VLC, the world’s best open-source media player (it plays like virtually every format), just reached a big milestone in its 17-year history.
The free app’s been updated to version 3.0 “Vetinari” and with it comes a hefty list of new features like the ability to natively play 360-degree videos and HDR content.
You can find the full list of detailed feature additions on the VideoLAN Organization’s website. We’ve plucked out the four most important new features.
1. Supports HDR videos
The future of all video content is HDR (High Dynamic Range). The video format makes videos pop more with higher contrast, wider range of color, and increased brightness. Simply put: HDR videos look superior to non-HDR content.
There are several competing HDR formats. VLC 3.0 supports HDR10. You still need a TV, computer, tablet, or phone that supports HDR to play HDR10 content. But if you’ve got both the hardware and software pieces, you’re good to go.
2. Plays 360-degree videos
Shooting 360-degree video has never been easier. It’s watching and sharing the immersive videos that’s a pain in the ass. Up until now, you either had to use proprietary software that’s specific to your 360 camera or upload the video to YouTube or Facebook and deal with the compression.
But not anymore. Now you can play your 360-degree videos in VLC 3.0 and pan around in full resolution. And, so can your friends and family, so long as they install it, too. And why shouldn’t they? The app’s free.
3. Stream to Chromecast
You got content. Lots of delicious, crispy, high-res content, and you want to view it all on your big high-res TV without needing to wire up via HDMI. How do you it?
Simple: Chromecast. In the works since 2016, VLC 3.0 finally lets you easily beam your content to another screen. Chromecast support is only available for Windows and Android devices (macOS isn’t supported yet).
4. Smoother 4K and 8K video playback
For power users and real AV nerds, VLC 3.0 also supports hardware acceleration for 4K and 8K resolution videos. What that means is, the media player can tap into the processing power of your device’s graphics chip to render videos smoothly without any stuttering or jitteriness.
Here’s an 8K, 48 frames per second, 360-degree video playing, smooth as butter, on a Samsung Galaxy S8:
And here’s a hardware-accelerated 8K, 60 frames per second, 360-degree video playing on a Lenovo laptop running Windows 10: