Plex is taking on Amazon, Apple and Google in the curation field with its three new features that let you find and discover movies and series on services like Amazon, Apple TV+, HBO and Netflix.
Type The Dark Knight and Plex will tell you on which streaming services you can watch the movie. The concept is known as universal search and you may be familiar with it if you are already using TV platforms like Amazon FireTV, Apple tvOS and Google TV.
- "So, imagine that you’re in your Plex app on your Apple TV and search for The Adam Project. You see that it’s available on Netflix, to which you do subscribe. You already have Netflix installed on that Apple TV. When you choose that Netflix availability source, you’ll be taken directly to the The Adam Project page in the Netflix app, ready for you to play," the company explained.
The universal search feature. Photo: Plex
Watchlist and Discover
In addition, there is a new Plex Discover (beta) section that suggests new and trending content, and you can add existing and upcoming titles to a Plex Watchlist.
The company says that the new features are supported widely in the Plex app across platforms such as Amazon FireTV, Apple TV (tvOS), Android TV, Roku, Smart TV, PlayStation, and Xbox. A full list is included in the table at the bottom.
Streaming services that integrate with Plex's new features include Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, and many others.
The Discover section. Video: Plex
It is part of a plan to make Plex the go-to place for content discovery, which can often be a mess. The new features integrate with your local movie library in Plex.
- "Ahhh the app dance. You know the one—where you sit down with the best intentions of watching a movie but after 30 minutes of pin-balling from one streaming app to the next you finally surrender the remote and fall asleep to Seinfeld…again," said Plex. "It’s what we’ve affectionately named the streaming struggle."
The Watchlist feature. Photo: Plex
However, there are limitations. In FlatpanelsHD's testing some streaming services – primarily local services – are included on Plex' website but excluded in the TV apps. It appears to relate to deep linking capabilities.
Deep linking does not work on LG and Samsung Smart TVs either, meaning that after you have found something you want to watch and click on, for example, the Netflix button you are taken to the homescreen of the Netflix app, and must type the movie title again.
The Plex watchlist does not synchronise with other streaming services so you must manually mark something as 'watched'. It does not tell you where to find the best picture or audio quality either.
Still, it is a promising feature set that in some ways mirrors tech giant Amazon, Apple and Google's approaches. And Plex is multi-platform. It is unclear if Plex has partnered with another company for metadata. JustWatch offers similar functionality on the web and in apps.
To get started you simply need to download the latest version of the Plex app. You may need to close the app and open it again for the new universal search, watchlist and Discover features to appear.
New Plex features – app support
- Amazon Fire TV (v9.0.1 or newer)
- Apple TV (v8.1 or newer)
- Android mobile (v9.0.1 or newer)
- Android TV (v9.0.1 or newer)
- iOS (v8.1 or newer)
- macOS (desktop) (v1.43.0 or newer)
- PlayStation (v5.34.1 or newer)
- Plex Web App (v4.78.1 or newer)
- Plex HTPC (v1.14.0 or newer)
- Roku (v7.0.3 or newer)
- Smart TV supported models (v5.34.1 or newer)
- Windows (desktop) (v1.43.0 or newer)
- Xbox (v5.34.1 or newer)
- Plex Media Server Libraries must use the Plex Movie or Plex TV Series agents