I originally started work on Mizuu because I loved using my Boxee Box on my TV, and I was missing something similar for Android phones and tablets. Boxee is based on the open-source XBMC media center software, and – honestly – I’ve never really liked XBMC. I know, I know – many people live and swear to XBMC, but I’ve always felt that it’s unnecessarily complicated and hard to use.
For me Boxee was different than XBMC, because it’s much simpler to use and I think the user interface is a lot better. It’s much simpler and for me it was funny and exciting to use. That’s something I’ve wanted to achieve with Mizuu from day one.
A lot has happened since the first release of Mizuu, which was finished exactly a year ago today. I’ve learned a lot and have been fortunate enough to receive lots of lovely feedback, help and great suggestions from a lot of people around the world. For that I am very grateful. Mizuu wouldn’t have reached this point without you guys.
I think Mizuu – with the upcoming changes – is about to reach a point where it’s actually capable of being considered an alternative to the popular choices, and I’m really happy about this.
It was recently announced that the XBMC project will soon be hitting Android. I’ve had a few people ask me what I think about this because they’re afraid of what’s going to happy with Mizuu because of this. I’d like to address that in this post.
Like I said earlier in this post, I’ve never really been a fan of XBMC. It’s in many ways complicated to use and I think that it’s missing out on a lot of potential users because of this. That’s also why I think there’s room for alternatives like Boxee, despite being based on the same fundamental source code.
This is also the exact same reason why I don’t think of XBMC as a competitor to Mizuu, especially after seeing what XBMC looks like on Android devices. It’s the exact same thing. No mobile optimizations what so ever. On a smartphone, it’s practically impossible to use, and it’s really not a whole lot better on a tablet.
I know that there’ll be mobile optimized themes for XBMC on Android, but those are just themes. They’re not a core part of XBMC, and let’s face the facts: XBMC was never designed for Android. It was never designed to take advantage of Android’s many strengths and it’ll likely take years for something like that to happen. Mizuu was designed for mobile devices from the get-go, and I’m continuously improving support for these devices and try to improve the layouts for the best possible user experience.
There are tons of video players on Google Play that will have better performance than XBMC on Android, and it’s really no wonder – they’ve got more experience and have had more time to get things working. With XBMC you’ll never be able to take advantage of the performance of other video players, because XBMC is a video player in itself and will never allow third party players to “take over”. That means you’ll be stuck with software decoding for quite some time on many devices, and this is painfully slow when dealing with high resolution videos.
With Mizuu I decided to take an entirely different approach from day one. I don’t want to ignore third party video players – I want to use them. I want the user to be able to use their favorite video player with Mizuu and just have everything working.
I really could go on about this for a very long time to prove that Mizuu and XBMC really are two different pieces of software for different uses. They’ve had a huge focus on key and mouse interaction, whereas Mizuu has been designed for touch usage from the very beginning. That’s not something you change overnight in a project like XBMC. Just have a look at the image above – that’s what XBMC looks like on Android. That user interface hasn’t been optimized for mobile devices and it’s incredibly hard to use – even on a 4.65-inch device like the Galaxy Nexus.
So, to sum it all up: XBMC on Android won’t change anything for Mizuu. I’ll still keep working on it and I’m sure there will still be people who prefer Mizuu to XBMC – just like there’ll be people who prefer it the other way around. I don’t personally think that XBMC is ready for the mobile platform. It’s maybe ready for TV boxes, like OUYA, but not mobile devices.
PS. Google seems to like the idea of Mizuu on Google TV, so I might just have some news on that front soon 🙂