Those building a home media centre from a desktop PC or laptop traditionally turned to XBMC as the interface of choice. There were many reasons for this - it was free, well supported, and easy to setup.
Back in August 2014 the name XBMC was dropped in favour of Kodi, and since then it’s gone from strength to strength, with the development community releasing a number of add-ons that extend the power of the system. It's even now available for the likes of iOS, Amazon Fire Stick and Android.
In this feature we’ve gathered together several of the best available, so you can get the most from your media.
Most of the add-ons listed below are available directly from the official Kodi Add-on Repository, where you’ll also find guides on how to install them. For the few that aren’t there, a quick Google of the name will locate the repository of the latest version of the app.
Best Movies and TV add-ons
Content is king when it comes to a media centre, and there are several add-ons available that let you find TV shows or movies on the web and bring it to your Kodi-powered screen.
With Genesis no longer up-and-running, it has become hard for Kodi users to find their favourite TV shows and movies. If, despite copyright laws, you still want to risk streaming on Kodi, community-created Exodus Redux offers similar functionality to the aforementioned addon.
Salts, or Stream All The Sources, is an add-on that is a great alternative to one of the previous fan-favourites, Exodus. The add-on uses content drawn from different website in order to keep-up with readily available HD content. The media portion of the add-on will need a Trakt.tv account, where it's free to create.
This video add-on is regarded as one of the most comprehensive list of video content available. Through a team of developers, Phoenix maintains a large and constantly updated list of content.
The app also has dedicated sections created by the developers to appeal to certain audiences, such as female-orientated shows will appear under the 'Her Place' section. This is a great way to discover new content.
If the grey nature of pirated apps like Exodus bothers you, then you might prefer to look at PlayOn. This smartly designed app acts as a portal to a variety of paid-for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and many others.
The real advantage that it offers is the ability to record all of the shows onto your HD in .mp4 format, and stream them to other devices in your home or take them with you if you’re travelling somewhere without an internet connection. At the moment the focus is on US content, but there’s still decent offerings for UK viewers.
The other obvious big app that should be on everybody’s list is YouTube. There are a few on offer at the Kodi Add-On repository with Bromix’s simply named YouTube offering being the one we would recommend.
Navi-X is also an interesting one to investigate. This app acts as a gateway to user generated playlists of content from around the web. As with Exodus this can lead you into murky waters, but there is also the option to create your own Playlists to redress the balance.
The video game industry is constantly growing and with eSports taking off in recent years, people are streaming a lot of content. If you enjoy watching game streams, among other streams available - then Twitch should be your go-to app.
If you're in the UK or have a proxy setup, then the iPlayer app is a great way of watching shows that aired on the BBC. This can be anything from Eastenders to Match of the Day.
It's a must if you like BBC shows - despite it not being Kodi exclusive, it's still a worthy app to have installed on your device.
Is it illegal to stream live football matches?
Some sites may also suggest using IPTV add-ons to allow users to watch football matches for free. While this isn't technically illegal for those watching the stream, the Premier League has secured a court order that enables it to tackle illegal video streams of football matches via Kodi set-top boxes.
Until mid-2017, it could only take down individual video streams which were relatively easy to re-establish under another URL, while a Premier League spokesman says it can now target pirates in a "precise manner" and that "for the first time, this will enable the Premier League to disrupt and prevent the illegal streamer of our matches via IPTV, so-called Kodi boxes".
So, if you're looking to download Kodi to watch illegal streams of your favourite football matches, don't bother as it's becoming much more difficult. If you're still worried about using Kodi, take a look at our is Kodi legal? explainer.
Best media management add-ons
Kodi isn't just for streaming media from the internet - you can also use it to watch locally stored media too.
Plex (official Kodi add-on)
You don’t always want to stream content from the web, especially if you already have a library of media on your existing devices.
In this case, Plex is an excellent app that allows you to access your personal videos, movies, TV shows, photos, and music all from one place. It has DNLA support built-in and can send your content to other devices or even stream it across the web when you’re not at home. Previously you had to search for PLEXBMC to find this essential app, but now it's officially available as a Kodi add-on.
"We’ve been working closely with some of the best Kodi add-on developers in the world to create an awesome, fully-immersive Plex experience within Kodi. Seriously: once you’re up and running, you’ll never know it’s not Plex! You get the same Plex server discovery, user switching, gorgeous library browsing, and media playback experience you know and love, plus a few (okay, a few dozen) more settings to tweak to your heart’s content," writes Plex on its blog.
Dbmc (Dropbox) & Onedrive
Dbmc is another useful app that brings Dropbox integration to your TV screen, turning it into a huge photo viewer. You can also find a similar client for Microsoft’s Onedrive service on the Kodi repository.
Best music add-ons
Of course, no media streaming software is complete without a selection of music streaming apps.
The website and app comes to no surprise for those wanting to listen to the latest and greatest music from across the world. Better still, SoundCloud has an extremely vast array of high-quality music and podcasts.
This app is well known on smartphones and desktops, as it houses an amazing amount of radio streams from across the world. TuneIn Radio is a great addition to those wanting to hear their favourite radio DJs who might be located in a different continent.
Listening to music is always a plus on a TV/HTPC and MP3 Streams does exactly what it says in the title - allows you to stream MP3 songs from across the world, straight to your Kodi. Due to its fantastic organisation and list of content, MP3 Streams is used by many to listen to their favourite tracks.
Best miscellaneous add-ons
If you want to get experimental with your Kodi add-ons, here are a few we'd recommend.
As the name suggests, the app is designed so that you can install other apps for your Kodi. This allows you to easily install add-ons and repositories without having to worry about finding them.
If you’ve ever been curious about how much content you consume, and what it actually is, then Trakt is a simple, little plug-in that tracks your viewing habits. There’s a calendar feature to notify you of upcoming programs it thinks you’ll like, and Trakt also includes a social element where you can share your watchlists with friends.
BSPlayer & Subscene
Media should be enjoyed by everyone, but with streaming services often omitting subtitles this isn’t always the case. BSPlayer & Subscene are a couple of add-ons available that allow users to download subtitle packs and apply them to movies and TV.
Picture Slideshow Screensaver
The biggest screen in your house is a fine place to display your photographs, so installing this screensaver add-on will make that happen. You can choose from either Music or Movie fanart, or select a custom folder with your own snaps inside.
ROM Collection Browser
The add-on allows you to play retro video games, such as Pac-Man and Super Mario World! This is a great way to re-live some golden-oldies and play them through your Kodi device.