Who stole from whom? Plex's UI vs Emby's UI

android-tv
fire-tv

#1

Back when Plex updated the Fire TV UI to match that of the Android TV, I voiced discontent. (That happened to be in the Apple TV forum, because @elan was responding there and not in this one.)

@preacherche said:
The latest move to leverage the Android TV UI is AWFUL, and you have people rolling back several versions to get to something usable.

I made a significant number of other comments, but @elan at least addressed the above directly with:

@elan said:
I'm not sure how to respond here. The old Fire TV interface was the much-hated-upon web UI; we continually get asked why the Android TV UI isn't on the Fire TV devices; the ratings for the app are excellent and the majority of feedback we get about the change is positive.

"Fair enough.", I thought, "Guess I'll go check out this Emby thing, to which some others seem to be moving."

I installed and set up Emby, only to find that the UI looks almost identical, leading me to this question: Who stole from whom?

The UIs are different, in ways, but the basic approach is so identical that it's clear one took 'inspiration' from the other.

As an aside, during my 6 years of Plex use, this UI shift is the second time Plex has dropped a notch for me in terms of usability. When they moved to what is now the previous UI, they increased the "clicks" to get to what I wanted. This new UI increases it further. The responsiveness also took a hit - previous UI was relatively snappy, with this one I see lags. I'm learning to live with it, but I still don't like it, and I'm periodically continuing to evaluate other options. That continues to make me sad, because I used to love Plex and spent many hours espousing its wonders to all my friends, not to mention the dollar investment I've made in building an entertainment solution all specifically around Plex.

(@elan - If you're reading this, I watched you close that ATV thread today, in which members were repeatedly criticizing you and your team. As a director of a software development department, I get how such criticism sucks and eventually it just isn't constructive. I've learned communication is key... and it's one of the hardest damn things to do right, because nobody does it right. So, I appreciate you chiming in on these forums - not exactly a typical CTO thing to do - but, maybe let someone else play the part of moderator, because brother you already have an optics problem as it is.)


#2

(@preacherche ~ I’m all for constructive discussion—like this one—but stark toxicity, I have less of a stomach for. There’s 4chan for that :wink:)

The new Fire TV app is basically just the Android TV app we’ve had for years, made to run on Amazon’s devices. We resisted for a while, because that wasn’t a supported configuration, there were some libraries which were only on the Android TV devices, etc.

So as to which came first, I suspect that our Android TV app came first, but I don’t know, and the thing about Android TV is that (like Apple TV), the apps end up looking pretty similar because they use standard components. So I’m guessing maybe not exactly a “Redmond, start your photocopiers”, but who knows.


#3

I believe both Plex and Emby are following the below guidelines

https://designguidelines.withgoogle.com/android-tv/design-principles/designing-for-tv.html#designing-for-tv-tv-appropriate-apps

Which makes them look familiar.


#4

@"- NaDs" said:
I believe both Plex and Emby are following the below guidelines

https://designguidelines.withgoogle.com/android-tv/design-principles/designing-for-tv.html#designing-for-tv-tv-appropriate-apps

Which makes them look familiar.

It is amazing how following a standard has led both Plex and Emby to the same level of mediocrity. The interface is supposedly designed for a lay back TV experience but it looks like a phone app designed for touch screens that has been expanded to fit the larger screens.

In this case I believe both Plex and Emby could do better, MUCH better, by thinking outside the box and actually being creative in their development of a user interface.


#5

@elan said:
the apps end up looking pretty similar because they use standard components

Thanks @elan. THAT explains a lot. It also explains why when I finally got a glimpse of Plex on the ATV, I had an even more visceral reaction than with the new AFTV UI. (I usually love Apple products, but holy cow does the Apple TV UI stink.)

@Elijah_Baley said:
In this case I believe both Plex and Emby could do better, MUCH better, by thinking outside the box and actually being creative in their development of a user interface.

Agree wholeheartedly. If it’s possible to step outside the bounds of the Android TV (and Apple TV) common framework, Plex should seriously consider doing so. Plex was a disruptor many years ago, quickly becoming the standard, and now others like Emby and Infuse are the disruptors.


#6

Let me start by saying that I’m a new user of the Fire Stick and I’m disappointed at the performenace issues (stuttering, 2.0 audio). Not sure why they exist but I’m not going to highjack this thread to discuss them.

Back to the UI discussion …

We can beat this topic to death because at the end is all about personal preference and one’s ability or willingness to deal with change.

I’m a long time Plex user, really long time, and I’ve seen all kinds of UI changes, and the only time I think Plex missed the mark was exactly when they tried to create the same UI in every player/platform. I’m glad to see they are progressing the Fire Stick TV app to use design standards for this platform.


#7

@Digao said:
We can beat this topic to death because at the end is all about personal preference and one’s ability or willingness to deal with change.

I agree with you!


#8

@elan

If only android showed nice pretty pictures of cast members to reflect how awesome the Android app really is!!

Hint hint, nudge nudge :smiley: :smiley:


#9

Every decently designed app will ignore Google’s guidelines. Teams at Google ignore those guidelines.

The changes to PMP have been positive and IMO, that UI is the direction Plex should be going on every single host platform. Plex isn’t a “feature” - it doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) constantly have to change to keep up with the whim of the host platform’s often mis-guided design ethos. Google are radically changing AndroidTV for Oreo - will Plex shift UI every year on someone else’s terms?

Customers need familiarity and that means being able to change host platforms without having to learn a new UI for their media platforms. If we were talking windowed desktop apps, then by all means, adhere to OS design guidelines, but Plex is a full screen media experience. It’s a platform unto itself and when you’re using this kind of system, it needs to be immersive. There’s no point in being able to identify the host hardware by looking at the screen. It’s painful to switch between hardware platforms to use Plex when so many elements from one are missing on the other. Changing properties at the server level affect one platform one way and might not affect another one at all. It gets, to put it as mildly as possible, confusing. It’s a brand killer.

Customers don’t care that Plex looks like YouTube that looks like Netflix - that’s already not the case as those two have completely departed from the old Google guidelines. Bringing up Netflix is a great example. They’ve got essentially the same UI on every platform now. They’ve seen the benefit in this strategy.

Wake up Plex devs. You’ve done some really great work on PMP. Time to deploy everywhere.


#10

@TVPlexHD said:
Wake up Plex devs. You’ve done some really great work on PMP. Time to deploy everywhere.

Just wait until that disaster rolls out to the masses… this forum will evolve into a roiling cauldron of user hate immediately upon arrival.

Plex, apparently, is incapable of developing a decent App for their great media server.
Odd… to say the least.

The closest they’ve EVER gotten is the current App For Roku, due in no small part to the Roku Lead Developer’s attention to the little details that matter - but even then it’s taken users 2 years to get used to it. Now the fear is Plex is moving away from that design?

Yea… the line for the pitchforks and torches forms over near the outfitting hut. See your team leader for Angry Villager Castle Storming Tactics Training…

Not that it will matter one bit, because clearly Plex thinks they’ve developed a wonderful thing - no matter what it is - and if you don’t agree… too bad. The guys that say: The New App is GREAT are Die-Hard Plex Fans - Plex can do no wrong. The vast majority of users don’t fall into that category - and they’ll be here soon after the bomb is dropped to make that very clear.


#11

Have any links to the Roku Plex app you’re talking about? The ones I immediately see in Google Image search frankly look like crap. Sorry, don’t have time/desire not to be blunt about it. :slight_smile:

As a designer, as far as I’m concerned, the current desktop PMP has the best UI Plex has made to date, though it still needs some work - running in full screen mode of course. NOT the management WEB UI that someone else asked to be ported to all devices. TO me it looks the cleanest, most attractive, includes just the content I want, and with one exception, sensible navigation. That exception is the paradigm of revealing libraries by pushing UP on the main categories at the top - everything else is top-down. But I don’t mind it and find it works well once used to it. I’ll say that I use the AndroidTV Plex most of the time because the desktop version is only used for testing while on my Mac.

One of the benefits of the new UI is the grouping of libraries of the same type together under a single heading. Missing still is the ability to browse these libraries in a merged state. For instance, under “Movies” one has Kids movies in addition to the main movie library, but there’s no way to browse them both together as one.


#12

The Roku App I’m using is the the same as the full screen view of the current PMP app I’m running. I do not (can’t) run the preview versions of either.

The abomination that will soon be squeezed from the Plex Orifice to spray-coat the general public will start the countdown to Armageddon here on these forums. Of that I am quite certain - unless they don’t look anything like the current and hated new Xbox App or the PMP disaster I saw briefly during an accidental ‘upgrade’ I got… quickly backtracked… a while ago.

I am not a designer. I am merely a user, like all these other users that are not included in the design process and are subject to the whims and fancies of ‘The Designers’. Since you are a Designer maybe you love what Plex Designers have Designed. Unfortunately users are expecting something way different - but will never get it.

Plex designs for Plex. Users can take it or leave it.
Plex doesn’t seem to care much either way.
We’ll get what they vomit forth, get the standard ‘Take Some Time To Get Used To It’ line of BS and there we will be until the next time Plex thinks up something wonderful to spring on the general public in a surprise attack.

Still waiting for those promised ‘Improvements’ for that AFTV POS they dropped in a midnight raid.
Well, actually stopped waiting some time ago when it became apparent those ‘Improvements’ weren’t coming.


#13

@JuiceWSA said:

The abomination that will soon be squeezed from the Plex Orifice to spray-coat the general public will start the countdown to Armageddon here on these forums. Of that I am quite certain - unless they don’t look anything like the current and hated new Xbox App or the PMP disaster I saw briefly during an accidental ‘upgrade’ I got… quickly backtracked… a while ago.

This situation currently is so bad, that one more disaster will hardly matter …


#14

Yea… true enough.

Having been subjected to the Plex/AFTV Horror Show for many years - I’ve basically given up hope of ever being able to use my AFTV for Plex. It’s just one disaster after another and Plex is absolutely incapable of designing a decent app that works for the unit. This latest Earthquake Movie is just a port of Android - and by all accounts that’s one, if not THE most hated app in their lineup.


#15

I finally fully switched to Emby yesterday.

Because of my anger about the terrible privacy policy I installed Emby. I was testing it for quite a while … mostly because I’ve little spare time. So I spend my time rather watching my movies than changing my setup. But then over my Xmas-vacation I finally did the move … I spent 2 wonderful, trouble-free weeks with about 80% Emby and 20% Plex.

Yesterday now I got so fed up over a bullshit discussion in another thread here in the Forum, that I installed Emby Theater for Linux and also looked into the other issue I’m having with metadata scraping for my adult library.

So … byebye Plex. So long and thanks for all the fish.


#16

@"- NaDs" said:
I believe both Plex and Emby are following the below guidelines

https://designguidelines.withgoogle.com/android-tv/design-principles/designing-for-tv.html#designing-for-tv-tv-appropriate-apps

Which makes them look familiar.

Thanks to god that useful apps like Netflix won‘t follow these guidelines :slight_smile: