Plex opens up Chromecast to everyone, adds automatic camera upload

Media center app maker Plex followed through on a promise Thursday to remove restrictions around its Chromecast implementations, opening up the feature to all of its users including non-subscribers. Plex also added a camera upload feature that sets the stage for a bigger move into personal media backup and management. The company announced the new features on its blog.

Plex first added support for Chromecast in December, but initially limited access to media casting to paying members of its PlexPass premium subscription tier. On Thursday, the startup did away with that limitation, meaning that anyone can cast media straight from the Plex Android or iOS(s aapl) app as well as the Plex website to a TV equipped with Google’s (S GOOG) streaming stick. This comes after Plex extended its Chromecast support to audio and photos as well as media catalog browsing on the TV screen last month.

Speaking of photos: Plex also introduced automatic camera uploading to its iOS apps. The feature automatically uploads personal media recorded with an Apple iPhone or iPad to a user’s Plex media server, from which it can then be shared with other devices or users, or even synced with a variety of cloud storage providers. Camera upload functionality will for now only be available to paying PlexPass members, and only on iOS, but the Plex team told me that it wants to bring the feature to other platforms soon.

Here’s a promotional video demonstrating the camera upload feature:


Plex’s automatic photo uploading is similar to automatic backups provided by Google+ or Dropbox, with the difference that the media is first stored on a home PC or network-attached storage drive equipped with the company’s media server software.

For Plex, it’s an interesting move towards a bigger focus on personal media, something that the company’s Chief Product Officer Scott Olechowski first talked to me about at CES in January. Back then, Olechowski told me that the company was investing a lot of resources into improving the photo, music and home video experience on Plex, and that it could one day squarely compete with companies like LyveMinds, the personal media shifting startup spearheaded by former Apple executive Tim Bucher. With automatic photo backups, that vision is starting to come into focus.