Edging closer to its next big release, XBMC is rolling out the first beta of XBMC codenamed “Gotham”. Among the numerous new features and improvements in this version are a couple of Android-specific changes that improve the software’s performance and abilities on the mobile platform.

Perhaps the biggest change is the inclusion of hardware video decoding on Android devices. XBMC is now available on devices running Android 4.0 and later, whether they be running on an ARM or x86 CPU. XBMC has also been optimized to run smoothly on less powerful hardware like Android device as well as the Raspberry Pi. The software also gained support for gesture controls, perfect for devices sporting touchscreens, again like Android devices.

XBMC has also enjoyed huge improvements across the board. The release brushes up on its usability. The new XBMC Settings pages now cater to both beginner and advanced users and makes basic settings easier for new users to reach. The audio engine has also been radically improved and, as a consequence, users will have to tweak their existing audio settings a bit after the upgrade. And for more fun, XBMC has gained the limited ability to play back stereoscopic 3D movies in SBS, TAB, anaglyph, and interlaced formats. It still can’t support Blu-ray 3D and there is no hardware acceleration for FullSBS/TAB formats.

The beta version is now available for users to download and test. However, being at a beta testing stage, bad things can and will happen, which should, of course, be reported to help with the testing process. Testers are also encourage to back up their data before performing the upgrade.