Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Apple TV Updated

Last week in the midst of the iPhone 3G release, apple snuck in an apple tv update as well.

Here's what's new:

  • Changed .Mac to MobileMe (MacRumors)
  • iPhone/iPod Touch remote capabilities (MacRumors)
  • improved photo browsing, with thumbnails (MacRumors forum)
  • Added "Wishlist" to Movie Rentals
  • Movies currently only available for purchase now displays date when available for rent.
  • Trailers view has changed to big thumbnails of movie posters (macrumors forum)
  • The 'Clear' button has been added to the onscreen keyboard (macrumors forum)
  • Streaming of photos from mobileme and from iPhoto on your mac (macrumors forum)
  • The music album list now has album artwork thumbnails (macrumors forum)
  • Internet Radio Playlists are working again (macrumors forum)
Read more about what has changed as well as find out which plugins have been updated to support ATV OS 2.1 at awkward tv:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Getting Started with ATV Hacking

For those of you just joining us, there is a fairly involved process for hacking an apple tv that requires you to make a special boot drive on a usb disk. After booting this specially crafted software system your atv will be able to install 3rd party plugins.

Read the full guide for making an Apple TV Patchstick here:

Once you have SSH enabled, you will want to install the NitoTV plugin which will take care of installing several other components you'll want to make your Apple TV do more.

I have a feeling Apple is readying a big update and most of this stuff with stop working for a while... so get it installed and lock down your device to prevent the updates from wiping out all of your plugins. When it is safe to upgrade to the latest os you will hear about it on awkwardtv.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Play YouTube Videos on ATV

The big news this week is the release of xdog's plugin "A Series of Tubes" which is able to play youtube videos from the Apple TV interface.
The plugin has now been released and can be easily installed using AlanQ's ATV Loader script.

If you want to watch Youtube movies on your Apple TV check out the Plugin over at AwkwardTV.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

XBOX Media Center (XBMC) headed for Apple TV

An extremely interesting post was put up on the XBMC forums earlier this week. Two developers from XBMC have set out to port XBMC to Linux!

Their plan is to port XBMC to Linux so it can be run on other hardware platforms. Some of the platforms mentioned include PS3, Apple TV, VIA Eden, and a Mac Mini.

This is really exciting news, and in only a short amount of time they've already got it working in Ubuntu Feisty.

You can check out a copy of the code from the XBMC SVN, but it's still very early in development and only provides support for skinners (no video/audio playback yet):
Also view the linux readme here

It's too early to tell what's going to happen with this, but it's very exciting to know that development is being done to bring this amazing media player software to other hardware platforms. The idea would be that you have a bootable USB drive which included a live-cd-like experience to booting XBMC on the device. The livecd you download would need to be specific to the platform you wanted to run it on because of the different drivers and bootloaders that would be needed to make it all work.

For more information or to add in your 2 cents about porting XBMC to Linux / Apple TV / PS3 and other platforms, check out this thread on the XBMC forums:

or come to IRC Freenode #xbmc

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Applications Menu on ATV

Someone has posted a new plugin for the Apple TV that adds an Applications menu to the interface. From this menu you can launch other apps such as Centerstage, VLC or Joost. This brings us one step closer to seeing some really cool apps evolve on the Apple TV OS. Can't wait to see what people come up with.

Awkward TV Plugins:

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Launching 3rd party apps from the ATV menu

Lots of people have talked about being able to do this, but so far I have not seen it done. We need to create a plugin that will launch another GUI app on top of the ATV menu. It should also take control of the IR remote to either pass remote commands on to the program or at least be able to listen to the menu keypress to exit the app and go back to the Apple GUI.

I have had limited success with getting apps to run fullscreen on top of the ATV interface. VLC, with all of it's fullscreen parameters does not show up above the ATV menu (it plays in the background, because I can hear sound).

There is one application that does run above the ATV menu when I launch it from SSH.

There is an app called Quartz Composer Player that will launch a .qtz file fullscreen in front of the ATV interface.

I took a peek at the source code. the only three lines that I think could be for putting the quartz composer player window above the atv finder are:
int32_t shieldLevel = CGShieldingWindowLevel();
[window setLevel:shieldLevel];
[window makeKeyAndOrderFront:nil];

You can get the full source and binary to this player from here:

I think there can be a way to use this app and load other apps in a quartz window, or maybe the lines above are all that's needed to add to our own wrapper program to launch programs the same way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Patchstick Working - Unlocks ATV in minutes

I was finally able to get my patchstick working last night using the instructions on the AwakwardTV Wiki. It's actually a lot easier than it looks, your basically making 2 partitions, loading them up with all of the correct files (that you patched yourself or found somewhere else), then changing the partition table at the end to a string that the Apple TV will boot with.

I created 2 bash scripts that convert the partition table back and fourth from ATV mode and standard mode so I can get in and edit the root partition files on my mac mini.

Now that I have the correct files needed to boot on an apple tv, I can take a fresh apple tv from the store, and in a few minutes have it loaded up with every codec, plugin and screensaver available. Just pop in the USB stick, press Menu and - to reboot the ATV, and it will reboot and run teh code on the memory stick. The scripts on the stick copy over all relevant files and make any necessary changes to your Apple TV OS, then you simply reboot and enjoy all of your new plugins/screensavers/codecs.

There is still much more work to be done for the code to be moved over to 100% open source code so that a disk like this can be distributed to the masses legally, but I would imagine that sometime in the near future there will be a nice and easy drag and drop utility that includes all of the files you need to make a usb patchstick.

This opens the floodgates to a lot of people. Once these USB keys exist and more apps such as ATV Loader are released, the Apple TV Scene is going to explode. Now any idiot with $299 and a usb stick can become an 'Apple TV Hacker'.

I am looking forward to all of the new content I will be able to watch on my bigscreen.
Have fun and keep it open source!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Apple TV Emulators

Pretty simple hack to accomplish. Just enabled shh. Then VNC, AFP and USB. Then installed Nestopia and Emulator Enhancer.

Easy only because many people have spent hundreds of hours figuring out these hacks. Check them out:

USB to N64 Controller is from


Apple TV IR Port Hacks

Hackers have begun to exploit the IR port of the Apple TV. Currently they have created a keyboard driver that emulates the IR sent from the remote so you can navigate through the ATV menu with a keyboard.

Other hackers have been coding applications and utilities to control the ATV GUI from the command line, which will eventually lead to other forms of external control, such as a built in web server.

Read more about Apple TV IR Emulation on hackint0sh forums

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Apple TV Dual Boot

This weekend the hackers are trying to fit multiple Operating Systems on the little Apple TV. Arodd on hackint0sh forums is reporting that he was able to format a drive with the Apple TV OS on one partition and regular OSX on another partition. By running a script, the Apple TV automatically reboots into the other OS.

He writes:

I essentially Installed a fresh copy of osx to a 3.5" hard-drive(hackint0sh). Then popped in the ATV drive to my pc along with the fresh install. Then used Disk Utility to recover the osx partition from the 3.5" to the Media partition making sure to not reformat/erase partition. It will coexist with the Media/Scratch folders on the 4th partition.

Setup the usual mach_kernel/boot.efi mod using semthex's kernel and the guide from

Then Bless with

bless --folder=/mnt/System/Library/CoreServices --file=/mnt/System/Library/CoreServices/boot.efi --setBoot --nextonly

This will tell it to use the boot.efi file from the media partition and boot osx, but only on the next reboot....

Read more here:

Apple TV RSS Reader

centic has released a frappliance for the Apple TV that will read RSS feeds.

This is great work so far. I'm curious to see the source code for pulling external data into the Apple TV Menu. I would really like to see support for video podcast rss feeds in a future version of this. Something that can just stream video urls right off the rss feed.

The plugin community needs a good solid frappliance example that can pull in external data, then lots of fun content plugins like this can be created. For someone who does not know xcode, it's a bit hard to get started with frappliance development at the moment.

Read more about RSS on the Apple TV

Monday, April 2, 2007

H.264 Hardware Encoder

Oh what fun we can have with something like this:
ElGato h.264 USB encoder stick.

I don't see any plugs on it, but I'm guessing it has a composite and svideo input? What about component? hdmi? I will post links with more information if I can find it.

Presumably, this would allow someone to stream a H.254 stream to the Apple TV without much CPU overhead (the encoding is done on the stick).

More on Gizmodo

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Modify the Apple TV Menu

EricIII has released ATVFiles which adds a 'Files' Menu to the Apple TV Default Interface. The files section can be mounted to an NFS or AFP share on your network to share movies and music across the network without using iTunes.

Although EricIII has not released source code, some other developers on the InsanelyMac Forums have released the source code of their plugin which does something similar, and also one that can exit the ATV Finder app. You will need to download XCode to compile the source code.

Check out this post on InsanelyMac Forums for More Info

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bounty $ for Installing Asterisk on ATV has put out a $500 bounty for the first team who can successfully run asterisk on the Apple TV.

Asterisk is a complete IP PBX in software; PBX being a telephone exchange system like you may find in your office. It runs on a wide variety of operating systems including Linux, Mac OS X, OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Sun Solaris and supports Voice over IP in many protocols, and can interoperate with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware.

Read all of the rules here:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hack the Apple TV without opening the case

It's still a work in progress, but Quangdiggity on the Awkward TV wiki is compiling instructions on how to install SSH on your Apple TV without opening the case. It involves modifying the recovery image then booting from USB and doing a restore. Sounds like they should have things sorted out very soon, and then many, many more people will consider hacking their Apple TV's to do all of the cool things the hackers have planned

See for instructions on hacking your Apple TV wth an external hard drive

Apple TV OS running on Macbooks

I'm not sure why anyone would really want to do this, but you can run the Apple TV OS on a macbook, and probably any other intel mac by the time you read this.

The software is not really the interesting part of the Apple TV, it's the $299 box with hdmi and component that can display high def content to screens. With LCD and Plasma displays decreasing in price so quickly, people are buying them up by the ton, and they will need sources to hook up to all of those inputs. The Apple TV Hardware, in a very short amount of time will become a great open source STB that pulls in content from all over the place. It small enough to tuck behind your LCD or plasma (who will be first to make an Apple TV mounting bracket?).

The fact that everyone on the internet is copying the Apple TV OS all over the place is just money in the bank for Apple. Each copy of Apple TV OS or iTunes running is another potential customer of Apple's DRM'ed content, bringing more $ in to them and giving them the user counts they need to get more studios to sign with them.


For more info on the files you need to install Apple TV OS on your Mac, head over to

Monday, March 26, 2007

Helpful Commands for Apple TV Hacking

Unload Watchdog (should put this in a startup script)
kextunload -v -b

Disable Ripstop: (part of watchdog)

mkdir /etc/mach_init.disabled
mv /etc/mach_init.d/ripstop.plist /etc/mach_init.disabled

Change your default Finder:
defaults write /Library/Preferences/ Finder /path/to/

Launch the Default Finder:

Enable VNC:

echo 71463E00FFDAAA95FF1C39567390ADCA > /Library/Preferences/

sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ -configure -clientopts -setvnclegacy -vnclegacy yes

sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ -activate -configure -access -on -users admin -privs -all -restart -agent -menu

Then VNC to the ip address of the box with password 'frontrow'

SCP files from another OSX machine Desktop to Apple TV:
sudo scp -r ~/Desktop/ frontrow@

Move files from /tmp to Media Partition:
mv /tmp/ /mnt/Media/

Launch VLC movie in fullscreen
(assumes you've copied the VLC app to the Media Partition)

/mnt/Media/ -f --video-on-top /mnt/Media/movie.avi

Files that might come in handy:
sshd for OSX (put in /usr/sbin/)
wget for OSX

HOWTO Convert DVDs to Apple TV format (h.264)

Mike spent 8 hours yesterday figuring out the correct settings needed to convert DVD's to be played on the Apple TV. He is using the software called MediaFork to do the conversions. He has posted detailed instructions and settings information for converting DVDs into h.264 videos compatible with Apple TV.

Apple TV - Optimal DVD conversion settings

Sunday, March 25, 2007

HOWTO Open the Apple TV to access the Hard Drive

So your ready to void your warranty and start hacking your Apple TV? Make Blog has detailed directions and photographs on the process of taking apart the Apple TV and removing the hard drive.

Read Make: Violating my Apple TV Warranty in 4 easy steps

Saturday, March 24, 2007

HOWTO Enable SSH and AFP on Apple TV

Jonathan Bare's Guide to installing SSH on the AppleTV:

Step 1

Firstly, copy the sshd binary from your Mac to the AppleTV drive:

cp /usr/sbin/sshd /Volumes/OSBoot/usr/sbin/.

Next, copy the ssh.plist file over, so launchd knows to start sshd on boot:

cp /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ssh.plist /Volumes/OSBoot/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ssh.plist

Alternatively, you could use the contents of the file from above to create an ssh.plist file.
Step 2

Unmount the OSBoot and Media volumes, reassemble your Apple TV, and power it on. You need to get the IP address of the Apple TV from the Settings menu, once you know that, open a Terminal window from your Mac (or any OS that has ssh installed) and type:


Press return. Type “yes” when it asks if you want to permanently store the key. Then enter “frontrow” as the password.

You’re in.
Full Tutorial with screenshots on

Apple TV Wiki online

Awkward, the man behind most of the Perian developments we've been posting about, has put up a wiki to begin collecting information about all of the additional things the Apple TV can do with some slight modifications.

Check out the AwkwardTV Wiki

Another good sorce of information about the Apple TV is this post on the Insanely Mac Forum

Apple TV OS is called 'Backrow' - Replace Boot Movie

Jonathan Bare, who was mentioned yesterday for replacing the Apple TV Hard drive with a larger one has continued searching through the filesystem of the Apple TV to discover a few more intresting tidbits. The software running on Apple TV has been dubbed by Apple as “Backrow”:

The interface that runs Apple TV is, in part at least, apparently called BackRow and can be found in the OSBoot/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/BackRow.framework. All of the imagery and the startup movie for the Apple TV can be found in the Resources directory at that location.

You can also find the background logo for the boot at OSBoot/System/Library/BootLogo.png
So if your brave enough to pry open your Apple TV and fiddle with the filesystem, you can look forward to implanting your own video file for the intro movie and boot logo. Yay!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Upgrade your Apple TV Hard drive to 120GB

Jonathan Bare has posted information about swapping the hard drive in the Apple TV for a bigger one. He gets the $100 bounty provided by for being the first to provide a guide on how to do it.

Apple TV Hard Drive Upgrade Tutorial

Desktop Apps / Finder running on ATV

The folks on the somethingawful message boards have figured out how to launch apps on the Apple TV. This means having an OSX box hooked up to your TV can cost just $300. People are already able to install things such as VNC and other apps. Things are starting to get really interesting with AppleTV!

Read more on the forums or come to #perian on IRC Freenode

Perian quicktime component for Apple TV

Some new info about the Apple TV Hacks:

The software used to allow the Apple TV to play other video formats is called Perian. This means that the Apple TV can potentially play all of these formats: MS-MPEG4 v1, MS-MPEG4 v2, MS-MPEG4 v3, DivX 3.11 alpha, DivX, XviD, 3ivX, MPEG4 video, H.264, Sorenson H.263, Flash Screen Video, Truemotion VP6, WMV, VBR MP3, AAC, and AC3 Audio

The goal of the Perian Project is to build a QuickTime component wrapper for the libraries produced for OS X. Perian enables QuickTime-based playback tools access to more file formats and codecs.
More info on Perian