Remember that Add Site hack described by the iOS hacker David Schuetz, last fall? It was a quick trick in 5.x that enabled an Add site button on your home-screen which could be pointed to a media server and the content viewed in an Apple TV styled menu. As it turned out, the hack was revealed a bit a too late, as Apple had already patched it then in the 6.0 update. You can read more about the hack here. After a long research, Schuetz has finally found a way to make ‘Add Site’ work under Apple TV 6.x (details below), what made him wonder: Is this a prelude to wider availability of Apple TV app development?
[...] If Apple were to open up Apple TV to general development (and they’ve certainly been fielding a lot of new applications lately), then they certainly couldn’t have done that without some kind of control in place.
That’s what I’m kind of hoping: That we’ll see, in the near future, an official way for “everyday” Apple developers to build Apple TV apps, and to distribute them via a new “Channel Store.” Maybe this will even be unveiled with the next major Apple TV update (currently rumored for April).
If Apple wanted, they could’ve completely closed down this bridge, but apparently they didn’t. Instead they made a security booth in the route which opens only to Apple’s approval. Also it is worth noting that this hack was patched even before getting exposed by the hacker. So Apple didn’t patch it to prevent its misuse but was an event already in its roadmap.
As Schuetz suggests, this might be a clue to what we can expect from Apple TV in the future. Any developer could register with Apple, upload a set of videos and start his own channel. In fact, he says that he wouldn’t be surprised to see this feature in the next Apple TV itself. With circulating rumors of a completely revamped iOS-based Apple TV 4 with a new interface, games and its own App Store, we couldn’t help but agree with him.
How to get Add Site hack working under Apple TV 6.x
After Apple patched the hack in the 6.0 software update, everyone was busy trying to find a way around this patch and to get back the Add Site button. It was found that if you add the profile in 5.3 and then update to 6.0, the profile setting would indeed be preserved. However Apple seems to check for additional icons on home-screen and hide them automatically, thereby making the provision unusable.
Schuetz is back to the rescue. He has done a deep exploration into the patch and here is the conclusion:
So the only way to make ‘Add Site’ work under Apple TV 6.x (ignoring any unfortunately-still-speculative jailbreaks) is to:
- Retrieve the target Apple TV’s unique device identifier (udid)
- Using your app’s Merchant ID, create the string “”
- Get Apple to sign that string with the appropriate private key
- Include that signature in a configuration profile that enables the Add Site application
- Get Apple to sign the profile
- Install the profile on the Apple TV from step 1
If you’re a developer or a coding nerd, you can see the details here.