That keyboard has to go!

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on August 16, 2007

So far there hasn’t been a lot of need to use the “keyboard” on the Apple TV. Its overall interface is well laid out enough that there is hardly any need to do text input. However, you still need to occasionally use it.

full keyboard.thumbnail That keyboard has to go!

I used the default/full keyboard to input my network settings and that was about it. Even that, selecting letters one by one using the Apple Remote is very tedious on that keyboard. The travel between each letter is so great that it can really tire your thumbs out “typing” simple words.

The layout of the full/default keyboard on the Apple TV leaves much to be desire. The characters are laid out in 4 main rows: upper-case alphabet, lower-case alphabet, numbers + symbols, and the rest of the symbols. You have 26 characters to work with per row; that’s a lot of clicking. If a web browser were to be ported to Apple TV, this keyboard is definitely not suitable for the task.

small keyboard1.thumbnail That keyboard has to go!

You may also have seen the other “keyboard” on the Apple TV, which is used to search for content on Youtube. This keyboard has only 5 characters per line and it is much more efficient. Much less travel/clicking between letters. Apple took out the symbol row and placed a switch button at the bottom to switch to symbols and back. However, this keyboard does not have upper-case letters. There is no need for it here for searching Youtube content. However, for normal typing, you do need upper-case letters too.

It would be nice if Apple can learn from the cell phone manufacturers in terms of the text-input interface. it normally has “buttons” to switch to different keyboard modes. The “modes” include “upper case”, “CAP”, numbers, and symbols. Having the ability to switch between different modes allows the number of characters to be less per row, reducing the number of clicks.

hp keyboard.thumbnail That keyboard has to go!

I was looking around for a good example for a keyboard interface. I found the keyboard on my HP multi-function printer to be quite close to what I’ve dreamt up. The characters are laid out in 3 main rows with “switch” buttons at the bottom. Though it is not perfect, it is still far superior than Apple TV’s full/default keyboard.

If Apple insists on using the 6-button Apple Remote on the Apple TV, they need to come up with a better text-input interface than the current one.

Testers needed for Pure-FTPD on Apple TV

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on August 16, 2007

Scott Lyons has ported Pure-FTPD to Apple TV.  For those who are not familiar with this, Pure-FTPD is a “free (BSD), secure, production-quality and standard-conformant FTP server.”  Its source code has been ported to several *nix platforms including Linux, OpenBSD, NetBSD and FreeBSD.  And now, Apple TV.

Scott would like volunteers to test out this port.  He has started a wiki on AwkwardTV here.  If you some spare time, please go help him out.

Hack suggestions

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on August 16, 2007

Many of you wrote to us suggesting some interesting hacks for the Apple TV. We would like to share them with you, our readers. Yes, some of them are pretty far out but who knows. Maybe we can get volunteers to work on these to make them happen.

Here is what we have so far:

  • Apple TV USB-to-iPhone Hack – allowing Apple TV to read and play content stored on the iPhone (submitted by Reggie)
  • Put Sling Player for Mac inside Apple TV – so you can watch your shows recorded on the Slingbox on your Apple TV (submitted by Ubermaxi)
  • A reliable mount app – something that will detect volumes on your LAN automatically (submitted by UberMaxi)
  • OS X full install to work with Xbox 360 HD DVD – not Apple TV software but OS X on Apple TV (submitted by Steve K.)
  • Playlist for Movies/TV Shows – currently there is no playlist feature for these types of media yet; only for music. There are workarounds but better if Apple TV directly supports playlist for movies/tv shows (submitted by michel)
  • Work with ATI TV Wonder 600 – this is a USB device that acts as a HD DVR for PC (submitted by Postscript)
  • Windows on Apple TV – Basically running Windows via BootCamp on a full OS X installation (submitted by Mitchell O.)

Let us know what you think.

Please open up the Apple TV: An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on August 11, 2007

appletv Please open up the Apple TV:  An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

Dear Mr. Jobs,

Thank you for releasing the long-waited Apple TV back in March of this year. We think it’s a wonderful device and a great addition to the home theater setup.

With the Apple TV’s easy-to-use interface and simplified remote, we can now watch our favorite movies and TV shows we’ve downloaded from the iTunes Store on our 52″ plasma screen. We can listen to our music collection via our souped-up home theater instead of having it come out from our PC speakers. We can share our vacation photos with our friends in the living room instead of having them crammed in front of the computer. And lastly, we can also enjoy those funny YouTube videos from our couch without going back to the computer.

As wonderful as it is, Apple TV is a closed system. Without hacking it, there is no way to add new features to this one-of-a-kind device. Just a simple feature like supporting new file format requires a hack that probably makes casual users cringe at the thought of trying it out.

Yes, there is a large community of “hackers” that helps with adding features to your closed-up Apple TV. It is not that we are hackers by the classic definition. We don’t try to get into people’s bank accounts, hack into the DOD computer systems, nor do we like to be known as “hackers”. We do it because we see the vast potential of this device. With no support from Apple, we do not have other ways; we are forced to be known as “hackers.”

Your current favorite iProduct, the iPhone, has a development kit and the number of applications for it is growing daily. Though limited, the development kit for the iPhone allows for applications to use its native services making easy to expand on the phone’s functionality.

There also exists a Widget development kit, which allows Dashboard Widgets to be created with ease. That kit alone enables the widget application base to grow to 3100+ widgets strong.

The developers who develop on these kits are still known as “developers.” We, on the other hand, are known as “hackers.” All this just because of our love for the Apple TV.

As for the Apple TV community, we get NOTHING. No development kit to add new functionality like the iPhone. No accessories like the ever-popular iPod, unless you call those Apple TV “skins” accessories.

Frankly, we are frustrated.

Here is our plea to you, Mr. Jobs. Please open up the Apple TV.

Just imagine what it can do. By having a development kit, we can easily add new features to the Apple TV without risking to void the warranty. Want to support a new file format? Boom, a plugin for that. A new arcade game? Boom, a game plugin for that. Want to surf the web? Boom, a Safari-like plugin for that too. Oh how wonderful it is to be surfing the web on a 52″ plasma TV.

And if there is hardware development kit, think of the hundreds of manufacturers who would be eager to develop new accessories for it. A DVD drive? Boom. An AV box? Boom. A hard drive for extra storage? Boom. You already have a “made for iPod” certification program. Why not have one for the Apple TV too?

Yes, there will be a lot of “BOOMS” in the Apple TV Land only if there is a development kit for it.

You mentioned that Apple TV is a “hobby” to you. So why not let it be our hobby to legitimately develop for it too.

Eagerly waiting for your reply.

Sincerely,

The AppleTVHacks.net team

Apple TV Resources

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on August 9, 2007

appletv resources hacks Apple TV Resources

Last100 has compiled an extensive collection of Apple TV resources. The article covers reviews, hacks, blogs, wikis, podcasts and other resources about Steve Jobs’ favorite “hobby” product.

Both our sites, AppleTVSource.com and AppleTVHacks.net are, of course, mentioned in the article. We couldn’t be more proud. With the iPhone getting all the attention nowadays, it is good to be recognized for our contributions.

If you don’t mind, go add some diggs to their article.

Meet my new Blogging Machine

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on August 8, 2007

new imac Meet my new Blogging Machine

Just got back from the Apple Store at South Coast Plaza to get my new iMac.  It’s a thing of beauty, my friends.  It’s thinner and sturdier.  I took some photos of it and posted on my other site, gadgetaholic.

The only thing I don’t like about it is the keyboard.  The feel is actually worst than the original IBM jr. chicklet keyboard (if you are even old enough to know what it is).

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