$1000 USB Bounty: we may have a winner…

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on June 20, 2007

We are excited!!! We are currently testing an entry sent in by someone from University of Chicago for the USB Bounty that we started a couple of months ago. Hopefully, this is it.

Unlike the hack to boot Apple TV from an external USB drive that is widely available. This USB bounty calls for an external USB drive to be hooked up and used as primary storage – but not to be booted from.

Once we have verified the entry, we will make the announcement (hopefully, in a couple of days) and make the patch available.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Apple to supply free ‘software features and enhancements’

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on April 26, 2007

AppleTVHacks recently pondered when we might see some Apple TV plugin goodness from Apple itself. Well, Apple have now confirmed that they plan to do exactly that.

Apple’s CFO, Peter Oppenheimer, said yesterday in a call with financial analysts, “… we plan to periodically provide new software features and enhancements, at no charge, to our Apple TV customers.”

There is no word on when we might see the first such additions, what exactly they’ll entail, and whether there will be any interface for selecting which new features you get. However, it is certainly an exciting first step and we are looking forward to seeing what these updates provide.

What next for Apple TV hacking?

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on April 25, 2007

Whilst some interesting working is being done with plugins for the Apple TV, the number of new hacks as declined. While this is somewhat inevitable as certain milestones are achieved, we think there is still a lot to be done. Here are some of the current and possible future projects for the Apple TV.

Apple TV in your Car

AppleTVHacks is not aware of any teams currently attempting this, but we are sure it is only a matter of time. DVD players are becoming commonplace in cars, certainly in family vehicles where the kids can be kept entertained whilst travelling.

The Apple TV represents the next step in evolution for exactly this scenario, you can load up content for the kids, which they can choose between (fight over!) themselves while you concern yourself with experimenting with your cruise control. When the kids aren’t listening, you can use it to stream music through the car stereo, and everyone is happy.

Add the fact that your wireless probably reaches the Garage where the car is parked and updating the content becomes a breeze.

Content Subscriptions

Until Apple deliver a functioning install of the iTunes Store that is integrated with the Apple TV operating system, anyone looking for automated downloading of their favourite shows ready for watching when they get home from work is stuck.

The Apple TV can already handle using other media players, and so all that is needed is another source of content. Enter torrents, which combned with RSS subscriptions could automatically obtain content as it appears. All that is needed is for these elements to be tied together, maybe wrapped up in a plugin and a microwave that does the popcorn on a timer.

Man in the Middle Upgrade

This could be the most important hack to date; it would allow hacking and upgrading the Apple TV without any need to open the case or download and apply patches using a USB drive. That is of course, if it is possible….

The Apple TV uses a built in Software Update mechanism which contacts Apple’s servers to check for updates. These updates will presumably allow Apple to fix and enhance the Apple TV’s built in features (no updates have been seen yet). You may be aware that these built in features are actually just plugins to the core application, which means the Software Update system would have the ability to access the plugins.

This hack would involve tweaking the settings on your wireless router to trick your Apple TV into asking for Software Updates from your computer. Your computer could then provide additional plugins of your choosing and you’d never have had to void your warranty in the process.

Linux on the Apple TV

Obviously, any hardcore geeks are keen to see Linux on any new electronic device, and the geeks over at AwkwardTV are working on exactly that.

Whilst we’ve already seen Mac OS X on Apple TV, there would be some benefits to having Linux running. Most notably that Linux is free and might unlock features of the Apple TV for those without an OS X install to apply.

Some initial success has been made, but there is a fair way to go yet before installing Linux on the Apple TV becomes useful to anyone who isn’t doing it just for the fun of it. One to keep an eye on.

$1000 bounty still unclaimed; future bounty suggestions?

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on April 15, 2007

A week ago, in partnership with FatWallet.com, we announced a $1000 bounty for hacking an Apple TV to use an external USB drive for storage.

We’ve been monitoring the activity through the community, and whilst many parts of the overall hack have been achieved, nobody has managed to tick all the boxes yet. The $1000 bounty is proving to be the most elusive so far, but we think the work everyone is doing will be well worth it.

Future Bounties

We’ve been receiving suggestions for what we could offer future bounties for. What would you like to see your Apple TV do now which still hasn’t been provided by a hack?

More homebrew plugins, but where are those from Apple?

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on April 11, 2007

Erica Sadun over O’Reily had written a plugin for the Apple TV that allows you to execute any Perl scripts you have uploaded. Given that Perl can run also call shell scripts and any Unix command, this will allow a whole host of cool scripts to be written.

It also opens the doors for programmers and scripters with no knowledge of Cocoa programming to develop their own additions to BackRow.

Plugins from ‘The Mothership’

We are seeing an increasing number of homebrew plugins; AppleTVHacks.net is wondering when we’ll see the first plugins from Apple. We imagine there are 3 viable mechanisms for Apple to distribute plugins:

1) The software update system provides a gateway for Apple to do exactly that; update their software. Seeing as BackRows default features are just plugins themselves, it follows Apple must be able to access the plugins to update them. Thus, they can almost certainly install new plugins in this manner.

2) The Apple TV syncs media from the iTunes it is connected with, this includes music, video and photos. Could it be that plugins could also sync in this manner? Download a cool plugin from the iTunes Store, and have it sync directly to your Apple TV? Whilst not so likely, it is the only current mechanism in place for getting user-selected data to the Apple TV.

3) Apple may update the Apple TV via software update, and provide a plugin for… downloading plugins. While to begin with Apple will certainly want to keep the Apple TV simple and easy to use, as the user base grows and people become more acclimatised to using the Apple TVs, this could be a viable route for Apple.

RSS Reader Plugin

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on April 8, 2007

rss plug 1tm RSS Reader PluginWe suggested an RSS reader plugin, and now it’s a reality. Over at Twenty08 they have released a plugin allowing you to read RSS feeds.

It is only a beta, and some users have reported crashes, but it is a big step forward for Apple TV Plugins, and we expect to see more and more cool plugins turning up.

What plugins will come next?

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