Apple to supply free ‘software features and enhancements’

by editor @ 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 @ 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 @ on April 15, 2007

A week ago, in partnership with, 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 @ 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; 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 @ 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?

$1000 Bounty for External USB Drive Hack

by editor @ on April 8, 2007 and have teamed up to offer a $1000 bounty for the first team to get an Apple TV to use an external USB drive for storage.

The bounty will be won by the first team to submit a verified process and patch, within the rules:

  • Patch must allow a USB hard drive, plugged into the Apple TV’s USB port to act as the default and primary storage for the Apple TV.
  • The Apple TV must still boot from the internal drive and cannot use a complete replacement OS (the kernel may be patched, and additional kexts added).
  • Patch must allow the media to be accessed as it would be were the internal drive being used (i.e if you couldn’t see their was a USB drive attached you wouldn’t know).
  • Patch must be able to be applied without opening the case.
  • Patch must be able to be removed (and the Apple TV to original configuration) without opening the case.
  • No commercial files can be used asides from those found on the Apple TV or Mac OS X Intel. All others must be freely and legally distributable.
  • The process cannot have been previously published, or demonstrated / distributed publicly.
  • Judges decision is final.

As usual entries should be made to, with the subject “USB Bounty”. Questions in the comments, please.

To get started, take a look at the USB page over at the AwkwardTV Wiki, ask questions at the Hackint0sh forums or in IRC at #awkwardtv on, sponsors of the bounty, offers Cash Back shopping and Coupons for many of the best online stores, and is home to one of the leading shopping forums on the web. Big thanks to them!

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