Native Skype plugin for Apple TV in the works

by editor @ on January 17, 2008


O, Brandon Holland, how we “heart” you.

Yep, the Canadian teen that brought us the wireless keyboard hack and the GPS plugin is at it again. This time he’s bringing us a Skype plugin for the Apple TV.

You may have seen our post on getting Skype for OS X to run on the Apple TV using Application Loader. However, the one that Brandon is working on is going to be a plugin native to the Apple TV.

Here is his email to us:

Hey Apple TV Hacks, I have started developing a Skype Plugin that will utilize the Skype API and make the user able to make calls and send text messages to anyone on there Skype contact list. As far as calls go, I think a standard usb headset or usb phone will work. Text messages will most likely be entered using the remote and the standard text entering method. No release yet, but I will release a beta as soon as it is able to make calls. Huzzah!

Huzzah to you too, Brandon. Thanks for all your contributions, Brandon. We look forward to seeing that plugin. Anymore plugins from you and we’ll have to start a Brandon Holland fan club.

Oh, come to think of it, you might want to wait until the software update first though. I have the feeling that the new update will not play well with your Skype plugin (or any other plugin for the matter).

Apple TV and the hacks

by editor @ on January 15, 2008

Several of you have asked if the existing hacks are going to be wiped out once the software update is in place.  My simple answer would be “most likely”.

It is my impression that the new software/firmware update will be based on Leopard as opposed to Tiger like on the current hardware.  The core files from the two operating systems are not compatible with each other.

Even if the update is not based on Leopard, it is still very likely (read definitely) that the update will wipe out any modification to the Apple TV first before installing a new set of files.  There is no reason for Apple not to do this because it wants the Apple TV to be in a known state first before it updates.  Without doing so, the update might not be successful.

That’s just my two cents.

“Apple TV Take 2″ announced at MacWorld

by editor @ on January 15, 2008

Steve Jobs has announced the new Apple TV at MacWorld in San Francisco. Here are the keypoints:

• No computer required. You can rent movies direct from the Apple TV through the new iTunes rentals.
• You can watch and listen to video and audio podcasts directly through the interface.
• You can few photos from Flickr and .Mac
• DVD and High-Def available.
• Music can also be purchased direct to the Apple TV.
• Same features for synching as available previously, including synching content purchased on the Apple TV.
• * It is a FREE SOFTWARE update for the existing Apple TV! *
• This free update will be available in 2 weeks

A few details about the iTunes rentals:

• All major studios on board!
• Titles will be available at 30 days after the DVD release
• Over 1000 titles.
• Library titles will be $2.99.
• New titles will be $3.99.
• HD titles will be $3.99.
• You can order then you have 30 days to start watching
• Once started you have 24 hours to complete viewing the movie.

Steve Jobs showed a demo on stage of ordering a movie on stage. It started playing pretty much right away, and looked very impressive.

A price drop for the Apple TV entry model was also announced, from $299 to $229.

This should hopefully give the Apple TV a big boost and bring in into the ‘mainstream’ of Apple’s products. However, a question we will have to wait to be answered is whether this software update will in anyway disable current hacks.

We’ll have more details as they become available…

Sound of silence (for just a few more days)

by editor @ on January 10, 2008

Hear that? That’s the sound of silence (or maybe just some crickets chirping) of the Apple TV hacking scene. For now, there are no new hacks to write about.


We are anticipating some big Apple TV-related news next week from Mr. Job’s keynote at Macworld Conference and Expo ’08. We know for sure that the movie rentals feature announcement is to be expected at the keynote. And maybe, just maybe, a new line of Apple TV’s (perhaps with Blu-ray drive?) will also be announced.

I’m sure one of the first hacks that people will be asking for after the announcement will be how to get the rented movies to play past its expiration date.  Personally, I don’t think this is going to happen easily knowing Apple’s track record for its DRM technology.   But we’ll just have to see.

For now, just enjoy the sound of silence. It just maybe the calm before the storm (the good kind) for Apple TV.

With great anticipation,


Sapphire plugin is now open source

by editor @ on December 26, 2007

Have some free time and looking for something to do?  How about taking a stab at enhancing the Sapphire plugin?  Now that the source code for the plugin is now readily available, you can do just that.

Hobbyists rejoice!  Yes, one of our favorite plugins, Sapphire Browser, is now released under an open source license.   For more information on the Sapphire Browser plugin, you can go to its wiki page at here.

We have to thank Graham Booker and Patrick Merrill for their effort they put in developing Sapphire and also for releasing it as open source.   We need more people like you.

Repurposing the Apple TV

by editor @ on December 11, 2007


Poor Apple TV.  Apple did very little to promote or support it.  The hackers who once were eager to find new ways to use it now flocked to develop for the iPhone.  Worse, the movie studios are pulling their content out from the iTunes Store left and right.

It’s a sure death for Apple TV if it continues the same path.  It can no longer by defined by its content but rather by its features.

Read on.

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