Apple TV + iPhone = Ultimate geeky car audio system

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on August 30, 2008

If you ever wanted to prove your geek-cred to your friends what could be better than using your iPhone as a graphical remote for your car stereo.

Nels Johnson has done exactly that, and has posted the details for how to do it yourself at his site http://www.quickanddirty.tv/.

We’d point out that you should probably have someone else controlling the tunes, whilst you pay attention to the road!

Boxee to launch Linux version today

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on July 22, 2008

boxee ubuntu Boxee to launch Linux version today

Andrew Kippen of Boxee has just informed me that the long-awaited Ubuntu Linux version of Boxee will finally be made available for download today at boxee.tv

Like the OS X version of Boxee, the software will be released as an alpha version.  So please keep that in mind.

By the way, if you are working on porting Boxee to Apple TV, I would love to hear your progress on how the port is going.   Can’t wait to see it running on the Apple TV.

Today Remote app, tomorrow…

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on July 18, 2008

future apps Today Remote app, tomorrow...

By now, you are probably having fun using your iPhone/iPod Touch to control and view media on your the Apple TV with the help of the Remote app. And what a neat app it is.

Now that Apple has shown us what could be done with the iPhone SDK and the new Apple TV 2.1 firmware, I am very excited at the possibilities of other apps to follow (either from Apple or 3rd party).

I wrote a post at AppleTVSource a few days back about what this can lead to: two-way control, video support and maybe even screen sharing.

Apple may have published an extensive documentation on the iPhone SDK but none on how to control the Apple TV. But then again that’s why we hack.

Currently, I am trying to figure out how the iPhone-Apple TV communication works. I haven’t had much time to look into this though. I suspect that the Apple TV exposes a set of web services to be consumed by the client. These web services are used to control and retrieve the media data.

I sent an email to the iPhone SDK support team at Apple but I doubt if I will get anything back from them.

Has anybody looked into this? I would love to hear from you.

New Jaman Movies will not work on JamanTV player

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on July 15, 2008

Jamie Odell of Jaman just informed me that some new movies from the service will not work with the current JamanTV player on the Apple TV.  These movies fall under the license policy of 30 days to click play and 24 hours to watch after you click play.  (Sounds familiar?)

Anyway, they are working on a fix but don’t have a schedule for its release yet.  Of course, you will be first to know once the patch is released.

Apple TV 2.1 is now available

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on July 10, 2008

remote menu Apple TV 2.1 is now available

So you’ve been dying to use your iPhone/iPod Touch to control your Apple TV?  The previous hacks were just way too hard to follow?  Well, wait no more.  Go do yourself a favor and download the latest software.

Apple TV 2.1 not only supports the newly-launched MobileMe service (well, actually just the Gallery feature), you can now use your iPhone/iPod Touch to control your Apple TV.  To do this, you need the latest iTunes (version 7.7) and download the latest iPhone Remote app for use with your Apple TV.

Another exciting feature is photo thumbnails. No more boring slideshows.  Not just slideshows. You can now go directly to the photos you would like to view by browsing through thumbnails.  However, this feature does not work for “Shared Photos”.  What’s up with that, Apple?

Anyhow, go download yours now.

Boxee mini review

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on July 3, 2008

boxee Boxee mini review

Ever wish that Apple could have done much better with the Apple TV user interface? I had high hopes for it but I have to say I was a little disappointed. The thumbnail view of videos was nice but that floating text menu is quite unsightly; it is so un-Apple-like.

Apple should have consulted with the Boxee guys first. At least these guys know a thing or two about presenting different types of media in an organized and intuitive manner.

I had a chance to talk to Andrew Kippen and Avner Ronen at Boxee last Friday via a conference call. Like many of us, they expressed their discontent with current media software and hardware; none of them were built with user’s in mind. So the Boxee team set out to build what Avner described as “the best damn media center” software available. And they made it free and open-source.

The boxee guys explained that many people are starting to see the PC as an entertainment source – especially with mainstream TV now available from sites like Hulu, ABC.com, and CBS.com. In addition, people are sharing more and more experiences online today, from photos, to videos, to status updates. Why not what we’re watching? It is so much more fun to share. So, Boxee’s open source platform was designed from the ground up to include social networking features. With these features, you can keep track of what others are watching/listening to (both local content and content from the web – YouTube, BBC, etc.) and exchange recommendations about what you like.

The goal of Boxee is to run on as many platforms possible. Currently, the software is in alpha and only runs on the Mac platform. However, the Ubuntu Linux version is very close to being released, and, of course, a Windows version is in the works. The team has also reached out to the Apple TV hacker community looking for developers to port it to OUR preferred platform. They have gone through great lengths to make the source code very easy to implement and extend (it’s very developer-friendly).

I spent the last week playing around with Boxee. I am impressed. The user interface (which I totally dig) is well laid out, with a floating menu to the left and content displayed on the right. Like many media center software, Boxee is a full-screen application, putting every bit of screen real estate to good use. It is also Apple Remote-friendly. FrontRow is no match to this social media software.

The menu layout is predictable; it includes the usual ‘movies’, ‘music’, ‘photos’ and ‘settings’. However, it also includes a “What’s New” menu option in which you can observe what music others have listened to or what movies they have watched.

When selecting an item your peers played, Boxee does one of two things. If the media was a movie, it can play a trailer of that movie, otherwise if it’s music, it attempts to connect to the Last.fm service to stream the song, or music like it, to your computer. Since it’s open source all of these options are customizable so people could easily code it to work with something like a Pandora or and IMDB for movie information.

For movies, music and photos, you have the option of either browsing through your local files or connecting to online services. For example, under photos, you can browse through pictures on your local hard drives and networked volumes. However, you can also view photos from online services like Picassa and Flickr. For movies, the online sources include blip.tv, c|net TV and many others. You can imagine what they could do once they get a deal with someone like Hulu.

To me, what sets Boxee apart from all other media center software is the extra effort developers put in to make using it very enjoyable. One example of this can be seen in the thumbnail art used to display movies. Instead of taking a still from the movie clip to display as a thumbnail, it uses the filename (and perhaps its metadata) to fetch the appropriate movie “poster” to display. Another example is the ability to display the lyrics of the currently playing song. Very nice touch.

All that being said, I do have a few issues with Boxee. I’m not going to go into the fact this is an alpha and it crashes every now and then. It is to be expected with alpha software. My first issue is that you can only browse for media on the local computer using folder hierarchy. This is very XBMC-like. There is nothing wrong with this but it would be much better if there was integration with iTunes and iPhoto. Browsing through photos using the folder method is just not practical. Secondly, Boxee sometimes displays the wrong thumbnail poster for movies. For example, on my personal file I named “November 2002″, it displays a movie poster from the movie “November”. It would be great to be able to look through choices if a poster or CD label was wrong. Another issue I have is that, once Boxee is installed, I can no longer call up FrontRow up using my Apple Remote; I find this to be a tad bit annoying.

Overall, I like Boxee a lot. I think it has a great potential of being the new standard for social media center software. The development team’s effort can almost be compared to what Google is doing with their Android platform; to have it run on as many types of hardware as possible. With a little help from enthusiasts and outside developers, it won’t be long before Boxee’s vision is realized.

You can check out Boxee at http://boxee.tv. We would love to see this software running on the Apple TV soon. So start coding!

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