Jan 03 2012

Extending My Apple TV

OK, I jumped through a couple of hoops today.

First of all, frustrated with the limitations imposed on my Apple TV, I performed a jailbreak on it using Seas0nPass by FireCore. It is an untethered Jailbreak for AppleTV 4.4.4 which actually uses iTunes to create a restore file.

There is a good how to doc here on the previous version (which is tethered) but I had no issues stepping through it.

The weirdest part of the process for me was hooking the AppleTV up to my computer with a MicroUSB cable, but without any power. It worked perfectly, but you know, no power cord just seems so odd!

The upshot of this being an untethered upgrade is that you do not have to hook it back up to your computer if you reboot the AppleTV…which is a good thing as I have managed to crash it several times trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

There are a HOST of hacker communities out there developing for Jailbroken Apple iOS devices, but AppleTV has definitely gotten far less attention than its more popular iCousins.

First place I went after sneaking in the file inside of the birthday cake was NitoTV.

Getting it installed required some use of Terminal on the Mac, once I had re-hooked the AppleTV up post jailbreak. With both units on the same WiFi network I just copied the commands from the Wiki linked above and all was good.

OK, not so much. I could never get the SSH to work with the root@AppleTV.local address. I finally had to go into my router, find the IP address that it was assigned and then proceed from there. You can either use the SSH menu in Terminal, or literally type “ssh root@your.ip.address.here” in the terminal window…with, of course, your real IP address at the italics.

When you are logged onto the AppleTV, your Terminal window will look like this and you can enter the commands one line at a time at the prompt.

This was not hard, but if mucking around in Terminal is not your idea of fun…well, I can certainly respect that! Also, since your AppleTV will be open to someone else with a WiFi connection in your neighborhood, you will definitely want to change your password.

NitoTV lets you load new apps, gives you access to emulators for GameBoy and Sega games and lets your AppleTV play a much wider range of file formats. It even gives you the option to install a WebKit based web browser called CouchSurfer.

If you are the type that wants to dive directly into the deep end, than the AwkwardTV Wiki has piles of good information to help you muck about in the byzantine innards of this flavor of iOS.

If you are short on patience or time and have a couple of bucks to spare, you may want to throw your hands up and go here.

Before you click the link and plunk your credit card down you need to understand that basically everything you are getting you can install on your own, with a bit of patience and savvy for completely free.

ATV Flash is like Red Hat’s Linux distribution. Sure you could get it all for free if you know where to look…but do you know where to look? If you are mocking me right now, than you are obviously not my target audience and I can’t quite figure out how you got this far into this article. Please post tacky comments below belittling me for my inferior grasp of Unix.

If you are a part of the other 98% of the world, FireCore may be your ticket!
It is an app for your PC or Mac that just plops most of the crap you want to add onto your AppleTV to make it available to you. Mind you, you will still have to do some menu jumping to get it installed once you launch your AppleTV but that bit is pretty simple.

My favorite part so far? BLUETOOTH SUPPORT! Yes, I can now pair a keyboard to this little square hockey puck of entertainment and not have to enter text like a mid-90’s console video game! That is a HUGE relief!

I have some further research to do on this process, but so far it is an improvement over what I had. The Web Browser is a bit meh, and of course there is no Flash support (so much for running the free version of Hulu on it) but it has greatly expanded what I can do with it.

Definitely worth the effort!

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