UPDATE: Like these Apple TV hacks? We’ve got 10 more we’d like to see using Siri.
It only took a few days for eagle-eyed hackers to spot the second gen Apple TV runs iOS, and then they did what they do best – went about exploiting its full potential. Find out how to get more from your Apple TV here, from new streaming abilities, a secret app store, and much, much more.
XBMC Media Center
Yes, that’s right. By hacking the iOS software, XBMC Media Center becomes available as an extra in the menu, and it’s the latest 11.0 ‘Eden’ code. You can even use other IR remotes, such as Logitech’s Harmony, though unfortunately the Xbox one won’t work. And it’ll save you valuable seconds loading up your Xbox to watch something.
With a menu that makes Apple TV’s look like a Casio calculator in comparison, Plex is your one stop shop media centre, letting you stream nearly any file type from your Mac to your TV, and in glorious HD as well. Based on the open source XBMC Media Center, it’ll also bring Hulu, BBC iPlayer, YouTube and 4OD to your Apple TV, covering all your viewing needs.
Once you’ve done this hack, you can install emulators for the SNES, NES, Megadrive, Master System and Gameboy Advance, ready to play any ROMs you download, right there on your TV, just like when you had the original consoles. Just go to Settings, Install Software, Install Emulators, and get ready to party like it’s 1989.
What was a hack has now left beta to become an official product. aTV Flash opens up the media possibilities of Apple TV, including letting you stream non-iTunes media, like MKV, AVI files, etc, without needing any software or transcoding. So you’ll be able to free those files from your Mac to your big screen TV wirelessly, which is good news if iTunes isn’t your only source for media files. The media player has been in development for months, and also brings watched, unwatched and partially watched markers, including resume support, so you’ll know exactly where you left a show. You can also listen to Last.fm and download extra apps. Best of all, it’s all above board and doesn’t damage your Apple TV.
This baby lets you control your Apple TV from your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad, courtesy of a feature called RemoteView. You’ll need to buy the RemoteHD app (£2.99 from the App Store), and to jailbreak your Apple TV, as with the vast majority of the tricks here, but then you’re ready to roll. It also lets you skip songs without having to enter Now Playing, which should shave some valuable seconds off your fiddling with menus.
If you want to shun Apple’s menus and find info on a movie straight from the invaluable Internet Movie Database, this is the hack for you. You’ll need to install software called Sapphire, then it’ll recognise any film based on the filename alone, and download cover art and info on it, for your perusal pleasure.
Another way of streaming non-iTunes approved video from your Mac to your Apple TV, this one courtesy of Erica Sadun. So you can free your AVIs, MKVs, FLVs, and the rest, ready to enjoy in the lounge.
Made by the same person as AirFlick, this lets you do the opposite: stream audio and video from Apple TV to your Mac. And it’s available via a simple download from the iTunes App Store, for just £2.99. A steal.
One hacker even managed to get Front Row from his Apple TV to his fourth gen iPod Touch, though it didn’t respond too well, judging from the video. But as he says on the YouTube page, “If you want to call it fake, why don’t YOU put Lowtide on your device and expect it to respond perfectly to touches in a non-standard coordinate plane (read: it changes the resolution) when it’s not even made to accept touch.” It’s a fair point.
Just a few days ago, hackers released the iOS4.3.1 exploit that’ll let you install Cydia, an underground app store with offerings you won’t find on the official iTunes one. So now you’ll effectively have an open source, Android-style app store for your Apple TV, opening up all kinds of possibilities.
Bit complicated, this. It requires you to jailbreak your Apple TV via the Seas0nPass tool, which isn’t something we can recommend if you want to keep your warrantee. Long story short: running the Lighttpd software on a jailbroken box can turn it into an Apple TV web sever with enough power to host a reasonable amount of web traffic. Stock a whole cabinet full of them for world-conquering results.
AirPlay mirror Safari from older iPhones and iPads
Currently, AirPlay mirroring in its truest sense is a feature restricted to the newer, dual-core devices in the iDevice roster. That said, if you’re the owner of an older iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad you can actually do a bit more than Apple would have you believe. Or more than merely show photos and through first party apps, at any rate. Install AirVideoEnabler (available through on a jailbroken device via the Cydia store), and you’ll be able to mirror video from VLC as well as Safari.
AirPlay mirroring gaming
You may be fully clued up on iOS 5′s AirPlay mirroring, but you may not realise what this actually enables you to do; it’s for far more than just flicking through photos. Most notably, gaming. running games through Apple TV from an iPhone 4S or iPad 2 turns the handheld half of the combo into a wireless gaming controller, for big screen gaming of a more epic variety. We suggest you give this a go with the upcoming launch of GTA III mobile (below) on your Apple TV.