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Summary:

Apple TV owners can now add the open-source media control platform Boxee to their set-top boxes… if they are ambitious and more than a little tech savvy.

Apple TV owners can now add the open-source media control platform Boxee to their set-top boxes…if they’re ambitious and more than a little tech savvy, that is.

The new functionality doesn’t come courtesy of Apple, or even Boxee itself. The hackaround was developed by independent programmer Scott Davilla. In an interview, Davilla said that he was always a big fan of the Apple TV, but was frustrated that you couldn’t expand it and add more stuff to it. Then Davilla stumbled onto the XBMC (formerly XBox Media Center) project, upon which Boxee was based.

Boxee lets you control your movies, music, photos and more through your connected TV. On the Apple TV this means you could play content other than what you download directly from Apple. It will pull content from the hard drive on the Apple TV or from a local network.

But the instructions to do so aren’t for the faint of heart. They involve a bootable USB drive, patch sticks, and on top of that, you have to be a member of the Boxee alpha, which is still invite-only. Once installed, the Apple TV menu adds a Boxee option which when selected lets you browse through Boxee just as you would on your computer.

Boxee is touting this move as proof of its concept. By being open source, the community is helping to innovate the product. Davilla is not part of the Boxee team, but is just someone who wanted to expand his Apple TV. Of course, Apple could squash the Boxee functionality with a software upgrade, but as the Boxee community grows, so too will its innovation in different and strange directions. Now they just need to dumb it down to make it more accessible.

  1. But unlike iPhone or Mac updates, what could Apple offer in an update that would convince Apple TV owners to use it if they have installed Boxee? It’s hard to imagine.

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  2. Hi Chris,

    Think you have been looking the wrong google-code web site. You want http://atvusb-creator.googlecode.com which uses atv-bootloader technology. The USB flash creation and patching process is trivial using atvusb-creator and not at all like that mentioned on the atv-bootloader site which is the way these thing were done in the past.

    Scott

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  3. @Scott,

    Thanks for the tip, link updated.

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  4. [...] now watch and share content from Hulu and CBS.com, the company announced today. This, combined with hack released earlier this month, means that Hulu can be watched (albeit, in a complicated fashion) through an [...]

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  5. [...] Alpha versions support Linux, Mac OS X, and AppleTV – with a Windows version scheduled for release later this fall. Those who already have an alpha [...]

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  6. [...] enjoying a busy month, issuing a major announcement almost every week. First it was unveiled that Boxee is now running on the Apple TV platform. Then Hulu came to Boxee, and most recently, the Boxee team won the CES i-stage [...]

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  7. [...] is that much of the news about the service recently revolved around hacking it onto devices like the Apple TV, or unofficially integrating services like Hulu and [...]

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  8. [...] AirTunes streaming, third-party remotes and music volume control. But… The update also killed Boxee on the Apple TV. Boxee had recently hacked its open source media center onto the device, and as we predicted, Apple [...]

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  9. [...] browse and manage streaming titles, not the regular DVD-by-mail ones. And in Boxee’s ongoing it-works-now-it-doesn’t-now-it’s-back tug-of-war with Apple, the Netflix function does not [...]

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