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.