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Hulu has famously worked to block its videos from being viewed on television screens and mobile devices, but users and software developers are increasingly fighting back by hacking devices and releasing new software workarounds to reach that content. Hillcrest Labs, maker of the Loop Pointer in-air mouse and the Kylo web video browser, is the latest to do so.
Hillcrest just announced a new version of its Kylo web video browser — Kylo Beta 0.7 — that is available for download today with a bunch of updates designed to make viewing online video on the television easier. But the big news is that this latest version comes with a workaround that should enable advanced users to again access videos on Hulu. With a kind of hack, users will be able to edit the browser’s “user agent” setting for different domains, enabling them to trick Hulu into thinking that it is being accessed by a regular old desktop browser.
Hillcrest introduced the Kylo application in late March, with an eye toward providing an optimized experience for users wanting to connect computers to their TVs. (The company was also looking for another way to sell its Loop Pointer controllers.) Like Boxee before it, Kylo promised a way to access web video outside of traditional browsers — and like Boxee before it, Hulu acted quickly to shut off access to videos that it knew were being watched on the TV. In fact, within hours of the software being launched, Kylo was already being blocked by Hulu.
If the Kylo hack sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same method with which some users with Google (s GOOG) Nexus One handsets running Adobe (s ADBE) Flash were able to access Hulu on their mobile devices. Since we first reported on the hack, however, users have commented that it no longer works. All of which leads us to believe that any hack or workaround Kylo rolls out will be short-lived.
In a statement, Hillcrest Labs founder and CEO Simpkins defended Kylo users’ ability to access Hulu through the software, which he claims is just like any other browser (except for the fact that other browsers aren’t optimized for watching online video through the TV). In Kylo’s defense, he wrote:
“We know that one feature that is likely to attract attention is the capability for advanced users to configure the Kylo browser to access Hulu. It remains our position that Kylo is simply a Web browser based on open-source Mozilla code, like Firefox. We fully respect the rights of content owners and aggregators, and as such, we do not deep link, re-index, divert users past ads, or overlay different user interfaces on video players. However, we believe consumers should be able to use the Kylo browser to visit any site on the Web on the display screen of their choice. Our hope is that a respectful dialog with Hulu will encourage them to consider changing their policies.”
While the ability to access Hulu — for however long that lasts — is the most notable update to the Kylo software, it’s not the only one. In addition, the latest version of Kylo enables users to launch it from a plugin created for Windows Media Center, hide the control bar and keyboard when watching videos that don’t have a full-screen mode, zoom in to videos, print from the screen and support multiple screens on Mac computers.
Related content on GigaOM Pro: TV Apps: Evolution from Novelty to Mainstream (subscription required)