Hacker community takes over as Boxee phases out Box support

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Boxee is phasing out support for third-party apps on its legacy Boxee Box device, the company recently announced on its developer blog. This step is part of a bigger shift towards the new Boxee TV, which comes with a much smaller number of apps and instead emphasizes live TV and Boxee’s new cloud DVR service. But some Boxee Box enthusiasts seem ready to be filling the void, and have begun to hack the device to add improvements.

Boxee said last week that it will only accept new apps for the Boxee Box until mid-December. After that, only bug fixes for existing apps will be accepted. “We don’t have the resources to do quality assurance on major app updates,” explained Boxee lead app developer Shawn Rieger.

However, that doesn’t mean that developers won’t have access to the Boxee Box anymore. The device has always supported so-called third-party repositories, which are essentially app stores hosted and maintained by outside developers. Some of the existing repositories only feature a single app, while others offer access to hundreds of apps. “Some of our most popular apps are hosted in repositories,” wrote Rieger.

Some enthusiasts are now taking that spirit of third-party development even further. A new project dubbed Boxee+ aims to add missing features to the Boxee Box. Hackers recently discovered that they can get the device to run custom code loaded onto an external USB drive. One of the first releases of Boxee+ adds a music tab to the home screen as well as custom art to the device’s movie section. Of course, using this exploit will most definitely void one’s warranty, and could possibly even damage the device, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

Boxee has said that it will continue to support the Box for end users, but that there won’t be any more major software updates to it, safe for an update to Adobe’s Flash player. It is instead focusing all of its resources on Boxee TV, a device that is being sold exclusively at Walmart.

Check out Boxee TV unboxing video below:


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