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Clever hack brings Plex to the Apple TV, no jailbreak required

Apple (s AAPL) hasn’t opened up its Apple TV device to all third-party developers yet, but instead just added apps from a few high-profile partners to the platform. But that didn’t stop two avid Plex fans, who were able to bring the media center software to Apple TV, thanks to a clever hack. And the best thing: There’s no jailbreaking involved, meaning that Plex users won’t void their warranty or brick their device.

The hack, dubbed PlexConnect, uses Apple’s own movie trailers app as a kind of trojan horse to bring Plex to the Apple TV. Users simply have to fiddle with their Apple TV’s network settings to route traffic through a computer running a python script that swaps Apple’s movie trailer data with data from a Plex media server.

The result is a working version of Plex that serves up all kinds of local content through the Apple TV. Check out this YouTube video for a quick demo:

Users are reporting that Plexconnect isn’t just working for local content, but also for some internet media channels, including a few live streams.

Plexconnect is admittedly a workaround, and Apple can presumably put an end to this through an Apple TV firmware update. But it once again goes to show that Plex is getting a lot of support from a dedicated community, which has allowed the startup to iterate at a rapid pace and expand to a wide range of platforms.

11 Responses to “Clever hack brings Plex to the Apple TV, no jailbreak required”

  1. Jimmy Lees

    Steve – can you Airplay 1080p mkv’s from your MacBook Plex app to an Apple TV 3?

    I thought only itunes movies airplayed properly.

    Do these airplayed mkv’s stutter at all?

  2. The Gooch

    Steve – That’s a great idea for people who have an iOS device and don’t want to mess with their ATV’s DNS. I’m going with Plex connect first and I’ll fall back on Airplay if that doesn’t work.

  3. Steve

    iOS Plex app + Airplay works fine for me w/ outstanding quality. I realize its not as efficient…but its simple and works fine for me.

  4. Laughing_Boy48

    Now I’d be interested in AppleTV but I feel certain Apple is going to circumvent the PLEX hack. Apple thinks that iTunes is so damn perfect. I might even consider iTunes if it could accommodate .mkv files, but that will never happen. All my video files are .mkv and I refuse to use anything else. I currently use a Roku 3 running as a PLEX client. Apple is being seriously retarded for not allowing clients like this from running on ATV3. How does a company the size and wealth of Apple fall behind Roku? Apple has such a great opportunity to open up ATV to third parties, but that’s what happens when you have a product a company can simply afford to call a hobby.

    • ll I want is a full PLEX client on linux. I can already build a linux media PC for the cost of an ATV, but would have to run Windows or OS X on it t get the full front end..
      I’d love the full features of the iOS or ‘Droid or Win8 Metro client, but I’m stuck with plex Web, which isnt “remote” friendly, you have to have keyboard and mouse.
      For slightly more, you can even use an Intel i3 powered NUC. You only need a Gig of RAM and an SD card to boot from for XBMC in Ubuntu, but PLEXBMC is still flakey for me, and still not as elegant or “family friendly” as the normal PLEX clients.

      I’m wondering about trying one of those little “Droids on a stick” though. Has anyone tried the PLEX client on those?

  5. Tarique Naseem

    Works really well. I can confirm that the internet channels are working fine too.

    If only Apple would open the damn thing for third party apps. Been waiting for a couple of years thinking it was imminent (hence why I bought the devices)! Still, I have my Roku to keep me company in the meantime too :)