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XBMC ported to A4-based Apple TV, iPad, iPhone 4, brings apps, 1080p

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
XBMC, an open source, free software project designed to provide an extendable platform for TV set top boxes, has been ported to the new iOS based Apple TV, iPhone 4 and iPad.

XBMC on Apple TV

The XBMC software, which already runs on the previous Mac OS X-based, Intel x86 Apple TV, has now been released to work on the ARM Architecture A4 chip used in the new iOS version, offering the ability to install apps and play content formats Apple doesn't natively support on its $99 box.

The new port makes Apple TV one of the cheapest devices that can run the XBMC platform (originally targeted at the first generation Xbox as "Xbox Media Center"), but it's not just cheap; it also appears to be quite powerful.

While previous versions of Apple TV lacked the hardware processing capacity for XBMC to deliver 1080p video (without replacing its mini-PCIe WiFi card with a Broadcom Crystal HD hardware acceleration unit), the beta version of XBMC is able to play 1080p video using the stock A4 of the new box, something Apple itself doesn't support in its own software.

Rather than only allowing for thin client streaming, the new release for Apple TV will support the full XBMC platform, including support for playing a variety of codecs, with hardware support for both 720p and 1080p HD video. The group says that "no longer is your AppleTV2 chained to iTunes."



Playback of 1080p content isn't ideal, with a report by Engadget noting "occasional choppiness," (with a demonstration video of XBMC running on the new Apple TV, below), but the finding does highlight the latent processing power of the A4, and by extension, the incredible potential of this year's replacement chip expected for use in iPad 2, iPhone 5 and potentially a new Apple TV.

That new chip, which may be called A5 or A8, is expected to offer dual core Cortex-A9 CPU power and deliver four times the graphics performance of A4 using a dual core SGX543 GPU.



XMBC for ARM: iPhone 4 and iPad

After porting XBMC to the A4 chip for the new Apple TV, the group has decided to also release the software for the architecturally similar iPad and iPhone 4, "because we can."

Apple's iOS family are the first ARM Architecture devices able to run XBMC. Previous releases run on x86 PCs and Macs, and originally the first Xbox, a port which has since been discontinued (the modern Xbox 360 is PowerPC based and can not run XBMC). An XBMC remote app exists for Android, but only functions as a controller for a standalone XBMC machine.

Loading XBMC on an iPhone 4 or iPad requires jailbreaking, as the team observes, "you wont be seeing XBMC in the app-store any time soon, since it directly competes with Apple products." The group provides instruction for loading the software on jailbroken devices for both the new Apple TV as well as iPhone 4 and iPad via Cydia.

post #2 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Playback of 1080p content isn't idea, with a report by Engadget noting "occasional choppiness,"

Proofread carefully to make sure you don't leav anything out.

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post #3 of 41
Yowza, no we are talking! I might finally break down and buy one.
Crying? No, I am not crying. I am sweating through my eyes.
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post #4 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Playback of 1080p content isn't ideal, with a report by Engadget noting "occasional choppiness," (with a demonstration video of XBMC running on the new Apple TV, below), but the finding does highlight the latent processing power of the A4, and by extension, the incredible potential of this year's replacement chip expected for use in iPad 2, iPhone 5 and potentially a new Apple TV.

Was the 1080p codec H.264 and did they get HW acceleration or using the CPU for the decoding?

Quote:
That new chip, which may be called A5 or A8, is expected to offer dual core Cortex-A9 CPU power and deliver four times the graphics performance of A4 using a dual core SGX543 GPU.

1) What a horrible naming convention if they call the successor of the Cortex-A8 the Apple A8 if they are using A Cortex-A9.

2) 4x the GPU performance certainly seems the minimum needed for this retina display for the iPad.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #5 of 41
Dilger is back to being paid by the word... What is this, the third article today from him?

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #6 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Dilger is back to being paid by the word... What is this, the third article today from him?

And, if he is, so what?

Jealous, after 10,000+ posts?
post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

Proofread carefully to make sure you don't leav anything out.


I see what you did ther
post #8 of 41
Anybody know whether this hack will let the aTV access local USB storage, or does it still depend entirely on the network? Also, does xbmc require a continuous Internet connection?
post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

And, if he is, so what?

Jealous, after 10,000+ posts?

Oh, my gosh. I didn't even notice I'd gone that far!

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tazinlwfl View Post

I see what you did ther

I c wht u did thr (fixed it for you).

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post #11 of 41
thred is xperencing sm chpines
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #12 of 41
Aside from 1080p, what am I seeing here that the Apple TV doesn't already do? All that fussing about just to avoid iTunes?

Also, I love high-quality video. I love HD video. But there are two reasons why 1080p is becoming a bit of a bugbear of mine:

1) Nobody has a screen at home big enough to show up the difference in resolution over 720p. It would have to be a huge display to deliver any kind of meaningful improvement yet people crave it.

2) Compression. In so many instances a 1080p video has been so compressed out of necessity that any advantage in fidelity its increased resolution may once have had is just lost. YouTube is a prime example. There is just no point using the 1080p stream over the 720p stream.

I was blown away by DVDs back when they were new but it wasn't the modest increase in resolution over VHS that made them better, it was the high data rate quality of the digital playback. Play a DVD on a 50"screen it still looks great. 720p makes the same film really pop - it's worth it - but 1080p is just unnecessary in the home.

I suspect 1080p was always intended to be a cinema screen format where it might actually be useful.
post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by hypercommunist View Post

Anybody know whether this hack will let the aTV access local USB storage, or does it still depend entirely on the network? Also, does xbmc require a continuous Internet connection?


In for this.
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post

Aside from 1080p, what am I seeing here that the Apple TV doesn't already do? All that fussing about just to avoid iTunes?

There is more support for codecs and containers.

Regarding 1080p, I’d bet money Apple’s A4 has an Imagination Tech PowerVR VXD decoder paired with the PowerVR SVG535 GPU that can decode 1080p H.264. Apple may not want to release this feature until iTS supports 1080p downloads, or some other reason. I bet the limitation of XMBC is their current inability to access this HW. This was an issue with Boxee on the original AppleTV, IIRC.
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post #15 of 41
Meanwhile, Google's Chrome browser is now at version 9. So impressive!

OT, I know, but I couldn't resist pointing out the tremendous progress.

I can't wait for 11!
post #16 of 41
X-M-B-C... hey you know me!
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post #17 of 41
There already exist a porting of the XBMC to Apple platforms.
Is is called Plex.

Titan10
post #18 of 41
Sooner have a port of Boxee like my First Gen AppleTV.
post #19 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Was the 1080p codec H.264 and did they get HW acceleration or using the CPU for the decoding?

Using VXD = hardware acceleration.

=> private API

"It's the API Apple 'should' have exposed instead of VDADecoder," Davilla explained. "VDADecoder is just a thin wrapper around the VideoToolBox API and is how the use of VideoToolBox was discovered."
http://www.tuaw.com/2011/01/20/xbmc-...ble/#continued
post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post

I was blown away by DVDs back when they were new but it wasn't the modest increase in resolution over VHS that made them better, it was the high data rate quality of the digital playback. Play a DVD on a 50"screen it still looks great. 720p makes the same film really pop - it's worth it - but 1080p is just unnecessary in the home.

I suspect 1080p was always intended to be a cinema screen format where it might actually be useful.

A DVD does not look "great" on a 50" screen, it is acceptable, but no where near great. And if you are watching an 1080p Apple trailer, or a youtube video on your TV maybe that's why you can't see a difference between 1080p and 720p, watch a 1080p video from a decent source and you will notice a big difference.
post #21 of 41
"you won’t be seeing XBMC in the app-store any time soon, since it directly competes with Apple products"

Translation: we have no idea if Apple will accept this for the App Store, because we haven't even tried, but we're assuming not because we have an axe to grind.
post #22 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I c wht u did thr (fixed it for you).

I guess you didn't get the joke
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance" - Steve Ballmer
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"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance" - Steve Ballmer
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post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gee4orce View Post

"you wont be seeing XBMC in the app-store any time soon, since it directly competes with Apple products"

Translation: we have no idea if Apple will accept this for the App Store, because we haven't even tried, but we're assuming not because we have an axe to grind.

More like "As L33t Hackz0rs who don't believe in paying or charging for software, our income depends on selling our beard hair and whatever we can find in our mom's basement, so we can't afford the Apple developer licence fees needed to submit it to the app store."
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance" - Steve Ballmer
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"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance" - Steve Ballmer
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post #24 of 41
Might justify buying a TV.

I need something that plays DivXs and other filetypes while at the same time maintaing support for everything I've bought from iTunes. Some of the other set top solutions out there handle the former but not the later. The out of the box Apple TV can only play a third of my stuff . . .

Great news in my opinion. Now I don't need a couch in my office to watch movies on my Mac's LCD
post #25 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

the beta version of XBMC is able to play 1080p video using the stock A4 of the new box, something Apple itself doesn't support in its own software.

Hey, ahh, the Apple TV does already decode 1080p home movies. If you export from iMovie in their 1080p format it streams and plays fine from the AppleTV.

I presume, however, that it's down-scaled to 720p - even if it's then output at 1080i...?
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


The group says that "no longer is your AppleTV2 chained to iTunes."





These hackers should be put in jail as soon as possible. That is just plain stealing.
post #27 of 41
From the video - "Much more impressive than Apple's device can do". Huh? This is Apple's device you engadget numpty.
post #28 of 41
Why all the XBMC hate? It supports more codecs, plug-ins (Hulu anyone?), and skips iTunes for movie playback.
post #29 of 41
I remember using XBMC back in the Xbox mod days. Cool to see they're expanding they're expanding it's base, since I didn't bother to mod my 360 and haven't used my original Xbox in quite awhile.
post #30 of 41
XBMC is going to be great for people with multiple file codecs and containers but the main reason to use it were its metadata auto-seek features.

But imo its much easier to used .m4v files that can actually hold metadata information from within the file and just drag it into itunes. XBMC store is metadata in separate files. With .m4v files, all you need to do is populate the metadata using tools like identify (mac OS-X) and its done once and for all has the data will follow the file wherever you copy it.

On the other hand, if you have a library of many file formats and codecs then XBMC is for you. You could always convert everything to .m4v files using handbrake but it may be too time consuming for lots of folks. Imo its worth it for people manipulating there own dvd/BR collection but bittorrent downloaders would probably want to be able to play there files directly with no conversion.

The AppleTV2 is now the cheapest HTPC in the world.
post #31 of 41
Not that it really matters, but please note that XBMC is only decoding 1080p files, and outputting them at 720p, not outputting 1080p.
post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gee4orce View Post

Translation: we have no idea if Apple will accept this for the App Store, because we haven't even tried, but we're assuming not because we have an axe to grind.

Perhaps they haven't tried because there is no App Store (yet) for the AppleTV? Not sure if there's as much of a market for XBMC on iPad... I downloaded VLC for my iPhone and never really found a use for it (even though it's the only media player I use on my Mac and Linux machines).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gromit View Post

Sooner have a port of Boxee like my First Gen AppleTV.

As soon as Boxee is ported, I'll dump my first-gen AppleTV. I love it to death but had to supplement it with a WD HD Live for >480p content. It does the trick, but the interface sucks, plus I'd love to eliminate the extra device and add Netflix streaming (I bought my WD before the plus came out... sigh). I have XBMC on my current TV but never really got on with its UI the way I have with Boxee. Plus if Boxee is ported, we might be able to get Hulu too (or has a Hulu plugin made for XBMC?).
post #33 of 41
The XMBC website isn't that clear on what the program actually does.
But I am assuming that it will stream media from a shared drive so you don't need an itunes server running.

Is that right?
post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjwal View Post

The XMBC website isn't that clear on what the program actually does.
But I am assuming that it will stream media from a shared drive so you don't need an itunes server running.

Is that right?

Amongst other things, yes.
post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeCallMe...Tim View Post

These hackers should be put in jail as soon as possible. That is just plain stealing.

They are actually jail-breakers, so putting them in jail would not be very effective.

Federal courts have rulled jail-breaking your personal hardware is not breaking the law. These folks are just hastening the inevitable for the iOS driven AppleTV2. You should be happy, jail-breaking ultimately led Apple to deploy the App store for the iPhone wouldn't you welcome the same thing for AppleTV?
post #36 of 41
I have a 42" tv (not huge) and the difference between 720p and 1080p is clearly visible.
You're simply echoing what others are shouting, but start to actually compare on your couch and there is a big difference.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post

Aside from 1080p, what am I seeing here that the Apple TV doesn't already do? All that fussing about just to avoid iTunes?

Also, I love high-quality video. I love HD video. But there are two reasons why 1080p is becoming a bit of a bugbear of mine:

1) Nobody has a screen at home big enough to show up the difference in resolution over 720p. It would have to be a huge display to deliver any kind of meaningful improvement yet people crave it.

2) Compression. In so many instances a 1080p video has been so compressed out of necessity that any advantage in fidelity its increased resolution may once have had is just lost. YouTube is a prime example. There is just no point using the 1080p stream over the 720p stream.

I was blown away by DVDs back when they were new but it wasn't the modest increase in resolution over VHS that made them better, it was the high data rate quality of the digital playback. Play a DVD on a 50"screen it still looks great. 720p makes the same film really pop - it's worth it - but 1080p is just unnecessary in the home.

I suspect 1080p was always intended to be a cinema screen format where it might actually be useful.
post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfanning View Post

A DVD does not look "great" on a 50" screen, it is acceptable, but no where near great. And if you are watching an 1080p Apple trailer, or a youtube video on your TV maybe that's why you can't see a difference between 1080p and 720p, watch a 1080p video from a decent source and you will notice a big difference.

My experience as well.
post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Titan10 View Post

There already exist a porting of the XBMC to Apple platforms.
Is is called Plex.

Titan10

I was thinking the same thing. they are built on the same platform
post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by funkdis View Post

In for this.

Found on http://xbmc.org/theuni/2011/01/20/yo...-ipad-iphone4/

No external drives, HDD or DVD. I believe the ATV 2 USB operates in device mode or client mode only
post #40 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tazinlwfl View Post

I see what you did ther

I see what you did there to
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