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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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 won?t 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.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member
    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.



  • Reply 2 of 40
    Yowza, no we are talking! I might finally break down and buy one.
  • Reply 3 of 40
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 40
    Dilger is back to being paid by the word... What is this, the third article today from him?
  • Reply 5 of 40
    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?
  • Reply 6 of 40
    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
  • Reply 7 of 40
    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?
  • Reply 8 of 40
    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!
  • Reply 9 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tazinlwfl View Post


    I see what you did ther



    I c wht u did thr (fixed it for you).
  • Reply 10 of 40
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    thred is xperencing sm chpines
  • Reply 11 of 40
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 40
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 40
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 40
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,415member
    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!
  • Reply 15 of 40
    X-M-B-C... hey you know me!
  • Reply 16 of 40
    There already exist a porting of the XBMC to Apple platforms.

    Is is called Plex.



    Titan10
  • Reply 17 of 40
    Sooner have a port of Boxee like my First Gen AppleTV.
  • Reply 18 of 40
    apfelapfel Posts: 29member
    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
  • Reply 19 of 40
    jfanningjfanning Posts: 3,382member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 40
    "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.
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