Boxee takes social networks, web video to Apple TV

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Having already earned a small reputation as a homebrew enthusiast's device, Apple TV received a large but unofficial makeover on Wednesday with Boxee, a complete project that aims to fill in the gaps in community, video formats and Internet streams left open by Apple.



The third-party software, currently in an invite-only alpha stage, relies on the same drive image creator and bootloaders as aTV Flash to create a plug-in modification of Apple TV's front end that sits primarily on a removable USB drive. For now, it requires an Intel-based Mac and at least a 512MB flash drive.



It runs on the same basic foundations as XBMC, a project originally designed to turn the Xbox into a media hub, but has been modernized both for later computer-borne versions as well as Apple's set-top box. At a minimum, users can play audio, photo and video formats that are normally off-limits in the officially sanctioned firmware, such as AVI and Matroska (MKV) files, Ogg Vorbis music and ISO images.



For Apple TV, Boxee has a new interface tailor-made just for its widescreen HDTV audience and puts a link to the app within the main Apple TV menu so that users can keep to the default interface if they prefer.



The developers are counting on Boxee's Internet component to be the real catalyst, however. Direct hooks are built-in to stream audio and video from several large free services, such as BBC and CNN for news, CNET, Revision3's podcasts and Last.fm music. Access to the Fox/NBC movie and TV website Hulu is also promised by the end of 2008.



Boxee's home screen with recommendations and friend activity.



Browsing movies on Boxee.



Owners also won't have to sit in isolation as they do with Apple's default hardware, the creators note: a friend system not only gives friends a quick look at content they've played but the ability to recommend that content to others. Exports are also available to send recent playback history to FriendFeed, Tumblr, or Twitter.



And while Apple has never actively discouraged users from modifying Apple TV code outside of usual warranty disclaimers -- the company itself describes Apple TV as a "hobby" -- Boxee is explicitly billed as an open-source project that allows anyone to roll in new format support or features where Apple's official software would be locked down.



The team for the community hack says it's eager to receive more testers and will try to approve as many AppleInsider readers as it can, "as quickly as possible;" those who successfully land an invitation are also encouraged to send invites to friends. A demonstration of Boxee in action is available below (click the image to play).



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    What I want to know is, will it still allow you to use the rest of the AppleTV functions the same? Like renting movies from iTS?
  • Reply 2 of 31
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    This is a great addition and the product seems interesting, but you guys are being seriously irresponsible in the way you are presenting it. Not everyone is a technician or computer geek.



    Apart from the one word "unofficial" in the first statement, you have put nothing in this article to really give the average user a clear idea that this is an un-sanctioned hardware hack. I know to a person familiar with all the tech news this might not seem like a big deal, but seriously... by far the majority of your readers are NOT computer experts.



    You should clearly state what things are. This is a hack. it probably violates the consumer warranty to use it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but that's what it is and you should say so.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    wilcowilco Posts: 985member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    This is a hack. it probably violates the consumer warranty to use it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but that's what it is and you should say so.



    Why don't you find out before going off on some tirade like a b*tch?



    Do you really think people who come here don't know that this software isn't sanctioned by Apple?



    "Seriously irresponsible"?



  • Reply 4 of 31
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    This is a great addition and the product seems interesting, but you guys are being seriously irresponsible in the way you are presenting it. Not everyone is a technician or computer geek.



    Apart from the one word "unofficial" in the first statement, you have put nothing in this article to really give the average user a clear idea that this is an un-sanctioned hardware hack. I know to a person familiar with all the tech news this might not seem like a big deal, but seriously... by far the majority of your readers are NOT computer experts.



    You should clearly state what things are. This is a hack. it probably violates the consumer warranty to use it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but that's what it is and you should say so.



    Did you even read Aidan's article? Or did you just glance at the title and come here to blow off steam?



    K
  • Reply 5 of 31
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The team for the community hack says it's eager to receive more testers and will try to approve as many AppleInsider readers as it can, "as quickly as possible;" those who successfully land an invitation are also encouraged to send invites to friends.



    How do I get on this AppleInsider list ? I signed up on the site after reading this article and it said 'you may have to wait several weeks to be approved'. I would install it tonight on my appletv.
  • Reply 6 of 31
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,984member
    Sounds cool. Please can you expand on this section:



    "For Apple TV, Boxee has a new interface tailor-made just for its widescreen HDTV audience and puts a link to the app within the main Apple TV menu so that users can keep to the default interface if they prefer."



    So one can flip back and forth between current ATV interface AND Boxee ... right? It's the 'if they prefer' that puzzles me. What is the alternative if 'they don't prefer', to have only Boxee interface I assume?
  • Reply 7 of 31
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    This is really cool and I want to do it. Digitialclips is right, if I can flop back and forth as I'd like (which I would do all the time) this could be really awesome. I'd use Boxee to play my avi's and mkvs and apple tv for everything else, all in one box, that would be so dope.



    Virgil-TB2 you really do have no idea what is going on do you? The mentions the warranty issue and states It is a closed BETA. Joe Blo will not buy an appletv, come here to download it, brick his system and take it to apple all pissy. That doesn't even make sense.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    digitalclips, The alternative is to access limited content via the Apple TV interface.



    Just like how you can access media with ATVFiles or NitoTV or the default interface.
  • Reply 9 of 31
    if apple tv can play 1080p mkv files?
  • Reply 10 of 31
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    Null.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by retroneo View Post


    digitalclips, The alternative is to access limited content via the Apple TV interface.



    Just like how you can access media with ATVFiles or NitoTV or the default interface.



    Ok thanks, so an option to hop to the full Boxee interface from the full Apple interface (and back) is the best of both Worlds. I assumed that but wanted to make sure.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kasper View Post


    Did you even read Aidan's article? Or did you just glance at the title and come here to blow off steam?



    K



    Well the title of the article is ambiguous to begin with.



    Also, has AI been taken over by pop-ups and flash mania? It can be very very difficult to get a page to even load correctly these days.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    cory bauercory bauer Posts: 1,286member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sandau View Post


    How do I get on this AppleInsider list ? I signed up on the site after reading this article and it said 'you may have to wait several weeks to be approved'. I would install it tonight on my appletv.



    I'm wondering the same. Where do I sign up?
  • Reply 14 of 31
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sandau View Post


    How do I get on this AppleInsider list ? I signed up on the site after reading this article and it said 'you may have to wait several weeks to be approved'. I would install it tonight on my appletv.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post


    I'm wondering the same. Where do I sign up?



    Just google Boxee and sign up on their site. You'll get an email telling you you'll get an invite on Monday.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Just google Boxee and sign up on their site. You'll get an email telling you you'll get an invite on Monday.



    Hopefully, but it doesn't appear like any priority to me, it can be weeks:





    thank you for signing up for the boxee alpha.



    we are sending invites to new alpha testers every Monday.

    there is quite a backlog, and we are trying to grow at a controlled pace, so you may have to wait a few weeks before you receive your invite.



    thanks,

    - team boxee
  • Reply 16 of 31
    cory bauercory bauer Posts: 1,286member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sandau View Post


    Hopefully, but it doesn't appear like any priority to me, it can be weeks:





    thank you for signing up for the boxee alpha.



    we are sending invites to new alpha testers every Monday.

    there is quite a backlog, and we are trying to grow at a controlled pace, so you may have to wait a few weeks before you receive your invite.



    thanks,

    - team boxee



    Right. It doesn't even let you specify which version you're looking to get (Apple TV, PC, Linux, Mac).
  • Reply 17 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post


    Right. It doesn't even let you specify which version you're looking to get (Apple TV, PC, Linux, Mac).



    It does let you choose which version you're looking for, right above the email entry box. Coming from AppleInsider, it appears to default to Apple ( don't remember whether there was a differentiator between OSX and ATV). But that would probably be addressed when you get your invite.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sundoggy View Post


    It does let you choose which version you're looking for, right above the email entry box. Coming from AppleInsider, it appears to default to Apple ( don't remember whether there was a differentiator between OSX and ATV). But that would probably be addressed when you get your invite.



    on the sign up page it has an "I am an xx user with Apple, LInux, and Windows", which I checked all 3 since I am a user and could install on all three... but specifically i am interested right now with Apple TV - but I didn't know that checking one or more could change your timeframe for alpha testing. its not clear from the site or request.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    cory bauercory bauer Posts: 1,286member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sundoggy View Post


    It does let you choose which version you're looking for, right above the email entry box. Coming from AppleInsider, it appears to default to Apple ( don't remember whether there was a differentiator between OSX and ATV). But that would probably be addressed when you get your invite.



    Sorry, you're right. I meant to say it doesn't let you specify Apple TV.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    a/uxa/ux Posts: 38member
    What the article does not mention is that the patchstick is already posted and publicly available. Go to the Boxee blog:



    http://blog.boxee.tv/



    It provides a link to the place where you can download and install the code. Also, this will not void your AppleTV warranty, it will just make your AppleTV unsupported after you install it. If you decide that you need Apple support again, all you have to do is revert to factory settings in the AppleTV interface and Boxee will be wiped off the AppleTV.



    Get the code for the patchstick, called ATVUSB-Creator, here:



    http://code.google.com/p/atvusb-creator/



    Can't wait to try this when I get home!
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