Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hack Apple TV for Watching Chinese TVs and Videos

[Hack Patriot Box Office for Watching Chinese Videos and TVs]
Figure 1.  Apple TV
Apple TV (ATV) is a multi-function set-top box designed by Apple Inc. originally as a networked media player for streaming multimedia contents to a television or an external monitor.  Now, it seemingly evolves into a iPod Touch without a touch screen but with a relatively inexpensive MSRP price tag of $99.  (Indeed, if you have an old generation iPod Touch, you may think about mirroring or airplay it onto a television instead.)  On March 7, 2012, Apple Inc. released a 3rd generation ATV (ATV3)  that includes a 32 nm ARM Cortex-A9 Apple A5 SoC (the same process as used in a 5th generation iPod Touch, a new iPad 2 and an iPad Mini) and 512MB mobile DDR2 memory (the same amount of memory as used in an iPhone 4).  An ATV3 has a buit-in 6 W power supply with no cooling fan necessary.  Unfortunately, until now, there is no public released jailbreak available for an ATV3, so modified software or apps such as XBMC cannot run on it.

Because Apple TV (ATV) is such an elegant device with a small footprint and intuitive to use functionalities, I know many people want to use it for watching all kinds of internet videos, e.g., those Chinese TVs and videos widely available over the internet.  Hereafter, a small hack or trick will be explained for this purpose.  A nice feature of this hack is that no modification on either the hardware or the software is necessary on your Apple TV.  No jailbreaking is required and therefore, the manufacture warranty is fully preserved.  

In this blog, I will explain a set of configurations applicable to an ATV3 with Apple TV iOS 4.4+ updates, which include the app, iTunes Movie Trailers.  The set of configurations include several ATV client side configurations and two optional web server side configurations.  If you can fluently read Chinese, here are references to this hack:
Before starting the configurations, it may be necessary for you to: 
  1. verify that your ATV is powered and properly connected to your television;
  2. verify that you can navigate the Apple TV interface;
  3. verify that your ATV is properly connected to your network;
  4. verify that the network is properly configured.  
For "How to start your ATV?," you may check online references such as http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2280  or http://support.apple.com/manuals/#appletv.


In fact, the original Trailer app is a link pointing to a XML file hosted on a apple server: http://trailers.apple.com/appletv/index.xml.  Apparently, a Chinese ATV fan figured a way to set up his own DNS server@210.129.145.150 and to configure an ATV to direct the original Trailer link to his own XML file.  In the following, the set of ATV client side configurations teach you how to set up your Apple TV and redirect he original Trailer link to a new XML file hosted on a Chinese server.  After this, another set of ATV server side configurations will teach you how to further personalize the new XML file.

ATV Client Side Configurations

  1. ATV Network Configurations.
    1. From the main Apple TV menu,  choose Setting -> General ->  Network -> Configure TCP/IP -> Manual
    2. Don't change and keep your workable "IP Address"
    3. Don't change and keep your workable "Subnet Mask"
    4. Don't change and keep your workable "Router"
    5. When prompted, change "DNS Address" to "210.129.145.150"
    6. Press the Menu button on the remote once to return to the previous screen.
  2. ATV iTune Configuration
    1. From the main Apple TV menu, choose Settings -> iTunes Store. 
    2. Confirm "Location" is "United States".  Otherwise, scroll to highlight "United States" and select it.
    3. Press the Menu button on the remote once to return to the previous screen.
  3. Find an UID of your ATV and/or register for an account for later server side configurations

    1. From the main Apple TV menu, choose Trailers and you may find that a homepage of the Apple app, Trailers, becomes a new homepage, on which there is a "Apple TV" link listed in the middle next to three popular Chinese video sites such as iQiyi, Sohu video and PPTV listed on the top.
    2. From the main Apple TV menu, choose Trailers -> Apple TV -> Personal -> Personal Links
    3. Find a sentence "个人 xxxxxxxxx " and this xxxxxxxx is the UID for your ATV.
    4. Alternatively from the main Apple TV menu, choose Trailers -> Apple TV -> Personal, you can register an account

Web Server Side Configurations (Optional)

After you finish the above client side configuration on your Apple TV,  you should be able to find several pre-loaded apps or links displayed after you click the Trailer app. Among the pre-loaded apps, there is a "Personal app" or "个人 app" in the middle of the screen.  This "Personal app" or "个人 app" provides a directory storing links to your favorite programs or TV sources.  Here are two approaches for configuring your "Personal app" or "个人 app:"  
  1. Approach 1:  If you have found your UID from your ATV and want to use it for the server side configurations, go to http://www.atvttvv.net/login.html 
  2. Approach 2: If you have registered an account on your ATV, you can go to http://serv.tttnt.com:8580/login.html