The Boxee rebellion

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Recently Apple released the Apple TV 2.3 update, an update that brought four noteworthy improvements:

1. You can stream music from your Apple TV to an AirPort Express Base Station or other Apple TV via AirTunes.

2. The Apple TV can work with a greater variety of remote controls.

3. Video playlists created in iTunes appear on the Apple TV.

4. You can control the Apple TV's music volume with your remote.

While this was welcome news to some Apple TV owners, those, like me, who’d hacked their Apple TVs with the open source ATV USB Creator greeted the news with a single question:

Will this kill Boxee on my Apple TV?

And when it became clear that the answer was a disappointing but emphatic Yes, a vast majority of those Apple TV owners replied, “No, thanks.”

Because, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, Boxee enhances the Apple TV in marvelous ways. With Boxee installed you can, among other things, stream content from Comedy Central, Hulu, BBC,, SHOUTcast, Flickr, and PicasaWeb to your Apple TV.

Given all the goodness Boxee brings to your Apple TV, you can understand why some people turned up their noses. Fortunately, they can lower their nostrils because ATV USB Creator has been updated to version 1.0b10, a version that’s compatible with Apple TV 2.3.

Breaking the box

Or, mostly. Some people have had difficulties getting Boxee to run on their Apple TVs. Here’s the fix if you try to access Boxee on your Apple TV and are greeted with a black screen:

On the Apple TV go to Settings: General: Network and jot down your Apple TV’s IP address. Return to the Apple TV’s main screen.

Launch Terminal on your Mac and enter:

ssh frontrow@(appletvIPaddress)

(Where appletvIPaddress is the IP address of your Apple TV.)

Press Return.

When prompted for a password, enter frontrow and press Return.

Finally, enter rm -rf ~/Library/Application\ Support/BOXEE/UserData/

Press Return and launch Boxee on the Apple TV. It should work.

But wait…

…there is and isn’t more.

Is. As of 8AM Pacific Standard Time this very day, a new Boxee is on the way. And that new Boxee brings a killer feature—support for Netflix’s online content. Yep, you can now use Boxee to browse, queue, and play streaming Netflix video.

Additionally, Boxee now supports The WB (Buffy, The O.C., and Firefly included), The Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog, and MTVMusic. Also, the existing Hulu, YouTube, CNN, Flickr, and Picasa interfaces have improved browsing and playback features. And the Hulu interface now lets you access personal queues.

Isn’t. No support for Netflix on the Apple TV. Yet.

Bummer, yes. For now, if you want to use Boxee to view Netflix content (and you do), you’re confined to doing so on your computer. But rest assured that the Boxee folks get it. They understand that the addition of Netflix to the Apple TV would make many, many Apple TV owners hop with happiness.

Apple TV owners like me, for example. And when Netflix support arrives you can be sure I’ll mention it. In the meantime, enjoy these images of the new interface.

The Netflix queue.

Searching Netflix.

MTVMusic videos.

The new Hulu interface.

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