Why you should jailbreak your Apple TV - and how to do it

Unlock the potential of your Apple TV and stream video with ease

apple tv jailbreak
Credit: ITworld Staff/Shutterstock

Disclaimer: Jailbreaking your device is against apple's terms of service and will void your warranty. Proceed at your own risk.

The Apple TV might be the perfect media center for the average tech connected home. It's tiny, it's powerful, but unfortunately when it comes to streaming video, it's useless. Sure it does some stuff with video, you can hook into a computer running iTunes and play movies, and you can buy movies and TV Shows, but good luck playing anything you own not purchased via iTunes. Oh, you decided to rent an HD movie from Apple tonight? I hope you planned ahead because it's probably going to take three or four hours to download.

[ SEE ALSO: How to use an Apple TV as a presentation device, and why you should ]

All is not lost though. With a small surgical procedure to free your device from the shackles of iTunes, you can convert this little wonder into a video powerhouse.

The Procedure

You've probably heard of jailbreaking an iPhone. It's the process of gaining root access to the device so that you have full control and freedom over its firmware and operating system. What you may not have known is that any iOS device can be jailbroken. That goes for the Apple TV, iPad, and iPods as well.

Before we get into the process of jailbreaking your Apple TV, let's discuss why you would want to:

  • The Apple TV is essentially a tiny linux Unix computer with a powerful graphics processor, it can do a lot more stuff

  • It's capable of decoding and streaming a wide range of video formats (like the popular mkv) without conversion

  • XBMC compatibility, arguably the best media software out there for HTPCs

  • 3rd party applications become available

  • It's cheap, at $99 it's better than most HTPCs three times the cost. Once you jailbreak it of course

  • It's easier today than it has ever been

What you'll need

Sold on the idea? Here is what you'll need to complete the jailbreak:

  1. A computer with the latest iTunes installed.

    • A laptop works best so you can bring it to your TV

  2. An Apple TV 1 or Apple TV 2.

    • As of this writing the jailbreak for Apple TV 3 has not been released, but it's coming - UPDATE: or is it?

  3. Jailbreaking software

  4. A micro USB cable

  5. The Apple TV remote

Up next, The Jailbreak

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