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Next-Gen Apple TV Doesn’t Play Nice with Home Control

With diskless design and proprietary communications, next-gen Apple TV evades integration with third-party control systems. Autonomic, Extra Vegetables explain options.


Extra Vegetables, Control4 and Apple TV Version 1: match made in heaven.
Julie Jacobson · October 20, 2010
“This particular client/server key exchange was introduced in iTunes 7 to protect shared libraries and the AirTunes audio stream,” de Nigris explains. “It has never been cracked.”

But there is great urgency today, de Nigris suggests: “Now that it stands in the way of Apple TV control too, and given that there are several third-party Apple TV control apps for Android and other platforms, there may be more motivation by the hacking community.  We’ll see.”

Apple TV: What’s an Integrator to do?

In short, avoid Apple TV 2 for integration purposes, and not just because of its “effective lack of control,” de Nigris advises.

“We think its inability to operate autonomously (you need another computer running for content), and its lack of analog audio outputs or component video make the thing far less suited to custom install pros.” 

image
Apple TV interface from Autonomic

If you’re happy with the way Apple TV integrates with your third-party control system, stick with the program.

Otherwise, says de Nigris, “Were still compatible with iTunes, so we’re advising our dealers to use a Mac Mini or the Mirage Media Server as an alternative.”

Mirage is a rich media server that combines S1Digital hardware with Autonomic software. (A similar version, Media Port Elite, is sold by NuVo Technologies.)

Extra Vegetables created a technical note for its dealers, explaining several alternatives to Apple TV 2. The entire note is reproduced below.

Control4 and Apple TV Version 2 – Options going forward

Extra Vegetables Technical Note, Oct. 2010

The Control4 – Apple TV driver has been one of our most successful drivers. It has enabled easy integration of an iTunes library with a Control4 system. It has made it simple for your customers to rip their music and to instantly select it from their Control4 interfaces.

With the release of the second generation of Apple TV, Apple has made the audio aspects of the Apple TV secondary to the video aspects. They have deleted the internal hard drive and the analog audio. They have also changed the way in which the Apple TV communicates with computers in the home. You no longer associate an Apple TV with an iTunes library; now you join it to the iTunes ‘Home Sharing’ network. This has the advantage that the Apple TV can now play music from multiple iTunes accounts.

The biggest problem is that the iPhone Remote App now communicates to the Apple TV using Apple’s proprietary encryption system. This is not open or published. Neither has it been cracked – and to do so would probably upset Apple and their lawyers!


  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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