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Plex Blog

Introducing PlexConnect, an AppleTV client which Thinks Different

Jun
04
2013

One of the coolest things about building a media server with a API is that you never know what sort of clients are going to appear out of thin air. Over the years we’ve been incredibly impressed with a wide range of projects: The original Plex for Roku, the insanely popular Plex for Samsung app, and even the original version of Plex/Web were all developed by people who wanted to see Plex go where it had never gone before. (Also note that we hired Eric, the Plex/Web guy. If you want a full-time job with Plex, now you know what impresses more than a résumé.)

There’s one little box in the living room which hasn’t been as fully compatible with Plex as we’ve liked, and that’s the Apple TV. There’s been a Plex client available for a few years now, but only for Jailbroken devices, which means the more powerful v3 device can’t be used (and let’s face it, Jailbreaking can be tricky). Oh, and we hired one of those guys too.

Enter PlexConnect. The brainchild of Baaroidy and f00b4r, it’s a super clever little hack which allows a rich, fully-functional Plex client on un-jailbroken ATV2 and ATV3 (1080p!) devices. Essentially, you run a program on your computer which masquerades as the Trailer app. Next, change one setting on the ATV, and you’re up and running. It took me less than 2 minutes to install and get it running. It already uses the new transcoder (which means great support for subtitles), and I suspect it’ll support myPlex soon as well. In the PlexPass preview release of the media server, it also supports AC3 5.1 (remuxing and transcoding from DTS). Another cool thing: it supports iTunes DRM’ed video files.

Unlike the other Plex client for ATV2, this one uses XML and Javascript, which means it’s super easy to develop for. We can only hope that Apple opens up their App Store to these ATV “widgets” at some point.

Without further ado, I’ll leave you with some screenshots of PlexConnect. You can install the official version from here, or if you’re running v5.2 of the firmware or later, you can try our version, which has a few tweaks featured in the photos below.

Note that these are early days still, you’ll need to know your way around a Terminal, but I expect a more polished installer isn’t far off. Check out their wiki for more information.

N.B. The current release does NOT yet run on Synology boxes, which is apparently a limitation of the bundled Python.

Our hats are off to Baa and roidy, what they’ve accomplished is incredibly impressive!

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