New hack allows you to run Plex on Apple TV without jailbreaking

By , Jun 5, 2013

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Good news third-gen Apple TV owners! A new hack has surfaced for the popular set-top box that doesn’t require a jailbreak. As most of you know, the ATV3 hasn’t been jailbroken since its release last year, and there’s no word on when or if it will happen.

The hack, referred to as ‘PlexConnect,’ essentially allows you to run Plex media center software on your Apple TV, enabling you to playback various types of content from your local network on your big screen. And all it takes is a single settings change…

Plex, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a media player that consists of both a desktop app and a server. The app allows you to manage and playback your media (videos, photos, music, etc.), and the server will stream it to other devices running the client.

Plex already had clients out for the iPhone, iPad and jailbroken Apple TV 2. And now it seems it can add the ATV 3 and non-jailbroken ATV 2 to the list thanks to the genius of two guys from its devout developer community. From Plex’s blog (via GigaOM):

“Enter PlexConnect. The brainchild of Baa and roidy, 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).”

It’s kind of cool actually that PlexConnect uses Apple’s Trailers app as a portal of sorts to the ATV. Almost like they’re using it against them. You’d think such a workaround would cause there to be lag in video streaming, but there doesn’t appear to be any delay:

Obviously, the hack is still in the early stages. So keep in mind that improvements will be made and new features added over the coming weeks. But if you’re the adventurous type, and you want to give this a go now, you can find the step-by-step instructions here.

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  • SonsoNL

    if this works well im gonna get myself an aTV 3 right now!

    • Kaptivator

      Yup…Ill give it another 2 weeks to see where it goes on ATV3. Im on the fence between the Roku 3 and the ATV3. only leaning towards the Roku because it supports plex. Dont know why they dont have a plex app for ATV3 as they do for iPhone and iPad.

      • Pitchy

        You have way way more options with the Roku than you do with AppleTV. We relegated the ATV3 to our daughter’s room as we are strictly Roku 3 in the main living room. It was sad that the biggest thing to happen was Hulu Plus coming to Apple TV a while back… there’s just nothing new or exciting about it. Apple TV is the device that Apple just seems to almost completely ignore.

      • Kaptivator

        Yeah, after doing a little digging on Roku..I’m just going to pull the trigger on it. After reading many reviews and it supporting plex out of the box…Its a no brainer. This will hold me over until i decide to move the non internet LCD to the bed room and purchase something to replace it in the living room. That way, ill be able to get some usage out of the Roku. Apple needs to step up in this department. Thanks for the insite.

      • Jack Wong

        I think the best part of the ATV is the Airplay.

        Since I have access to all the media on my iOS devices, and of course MBA.

        Anyway, either one of it is way better than the “smart-tv”…

      • Bing Beta

        i went to best buy and the apple employee was selling a ipad to a family and he tried to sell them a apple tv. and he called it a “airplay” and showed them that it can mirror the ipad. he did not show any other features to them. they asked what else can it do? the employee said, thats it.

      • Jack Wong

        Ok… I see your point but what does it mean?

        Does it mean my iPhone is same as your iPhone? No.

        Because we have different way to use it.

        My iPhone can access all the media on my NAS/server, and it can airplay to the TV, this is the most important feature, please tell me if there is another smart tv device that can do the same thing. By the way, I have been doing it since 2010.

        My fahter-in-law use it to watch Youtube but the remote is too small… then I got him an iPad, now he has a 10″ touchscreen-remote.

        What other feature you are expecting from a 99 dollars device? A 99 bucks device that can turn your non-smart TV into a smart TV.

        I had Western Digital TV before Apple TV… horrible experience… they released a new device for Netflix… instead of updating the firmware…

        Airplay is the best feature from this device because it can airplay all the contents from your iOS devices. And your iOS devices can play games, email, web browser, access Netflix, Amazon instant video… what else you are looking for?

      • Bing Beta

        meh just think it could be marketed better

      • Jack Wong

        I see, at least you had a nice sales guy.

      • Pitchy

        Let’s just say if someone was nefarious and did the unthinkable like downloading Bluray rips in MKV format, then you would need to convert them to mp4 and drop them into iTunes. Roku you can either do Plex or copy over to USB drive plug it into the Roku. The MKVs retain their 5.1 and some cases 7.1 surround sound where the converted don’t always handle that so well, even with recommended settings in Handbreak.

        Don’t get me wrong, I totally loved my Apple TV. It’s a great device. But the Roku currently has way more flexibility and options than the Apple TV. The channel list for the Roku is almost overwhelming… where the Apple TV is extremely limited. As a cord cutter, more streaming options is way more valuable than AirPlay as a whole.

      • Jack Wong

        I just want to share my experience.

        I have a nas, I would put it on the NAS, it is on 24/7 and very affordable.

        Then use Aceplayer on my iOS device to access the NAS and airplay to the Apple TV. It works with MKV/RMVB file format.

      • Pitchy

        that’s definitely worth investigating for me. I’ve been very happy with Roku, Plex and the USB Channel… but I also like having access to all of my movies with iTunes digital copies, so the Apple TV does serve somewhat of a purpose. As I said, we don’t do cable or satellite and strictly rely on streaming from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime among others so the Roku eventually won out as the main device. But Aceplayer with MKV support on top of the Plex hack might make the Apple TV far more useful now than it was in the past.

      • Jack Wong

        It is just no way that we can find a prefect solution, I am not saying ATV is the best but according to the iOS experience, I know that we will get update from firmware… unlike Western Digital…(I sold it for like 20bucks)

        The Aceplayer goes free very often, you can camp it and try it first. And there are many apps that can do it also.

  • PainToad

    “Transcoder”…No thanks. Better off with a Raspberry Pi if you can’t get a ATV2. Clever but.

    • unabatedshagie

      You might well be better off with a PI but for people that already have an ATV3 and don’t want to buy an additional box it’s a handy thing to be able to do.

  • rimzan

    i need video tutorial for setup

  • Sigurd Boe

    Finally :D
    Now I cant wait to get home from work!

  • http://www.iphoneil.net/?author=2583 Ronen Mendezitsky

    I tested this. I do see the content through Plex on ATV3, although it won’t actually play the files.

  • TwoSim

    Try the DNS 210.129.145.150 or 111.68.8.179 input into your atv3 network setting, then back and open the Trailers app, you can find some movies and televisions in china.

  • Gorgonphone

    umm isnt it simpler to just use and ATV3 and a jailbroken ipad4 or iPhone 5 with movie box???

    • Pitchy

      if you want to watch your movies in a little box. most things don’t go full screen when playing off the iPhone or iPad. iPad mirroring looks absolutely silly.

  • David Namdr

    hope is gonna be soon :-)

  • djuro

    Works great !!! I’m Happy !!!

  • Pitchy

    one would think that you shouldn’t have to jailbreak your device to do something that should be there by default. Thanks for the heads up on that.

  • Iktaha King

    how can i instal it plz

  • Robert Vu

    You guys can just buy a external hdd, put your movie collection on the hdd, and connect it to an Ouya ($99). Ouya has an XBMC app now, so you get android apps & XBMC. I had an ATV and the experience is better due to the power increase. Never had a Roku, although tempted, so I can’t comment on that. You can also connect a NAS to XBMC.