Hack makes new Apple TV run native tvOS browser

By , Nov 6, 2015

Apple TV browser hack image 003

A new hack by Dutch developer jvanakker makes the fourth-generation Apple TV run a native tvOS web browser despite the fact that Apple’s operating system powering the set-top box lacks web browsing functionality.

The most interesting thing about this hack is its use of Apple’s private API based on the UIWebView class, which the company typically provides to iPhone and iPad developers as an officially sanctioned solution for embedding web views inside apps.

This isn’t a full-featured browser per se but rather a proof-of-concept that hints at the Apple TV’s untapped potential. The app lets you scroll through webpages using the Siri Remote’s Touch surface.

Apple TV browser hack image 001

Pressing the Touch surface enables an on-screen cursor for selecting items and following links. To get to the previous page, hit the Menu button on the Siri Remote. The Play/Pause button brings up a field to enter URLs.

It’s peculiar that tvOS includes a private API for UIWebViews given Apple does not allow any form of web content in Apple TV apps via UIWebViews or other means.

The developer behind this project says that owners of the new Apple TV can sideload his web browser via Xcode, using a modified tvOS file to build the project. More information on sideloading Apple TV apps is available in Jeff’s tutorial.

For those interested, the code is available on GitHub.

Source: jvanakker via MacRumors

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  • iPhoneWINS

    its 2015….. no web browser?lol omg

    • Rowan09

      There’s no web browser on the fire tv or Nexus player, you’ll have to download an app.

    • Browsing the web on a TV isn’t a very good user experience which is presumably why Apple didn’t add one. A web browser for the Apple TV has existed for some time though in the form of the AirWeb app on the AppStore for iPhone and iPad.

      • George

        But having to go to a second device to update a 3 digit credit card code is a good user experience?

      • But having to go to a second device to update a 3 digit credit card code is a good user experience?

        Please do elaborate, I’m not quite sure I understand the question (although I’d assume whatever it is you’re referring to is done for security purposes – which might explain the lack of a good user experience).

      • George

        Yeah well I had to re enter my exp security code of my cc but I could not on the device because there is no web browser experience instead you get a message saying to go to a computer. Idk I returned it, maybe next year they won’t rush a release.

  • Ángel Javier Esquivel

    So, maybe iTV 4th gen is Jailbreak-able?

    • Christian Black

      Of course it is. Lots of holes in it!!!

      • Rowan09

        Not really holes since you can side load any app to an IOS or TVOS with Xcode

  • nonchalont

    Will there ever be a workaround to sideload apps for users that can’t download Xcode?

  • Looks like WevTV is back

  • ProllyWild

    This would be great for when staying at hotels that require web based login

  • iBanks

    This will be great once Bluetooth keyboard support comes into play.

  • fernando rivera

    Jeff I am getting a erro even when I sign as developer

  • Diego

    Skype for TVIOS?