Jailbreaking an Apple TV 2 Adds Considerable Functionality

It's been several years since Apple updated the Apple TV, and we keep hearing rumors that a new box is imminent. The rumors have been wrong. Some people are getting impatient and are jailbreaking the second-generation Apple TV in order to add functionality they had hoped that Apple would make available. In fact, the second-generation Apple TV is so superior when jailbroken that it's selling for between $150–$200 on eBay — which is more than the $99 price of a new third-generation Apple TV (which can't be jailbroken).

I don't normally advocate jailbreaking, and during the brief time I had a jailbroken iPhone, I found it an inconvenience. But if you have an old second-generation Apple TV that you're not using, I can't see any reason not to jailbreak it. You can still use it as you otherwise would, but you can also use it to run apps and play streaming services not now available on Apple TV. The apps available include Kodi, an entertainment hub formerly known as XMBC that's a free and open-source media player. According to Wikipedia, Kodi "allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts from the internet, and all common digital media files from local and network storage media."

According to posts on MacWorld and LifeHacker, jailbreaking a second-generation Apple TV is quite easy using free software called SeasOnPass. You download the software to your Mac or PC and connect your computer to your Apple TV via USB in order to install the software.

Once jailbroken, you can also use your Apple TV to run the $29.99 aTV Flash (black), which allows you to browse the web, stream HTML5 video, access Last.fm radio stations, and more.

In the meantime, Apple keeps adding channels to the Apple TV lineup, most recently Tennis Channel Everywhere. It's available for free if you already have a cable or satellite subscription, or you can get it for $69.99 per year. Apple TV now has quite a lineup of live sports: ESPN, MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS, ACC, WWE, and UFC.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.