Unofficial Apple TV Development Kit


Whether you like Apple TV or not, last100 (via AwkwardTV) reports it’s relatively easy now to create plug-in applications with the unofficial AppleTV software development kit (SDK). In a closed ecosystem like AppleTV, having a hacker’s SDK is probably crucial to acceptance and proliferation among the geek community.

What will be interesting to me is how the Apple development environment ends up comparing to deliberately-open TV environments. For example, the Open Cable Application Platform (OCAP) is designed to make it easy for third parties to create cable set-top applications. Motorola (my employer), among others, has introduced an OCAP SDK that will be packaged alongside a Motorola set-top for anyone who wants to build apps for cable TV hardware. Mind you, we’re probably talking about development shops as opposed to individuals, but I do wonder how innovation will play out differently in an open environment versus a proprietary one. And yes, I do recognize the irony in considering cable TV an open environment.

2 thoughts on “Unofficial Apple TV Development Kit”

  1. Mari,

    Sorry, but if anything I view the “hacker supported” efforts on Apple TV as far more “open” than “OCAP”.

    If the fabulous stories about getting cable cards to work on PCs are any indication, there will be little to no support from the open software community for OCAP. And anybody who tries to develop something will be unsuccessful. Without heavy support from Motorola an OCAP development will be impossible. Which means that the number of independent applications will be minimal to non-existent. Yes, there will be some example games, and yes maybe a couple of trial front ends from Myrio and others, but if your cable company doesn’t distribute it, it ain’t gonna work would be my assumption.

    Apple TV stuff will be far more independent. Who knows what will be developed? And with an enthusiast community behind it something really unexpected could come out. Of course Apple could disable all of this if they feel like it. Unsure whether they will or not. They shouldn’t but who can tell?

    Similar open support from Tivo didn’t really result in that much, but this time its Apple we’re talking about, so I expect the results to be different. Of course who can predict?

  2. Glenn- I was really just looking to stir up a little debate. Thanks for obliging. :)

    You’re right in that OCAP still only makes things truly open if a cable operator decides to distribute an app on a large scale. But, hopefully the combination of OCAP and the competitive threat of retail CE devices like Apple TV will push operators to go a little further with innovation a little faster.

    And for the record, you won’t need heavy support from Motorola for OCAP app development. The whole point of the SDK is that small shops can take it and go. It simulates the headend environment so you don’t have to have a cable headend (or rent time in a Motorola lab) to test your product. Of course Motorola would probably love to stay involved in the incubation process (I’m speculating here), but it’s not necessary or required.

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