The latest Apple TV isn't even in people's hands and its already close to being jailbroken, according to members of a hacker group that has a track record of successfully freeing iDevices from the artificial shackles of Steve Jobs & Co.
According to a post on Monday on the iPhone Dev Team Blog, members were able to crack the customized iOS firmware shortly after its release on Monday on an Apple download site. The release came the same day Apple began shipping the $99 device.
The download, which allows users to restore Apple TVs to their original factory settings, confirms rumors that Jobs's “hobby” does in fact run iOS. More importantly, it gave iPhone Dev Team members an opportunity to run it through an in-development iOS 4.1 hacking tool they developed called SHAtter. They quickly extracted the cryptographic key used to lock down the Apple TV firmware, which is the first step in finding a reliable jailbreak.
It's unclear exactly what could be done with a jailbroken Apple TV. Compared with other iDevices, it has a paltry amount of storage space. And, of course, there's still the prospect that Apple will make last-minute changes to Apple TVs that patch the vulnerability SHatter exploits.
But as we've reckoned before, the mini USB port included with the Apple TV opens the door to running unauthorized code loaded on a patchstick. That in turn might allow users to run iPhone and iPad apps or add amenities such as SSH access, a USB-supported hard drive or even the ability to stream shows from Hulu.
All of that is in the future. With Monday's commencement of Apple TV shipments, it won't take long for us to find out. ®