For all Apple TV users who wish to extend and enhance their functions, the customization procedure is now decidedly practical and painless. You don't need to be a programmer or work for several hours: all you need to do is download the new open source ATV USB Creator program and follow the on-screen instructions to create a memory stick, at least 512 MB, to be inserted into Apple TV.
The ATV USB Creator program allows you to create a memory stick compatible with the format required by Apple TV for booting from USB, currently only available for Mac OS X: in the future it will also be made available for Windows and Linux. Once the personalized key has been created, you must turn off Apple TV, insert the key and turn on Apple TV again. This will install the two alternative media centers Boxee and XBMC without eliminating or modifying the original management system of Apple TV, which remains at our disposal together with the two new media centers just installed. For detailed instructions of all the steps, please refer to the official page of the ATV USB Creator project and also to that of the XBCM project.
Macity has already talked about XBMC in this article. Here we remind you that it is an appreciated and widespread media center available for different platforms and now ready to also arrive on Apple TV. Among the main features we mention the ability to play disparate audio and video formats, allows you to customize the appearance, finally able to check for updates and update automatically. XBMC for Mac and Apple TV works smoothly with our iTunes archives for music and iPhoto for images.
Boxee is also a free media center, currently in the alpha phase, which combines the functions of a multimedia center with those of social networking. With Boxee we can preview the videos available on the network and view unique lists and archives that also include films, music, images and anything else stored on the hard disk or on a hard disk connected to the local network. Thanks to social networking it is possible to indicate to friends and acquaintances a song or a movie that particularly impressed us. It is possible to observe Boxee in action in this web movie. We remind you that Boxee in alpha phase which can be accessed only by registering on the project website or by invitation.