iOS FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions for iOS, including iDevices and the Apple TV 2 (black).

Attention.png NOTICE:
The Apple TV3 is not yet jailbroken, so you can't install XBMC on it. We won't know any details about running XBMC on an ATV3 until there is a jailbreak for it. We don't handle jailbreaks, so please don't ask when this will happen.

Contents


1 General FAQ (all devices)

See also: XBMC all platforms FAQ for FAQs that apply to all versions of XBMC.

The following applies to all supported iOS devices, including: Apple TV 2, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

1.1 Installing and updating XBMC for iOS

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1.2 SSH

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  • Secure Shell (SSH) is used to send remote commands to the ATV2. You will need this for many XBMC related tasks detailed on this page. For SSH access you can use putty or Tunnelier on Windows, Terminal.app in Mac OS X, or any standard terminal/shell in Linux.
  • To SSH into an iOS device open your SSH application and type in:
ssh mobile@DEVICE.IP.ADDRESS.HERE
  • For most things you can and should use "mobile" as the user, as shown above. For some tasks, such as upgrading XBMC itself, you will need to replace "mobile" with "root".
  • The default password (for "mobile" or "root") will be alpine

1.3 Is XBMC for iOS different from normal XBMC?

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  • The current stable version of XBMC for iOS is v12.3 Frodo. This is the same code that all of the other platforms (Linux, Mac, Windows) are using.

1.4 How do I find out what version of XBMC am I running?

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  • XBMC main menu > System > Lower submenu > System info. Note the build date.

1.5 Formats and resolutions iOS devices can playback

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  • XBMC on iOS can playback all formats supported by XMBC in standard definition.
  • H.264 (up to High Profile) encoded videos that are not interlaced are supported for high definition (720P and up) using hardware video decoding.
    • The iPad 2 and iPhone 4S (and possibly the ATV3 once jailbroken) are the only exceptions to this and will play some other HD codecs due to the more powerful CPU inside using software video decoding.
  • Videos with 16 reference frames will not playback correctly (using 16 ref frames is out of spec for most codec standards anyways)
  • Videos at 60Hz may not playback correctly for reasons not yet known (possible hardware limitation).

1.6 Accessing media

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  • You'll want to connect to media that's being shared from a computer, HTPC, or NAS device on your local network, especially with the ATV2 since it only has 8 GB of space. iPad and other iDevices can store files locally, and the iPad specifically can also use the Apple Camera Kit to use USB drive and SD cards. Guides for these will be arriving shortly, until then try searching the forums or Youtube.

1.7 Add-ons and skins

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  • XBMC for iOS is a full version of XBMC and will be able to use all non-platform specific add-ons and skins. More feature rich (CPU demanding) skins like AEON MQ 3 might not run smoothly, but most skins should be fine.

1.8 Transferring files like add-ons, skins, and others over

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  • To manually install a skin/add-on/repo "by zip", see this guide. The guide will also give you the basic gist of how to transfer files over using SSH/SFTP.

1.9 Backing up XBMC's settings

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  • The most common way is to copy the userdata folder (via SFTP) (not to be confused with FTP) from the iOS device to another computer:
/private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/ for all of your XBMC data, add-ons, skins, etc, or just
/private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/userdata/ for just the settings files themselves (which takes up less space, but means you would have to re-download add-ons, etc). (Forum:92778).
  • To restore, SFTP the directory back to its original location, then SSH to the ATV2 and run the following command to reset ownership/permissions:
chown -R mobile:mobile /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/
  • A new add-on has been created for easily backing up and restoring XBMC settings on any platform: Add-on:XBMC Backup

1.10 Use USB to transfer files to/from ATV2/iDevices

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  • By installing afc2add you can have full file access of the ATV2 or an iDevice when it's plugged into a computer via USB. Once installed you can access the files by using an application such as iPhoneBrowser or iExplorer (formally iPhone Explorer).
    • For ATV2: To install afc2add you can either do it through the NitoTV menu or SSH into the ATV2 and type in apt-get install us.scw.afctwoadd
    • For iDevices: search for "afc2add" in Cydia.
  • You can use this to transfer logs out of the ATV2/iDevice, place add-on zips, restore backups (remember to repair permissions), or even store a video files on the internal memory.

2 Apple TV 2 (black)

This is the FAQ for the Apple TV 2 (black). For the original Apple TV 1 (silver) see: Apple TV 1 FAQ

2.1 Apple TV 2 specific requirements

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  • To Install XBMC on ATV2 you must have a jailbroken Apple TV 2 running versions 4.1 to 5.3
  • XBMC only works on the second generation Apple TV (ATV2), which is the black version that outputs 720. XBMC does not work on the newer third generation Apple TV (ATV3) that outputs 1080, because there is no jailbreak for the ATV3.

2.2 Jailbreaking

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2.3 Remotes for ATV2

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  • The ATV2 remote works with XBMC and can be customized. See: Joystick.AppleRemote.xml for ATV2 for a custom setting that uses up/down for longer FF/RW jumping.
    • How do I bring up the context menu? - Press and hold MENU
    • How do I bring up the OSD during playback? - Press and hold SELECT
    • Changing the volume - Up and down while in full screen playback.
  • The ATV2 can also learn remotes in its native settings. XBMC will respond to these learned remotes. See here for instructions.
  • Web interface, including add-on interfaces
  • XBMC smartphone and tablet remote apps.
  • Bluetooth keyboards can be used since ATV software v5.2 or with earlier versions using BTstack. See this forum post for more info.
  • Harmony Remotes have experimental support and you can teach the ATV2 to use most standard IR remotes via Settings -> General -> Remotes -> Learn Remote. You can get additional functions by following these instructions.
  • The Apple iOS Remote app for iTunes/ATV

2.4 Resolutions ATV2 can play and output

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  • The ATV2 can playback most videos saved as high as 1080p, but will only output a 720p signal to your TV. To see if you can really benefit with 1080p output, please consult this chart

2.5 USB hard drives and devices

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  • The Apple TV 2 can not operate as a USB host, so hooking an external drive or any other USB device to it will not work. To access media it must be located on the local network, ATV2's limited internal memory, and/or streaming from the internet.

2.6 Sleep/Shutdown

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  • XBMC will disable any sleep timer (if set) in ATV iOS since the sleep timer will cause XBMC to crash. When XBMC quits it will turn the sleep timer back on to whatever it was set at before.
  • The Apple TV 2 does not have a real "sleep" or shutdown function. Even under the native Apple software, the unit is always powered on, and only fakes sleeping. There is no way to sleep or shutdown the Apple TV 2 without physically pulling the power.
  • Given that the ATV2 uses only a few watts of power, the cost of running the unit 24/7 for a whole year is only a few dollars. Leaving it on does not damage the unit.

2.7 Setting time zones on ATV2

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  • iOS 4.3 and higher, offers the ability to set the Time Zone via the Apple TV GUI, under Settings -> General -> Time Zone.

2.8 Native ATV2 software after XBMC installation

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  • XBMC is installed onto the Apple TV internal flashdrive, much like any iOS app, but you will still be able you use your Apple TV software as normal, XBMC will only be an extra option that you can launch from the Apple TV's original menu when you want to utilize the extra features and functions that are available in XBMC compared to the original Apple TV software. So XBMC will not replace the original Apple TV software, it instead complements the existing Apple TV software.

2.9 Software updates from Apple will crash XBMC

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  • When you install XBMC it will install a dependancy with it that will block the updates to Apple's iOS software so nothing else is needed.

2.10 Finding the ATV2 software version

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  • From the Apple TV main menu go to Settings -> General -> About and click Select to toggle between Apple TV software version and iOS build version. Apple TV software is the application running on top of iOS similar to how FrontRow runs on MacOS. It's similar versions are easily confused with the iOS versions. More info on the Apple TV software versions is available here.

2.11 Directly booting into XBMC

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  • THIS WILL NOT WORK WITH THE NEW ATV SOFTWARE 5.0 (aka, iOS 5.1) (This is the version that has the grid of icons)
  • The ATV2 can be set up to directly boot into XBMC when using ATV iOS 4.4.4 or newer. This will disable the ATV2 native menu completely.
  • SSH into the ATV2 and enter the following commands:
  • To enable direct booting:
    apt-get install org.tomcool.xbmc-booter
  • To disable direct booting:
    apt-get remove org.tomcool.xbmc-booter

3 iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

3.1 iDevice requirements

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  • To install XBMC for iOS you must have a jailbroken iDevice running iOS 4.0 through 7.0.6. (4.3 or higher recommended)
  • For hardware: iPad (1,2,3,4), iPad Air, iPad Mini (1,2), iPhone (4, 4S, 5, 5c, 5S), iPod touch (4, 5).

3.2 Touch screen controls

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  • Context menu: Single-finger long tap or two-finger single tap the menu item.
  • Go Back: Two finger swipe left.
  • Zoom into/out of Image: Pinch.
  • Slide out menus: Hold the menu item to bring it up, then swipe right to access the sub content.
  • Future Gotham feature: In nightly builds iDevices can use the multitasking player control bar and lockscreen controls for music.

3.3 Remotes for iDevices

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3.4 Resolutions iDevices can play and output

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  • iDevices can playback most videos as high as 1080p.
  • Retina and widescreen is fully supported on iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and iPod touch 4, 5.
  • Retina GUI is supported for iPad 3, 4 , but video playback is still clamped to 720, pending some issues.
  • Retina GUI support for iPad Air (5th gen) and iPhone 5c and 5S is available in nightly builds.
  • Native video out as of XBMC v12 (Frodo) is now supported for HDMI adapter, VGA adapter, and AirPlay mirroring (to ATV2/3 only for mirroring). See #iOS to TV.

3.5 How to use video output to a TV

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Future.png iOS7 breaks external video output (both AirPlay and cable) for XBMC v12 due to API changes by Apple.

To fix this use a nightly build of the upcoming XBMC v13.

Native video out as of XBMC v12 (Frodo) is now supported for HDMI adapter, VGA adapter, and AirPlay mirroring (to ATV2/3 only for mirroring). Currently limited to 720P outout:

HDMI/VGA adapter (A4 processor or higher) AirPlay mirroring (requires A5 processor or higher)

1. Before opening XBMC, first plug in the video out adapter and connect it to the display

1. Before opening XBMC enable global AirPlay mirroring

On iOS 6: Double-tapping the home button, swiping from left to right to bring up the volume control and AirPlay icon, and selecting your Apple TV from the options.

On iOS 7: Bring up the Control Center by swiping from the bottom of the screen to the top, and then selecting AirPlay, and then select Apple TV from the options.

2. Go to Settings -> Appearance -> Skin and change the skin to something like Confluence (not required, but makes operating XBMC on a TV easier).
3. Go to Settings -> System -> Video output and change it to "Display #2"
4. Now you can use the iDevice screen for directional navigation by swiping. Tap to select things, two finger tap to go back.

Note: AirPlay mirroring only works from an iDevice with an A5 or higher SoC (iPhone 4S, iPad 2/3), and will only stream to the native AirPlay feature of Apple TV 2 and 3 (in other words, it won't work with XBMC's AirPlay server as a target).

3.6 iPad camera connector for USB and SD cards

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  • XBMC for iOS can read videos and files via the iPad Camera Connector Kit though the SD card reader or the USB port adapter (drives must be self powered or hub powered). Files should show up under /var/mnt/mount1/. For troubleshooting tips when using the CCK, see this forum thread.

4 Troubleshooting

Have you tried switching it off then on again?

4.1 Getting more help with XBMC for ATV2/iOS

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4.2 Userdata folder and logs

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See How-to:Submit a proper bug report for bug reporting details, here for instructions on reporting an issue to the forums, and How-to:find and post XBMC.log for iOS for how to extract the debug and other logs.
  • Userdata folder: /var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/userdata/
  • Debug log: /var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC.log
  • Syslog: /var/log/syslog
  • CrashReporter: /var/mobile/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/*.plist

4.3 Errors while installing

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  • Check out this guide for help with SSH/install errors.

4.4 Repair settings

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  • Settings or sources not stored and updates are failing? This can happen when the setting xml files are manipulated outside XBMC. Connect to your iPad/ATV2 as root using an ssh client and repair file permissions.
  • Run the following SSH command on the iPad/ATV2:
chown -R mobile:mobile /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/

4.5 Reset ATV2 without unplugging

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  • Hold "menu" and "down" buttons for 5 sec.

4.6 Stuck on a bad skin

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  • If you changed skins and now can't navigate back to change it back, delete /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/userdata/guisettings.xml

4.7 No sound with DTS or AC3

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  • It's probably not the XBMC software on your ATV2, but has to do with your receiver. Try this solution.

4.8 AC3 files stutter or have static noise

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  • XBMC v12 Frodo currently has a bug that prevents it from using AC3 without "passthrough" enabled. Meaning you can't use AC3 unless your TV or sound receiver directly supports it, for the time being.
  • AC3 Audio can stutter and pause video.
  • Audio output could also be the culprit, go to Apple TV > Settings > Audio & Video > Audio Output and set it to "16 bit".

4.9 Not enough space/memory

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  • Have you run out of space on your ATV2? Check with (via SSH) the df -k command. If any /dev/disk* filesystems are at 100%, use du -h / to see what's taking up space. or to show which files are, for example, bigger then 9 Mb do find / -size +9000b
  • First places to check are:
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/addons/packages <- As of XBMC v12, this folder should be limited to 200 MB by default, and shouldn't need to be manually cleaned out.
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/Caches/AppleTV/Video/LocalAndRental
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/Caches/AppleTV/Video/Other
    • /private/var/cache/apt/archives/
  • See also #Thumbnails for saving space with smaller thumbs or moving them to a network location.

4.10 Thumbnails taking up too much space or are causing long loading times

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See: HOW-TO:Reduce XBMC disk space

4.11 Audio issues and/or slow video playback

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  • Make sure that your audio settings are correct. Wrong audio settings will have severely negative effects on video playback.
  • Check to see if your speaker setup is really correct
  • If passthrough: make sure you only enable the audio codecs your receiver supports.
  • Select the correct audio output device for analog and passthrough.
  • Gapless playback for music isn't working.
  • FIXED in future v13 AAC to AC3 transcoding is broken for the time being, which means no multichannel support for AAC.
  • FIXED in future v13 Music output lacks "audiophile" support (output is resampled to the setting from audio midi setup for all tracks)
  • FIXED in future v13 All sorts of hickups during music track transitions (gets worse with activated crossfade).
  • Not actually an issue with XBMC: Apple does not provide support for HD-audio passthrough in their audio API, CoreAudio.

4.12 Performance: video buffering, stuttering, choppiness

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General
  • Switch to a different network protocol (especially if you are using SMB), i.e. NFS, FTP, WebDAV, etc.
  • Try sharing the media on another device to rule out a device-specific (or network) issue.
  • Turn off thumbnail generation (does not affect thumbnails from a library scan), XBMC -> Settings -> Video -> File lists -> and deselect 'Extract thumbnails and video information'.
  • Disable playback sync completely, XBMC -> Settings -> Video -> Playback -> turn off "Sync playback to display"
  • If you are having buffering issues using a Time Capsule on WiFi, try this.
  • Try switching on dirty regions to speed-up the GUI using advancedsettings.xml GUI only. Won't help for video playback.
    • See also #Thumbnails for speeding up the GUI when it's loading large/lots of thumbnails.
  • Make sure the video isn't interlaced.
  • If the video is in HD, make sure it is using the h.264 codec (up to High Profile. Hi10P will not work, mediainfo can help).
ATV2
  • Use a wired network connection (if possible, even if just for testing to rule out wireless network issues).
  • Delete cache files in the following dir: /private/var/mobile/Library/Caches/AppleTV/Video/LocalAndRental (leave .plist files)
  • Configure Audio Output in XBMC -> Settings -> System -> Audio output -> Select "Optical/Coax", even if you are using HDMI (it will still work).
  • Set to 16-bit audio, Apple TV > Settings > Audio & Video > Audio Output and set it to "16 bit".
  • Try using an ATV iOS version before 4.4.4 to minimize system resource consumption.
  • Reboot to clear out the ATV2's RAM. Sometimes other "apps" like Netflix don't always release RAM when they are done.
iDevice
  • iDevices that use an A7 chip (64-bit) won't currently use hardware video decoding. Software video decoding should be enough to play back most videos, but will drain the battery faster.

4.13 Other crash reasons/fixes

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General
  • Check your logs for clues.
  • Have you tried to repair permissions on XBMC's settings?
  • Are you using a feature rich skin? Check to see if you're running out of memory.
  • Does your xbmc.log have any SQL errors ("database disk image is malformed")? Remove your databases and reboot: (via SSH) rm -f /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/userdata/Database/*db . Warning: This will reset your video and music libraries.
  • Try turning off thumbnail generation (does not affect thumbnails from a library scan), XBMC > Settings > Video > File and deselect 'generate thumbnails'.
  • Are you using AFP file sharing? If you're seeing LIBAFPCLIENT errors in your logs you may want to switch to a different protocol. AFP is generally stable but development is orphaned at the moment.
  • If your Windows 7 SMB share stops streaming, try this fix
ATV2
  • Do you have Firecore Media Player installed? Try removing it and testing again.
  • Recent versions of Plex on ATV2 can cause XBMC to crash. [1]
  • Is an Apple software update crashing XBMC? Try blocking them.
  • Be sure to disable the native ATV2 AirPlay server in the ATV2's settings. Using the native AirPlay server will crash XBMC, so use XBMC's built in AirPlay server instead. See here.
iDevice
  • Unrestricted Premium and Display Out can cause XBMC to crash. Other video-out jailbreak tweaks, or tweaks that tap into hardware decoding, might also cause issues.
  • iOS 7 on iDevices currently crash when using DVD menus in XBMC.
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