Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Play HD MKV 720p Smoothly on iPhone and iPad (iOS) Natively Using XBMC

Playing high quality video on your iPhone/iPad like MKVs in 720p format has never been possible using standard App Store apps. This is because Apple have not allowed App Store apps to access hardware acceleration on their devices unless the video being played is in an MP4 format. This is despite the fact that most MKV files these days simply contain muxed MP4 files. Apps with decent performance like AVPlayer can only produce a slideshow with desynced audio, something I've written about in a previous article.

However, the fact remains that high quality videos are most commonly shared through the internet in the MKV format, especially high definition video. However, a solution has come through Jailbreaking the iPhone/iPad, which allows video playing applications like XBMC to access hardware acceleration. XBMC on the iPhone/iPad plays high bit-rate MKVs in 720p perfectly smoothly. Not only this, but there is an elegant solution to load files onto the iPhone/iPad through iTunes which does NOT require the fiddly operation of OpenSSH.

Video is of an iPad 1 running 720p MKV files on both AVPlayerHD and XBMC.

Jailbreak is required for this hack, here is a a way of searching for the latest guide to Jailbreaking.

Guide on how to install XBMC on an iPhone/iPad:

1. Enter the Cydia app.

2. Go to Manage -> Sources -> Edit -> Add (Sources -> Edit -> Add on iPad)

3. Type in "" (Without the quotation marks)

4. Tap on the teamXBMC source.

5. Tap on the XBMC-iOS icon.

6. Tap install, then confirm.

A full guide is listed here:

How to load files into XBMC through iTunes:

1) Install a video playing app from the App Store that allows files to be added through iTunes, for example, AVPlayerHD. This program is great because it gives the option of loading files through iTunes or through the webserver over WiFi.

A guide to using AVPlayer is available in a previous Shiny Hacks post.

2) Install iFunbox. This program allows you to view the file structure of you iOS device. It works best when iTunes is closed.

3) Once iFunbox is installed, connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer and click on your device on the left.

4) Find the AVPlayerHD and rightclick on the icon, and select 'Copy To PC'. Ctrl+V into a notepad and hold onto this address.

The 'Copy To PC' puts the data folder address into your clipboard.
The location for AVPlayerHD for iPad should be: /var/mobile/Applications/
A7399C49-DA47-4782-A1D6-D7137A11CA9B – however, this location can change amongst different versions of the app.

5) Open XBMC, Videos -> Files -> Add Videos... -> Browse -> Home folder -> Applications -> Find the folder (A7399C49-DA47-4782-A1D6-D7137A11CA9B).

5a) Because the current build of XBMC is mouse driven, the way to scroll down through the folders is by swiping down rather than up.

5b) Alternatively, you can 'Add' the folder location by typing in the /var/mobile/Applications/
A7399C49-DA47-4782-A1D6-D7137A11CA9B/ location.

6) Go to the subfolder Library/Caches/Documents/ folder, which is where your AVPlayerHD videos are kept. Now XBMC will be able to see files that exist within the AVPlayerHD media folder (and also anything added via iTunes). Click video files in here to play them.

7) Add files to your iPhone/iPad by opening your device in iTunes and navigating to the 'App' tab.


Files will only appear in Library/Caches/Documents/ once the media folder has been viewed on AVPlayerHD (a quirk of the app).

Once you use this hack, from your desktop it will also look like there are no files within the app tab of your iPhone/iPad, even though you can add more files. The files are still kept within the Library/Caches/Documents/ folder, and you can manage them using AVPlayerHD.