TiVo Designates Themselves The Jailbreak Police??

EDIT:  As of 09.26.2012 TiVo has updated their app so that it only complains about jailbreaking if you try to actually use the Stream hardware features.  This was exactly what I suggested to them via support a couple weeks ago, so kudos to TiVo for listening to their users and making quick changes!

I’m a bit of a home theater and audio/video hobbyist.  I used to be a “pro” in that I made my living in the professional video post production industry (as well as the hardware/software industry that supported that world), but have left that existence behind long ago for greener pastures.

I’ve never lost my appreciation for being able to enjoy media in my own home.  I’m not a big fan of going out unless it’s a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’d rather set my home up in the most comfortable and flexible way possible so that I can enjoy movies, TV shows, internet content, or anything else I want, any time I want, from wherever I want.

The internet explosion over the last decade has obviously been instrumental in this, and TiVo was one of the first “smart” devices I ever bought for my home (outside of various computers of course).  It was a truly mind-blowing experience, that first series-1 unit.  Suddenly, I was no longer a slave to TV scheduling, or trying to record stuff on VHS tapes (or even DVDRs – yes, I even have a tabletop DVD recorder) so that I could watch stuff when I actually had time in my life.  I’ve been a raving TiVo fanboy ever since, having turned countless people onto the brilliance that is the TiVo.  Especially back before the word “DVR” was even in the common vocabulary.

Now of course, we have devices like the iPhone and iPad, and TiVo has done a decent job of jumping onto that ship before it sailed completely away.  Their iPad app is pretty damn useful… doesn’t do everything I would want it to, but it’s pretty close.  And in typical TiVo fashion, it’s simple enough to use that even my better half, who is not the techie in the household, has no trouble using it on her own iDevices.

So when I noticed a couple hours ago that there was an update to the TiVo app on my iPad, I thought – cool!  They’re still adding stuff!

I promptly installed the update, launched it, and was greeted with a dialog stating:

“Unauthorized Modifications Detected
This app may not run if unauthorized modifications have been made to iOS.”

It then promptly quit after about 5 seconds.

Can you say – WTF!??!?!?!

You see, like many more advanced users of technology, I like to get the absolute most out of every device that I buy.  Sometimes, that means modifying the device to allow me to do things that either were never intended, or were deliberately prevented from being used for whatever reason.

Most anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock the past few years, knows that this has been absolutely positively declared as legal for the owner of the device to do.  So what the hell is TiVo trying to pull here??

Do they not understand that in the world of home theater technology and DVRs, the most advanced customers generally either build their own HTPCs (Home Theater PC), or use a TiVo?  It’s been my experience that those who use cable-company-issued “DVRs” are the least sophisticated users, and are not ones who will want to push the envelope of what their technology can do.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the notion of not supporting the software on a jailbroken device.  After all, that’s how Skype handles it.  They tell you they only support the app on unmodified iOS devices, and then let you use the software at your own risk.  This is as it should be.  But for TiVo to step in and police its users – especially when it’s exactly the most advanced customers who will use the app in the first place and thus, probably have a jailbroken device – is a huge mistake IMO.

If I have spent $500 to $800 on a device then I am the owner of that device and am free to do whatever I could possibly want to do with it, under the knowledge that doing so may void my warranty or get me in legal trouble if it was something illegal (which again, jailbreaking is not).  If I then want to run a free piece of software on said device, then it is not that software’s place to decide that I am not allowed to run it simply because of said modifications (since we all know that jailbreaking does not in any way interfere with the functionality of the TiVo app).

Jailbreaking is perfectly legal regardless of the fact that some people choose to do illegal things with their newfound functionality.  TiVo’s behavior here, is like saying that because cars that go fast are often used as getaway vehicles in robberies, the new car you bought will restrict itself to the speed limit at all times.  Or that because bullets are often used to cause harm, you should be allowed to purchase any gun you like, but ammunition won’t work in it.

I even contacted TiVo support about this via live chat, and was told by the representative that he believed this was “unintentional”.  Of course that’s absurd, since as a software developer myself I am all too aware that someone had to develop some code to detect that status of the operating system, display the dialog if a jailbreak was detected, and then quit the app.  There is absolutely, positively, no possible way this was an error, mistake, or unintended consequence of some other aspect of the update.

It’s this sort of behavior that makes me not want to use a company’s products.  But the fact is that I do love my TiVos.  They are the nerve center of my household media entertainment system, and by adding several free open source projects (PyTivoX, kmttg, handbrake) to a spare computer I had laying around, I’m able to watch any content, from anywhere, on either of the large screen TVs in the house.  I’m also able to pull content off the TiVos for use on my iPad or iPhone when I’m on the road, or can even simply stream any content from our home network via any device, from anywhere in the world… again, all for free, and the TiVos are an important part of this media ecosystem.

But what do YOU think?  Personally right now… I have a very bad taste in my mouth, especially since there is no easy way for the average user to downgrade an app, once they have updated it.  Good thing I’m not an average user!


23 thoughts on “TiVo Designates Themselves The Jailbreak Police??

  1. I totally agree and this happened to me a day ago! I really enjoyed the TiVo app and totally support paying for apps. I also support jailbreaking, and love to tweak settings.

    Would it be difficult to explain how to rollback to the previous version?. I don’t and haven’t used iTunes from version 1.9 to 2.0 so the iTunes way I have read will not work for me. Maybe I’m screwed..

  2. Apparently there is a way to do it with iTunes, check this out for a possible answer:


    I have not yet found a reasonably easy solution for doing this without iTunes. I read about a Cydia tweak called XCon that is supposed to fool apps with jailbreak detection into thinking the device is not jailbroken, but it did nothing for me.

    Why on earth would TiVo do this… it makes no sense. There is no possible outcome for them other than pissing off a portion of their app userbase.

    People with stock iPads, won’t even know there is any issue and so won’t be any happier than they ever would have been otherwise. It’s only jailbreakers who will know of the issue, and they (we) will be really angry at TiVo for it.

    This is a move that can do NOTHING but earn them ill-will from their users. Really not a smart move.


  3. Oh fantastic! See that’s the thing about trying to lock down apps like this… it will never keep out whoever it’s intended to keep out, and just costs the company some development time (and therefore dollars).



  4. Ridiculous “upgrade”, alienating a large portion of the small loyal userbase they have left. Let’s face it Tivo is not exactly doing well as a company and is left to lawsuits to try and fund their organization. Locking out jailbreak users just costs them customers and will ultimately likely be bypassed by the jailbreak community anyway with apps like xCon. A jailbroken phone can’t have any impact on the usage of their app or recorded shows which could already be streamed/decoded to PC with pyTivo and similar applications.

    • While I generally agree, let’s be clear that there are no lawsuits going on (that I know of anyway…?) and I don’t really see that being part of TiVo’s strategy. I still don’t know why they decided to do what they did, but I read something on another forum that made a lot of sense.

      Since the TiVo app now has the ability to stream content using their new hardware streaming device, it stands to reason that the studios or other copyright holders of the programming that will be streamed, wanted assurances that the material couldn’t be stolen. In which case enforcing some sot of lockout on jailbroken devices, seems like a logical approach. Pointless – yes. But logical for companies not involved in the tech world (I’m talking about the copyright holders, of course).

      Still seems pretty stupid since as I understand it, the new TiVo Stream device does allow for copying of the content to your iDevice for later viewing… but my hunch is that it’s copied in native TiVo format – or something else with DRM attached to it – so that it can’t then be copied or shared with friends, etc.

      If any of the above is true (and I don’t know that it is… but it makes sense) then it would be out of TiVo’s hands as they are simply complying with a requirement for them to be able to release their streaming product. Hell, TiVo themselves probably know that trying to prevent jailbreakers from using their app is a pointless gesture anyway (and maybe they don’t actually care if we bypass the lockout?)… but I doubt the studios or whoever, are quite as bright.



      This does beg another question however… if the TiVo Stream can push content in realtime due to having extra hardware behind it – might it not make sense that content could be pushed without the extra hardware, just SLOWER than realtime? Maybe THAT is the real reason behind the lockout… maybe we’ll soon be able to rip content from the TiVo directly to our iDevices without having to resort to added compression?

      • OMG… just saw this on the XCon development thread.

        From TiVo:

        “These unauthorized modifications to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch often makes permanent changes to the device and even after uninstalling or reversing the modification, the TiVo App may still not provide access which the application needs to operate.”

        What complete and butter BS! How can they say something like that with a straight face and not expect to lose all credibility? I’m convinced at this point that this entire issue is about licensing and rights, and has nothing at all to do with any technical functionality.


  5. WTF? Why, TiVO, why?

    Just ran into this today after upgrade. Is there any way to roll back the app to non-fit-throwing-over-jailbreak version?

    • Not an easy one that I’ve seen… there’s what I posted early in the comments, but it’s not guaranteed to work for everyone by any stretch.


  6. Make no mistake, this wasn’t Apple’s nor TiVo’s idea. It’s a CableCard requirement. The only way the FCC would allow these sorts of apps to stream/transfer content is if they are secure. And a jailbroken device isn’t secure (by definition.)

    I am jailbroken and am optimistic about xCon’s update. It’ll solve this annoying problem…

  7. This is what I was referring to in my earlier post. There are no lawsuits about the jailbreaking aspect of the Tivo IOS app. I was just stating that Tivo as a company has been struggling financially for a long time and alienating a lot of their remaining core userbase is a bad move. This is just one example of the lawsuits they use to keep the company afloat.


  8. FYI everyone, TiVo has updated their app. It now works even on jailbroken hardware, you just can’t use the Stream features.

  9. After seeing this my is going back. I don’t need another company dictating what I can and can not do with my equipment. Apple is bad enough.

    • Let’s not forget, this wasn’t actually TiVo’s doing. They wanted to be able to release a product that streamed content to iDevices, and the only way they could get the legal clearance to do that, was to prevent jailbroken iDevices from accessing streamed content. They listened to us, and have now released an update to their app that only detects a jailbroken iDevice when one attempts to use the streaming features, which one wouldn’t even do unless one also owned TiVo’s Stream hardware (something that to me is kinda pointless since streaming is already so easily available for the TiVo, and for free).

      Not to mention that XCon has already broken the TiVo jailbreak protection anyway so in fact, the entire thing was pointless. But it keeps TiVo in the clear legally, and the rest of us can still do whatever we want with our stuff (provided we accept any consequences of doing so).


  10. Yep I finally broke down and broke my Ipod out of Apple jail (it was a cable that made me do it)

    I had a cable for video out for my Pod Touch 4th and it was great, I gave it to my son’s fiance for Christmas bcs my son got her a Pod Touch 4th…I have Nano 3rd and it did not work with the cable. It started out working with the cable originally bought for my Nano 2nd then after a miraculous Apple Update it no longer “was supported”.

    So I ordered a new cable. Desc said it would work but I knew it was a roll of the dice. Works on Nano 3rd and NOT on Touch 4th :-/ SERIOUSLY! I have to not only buy but own two cables that do the same thing for two devices of the same manufacturer??!! uhah

    So I did it. I only installed the date on my bar and the tv out feature. BOOM! Played my videos just fine EXCEPT TIVO!!!!!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! NO DOWNLOAD OR STREAM!? WHAT THE HECK DOES TIVO CARE WHAT i DID TO AN APPLE PRODUCT.

    So my choice is no stream or stream and no calendar on my bar. Sadly I will have to restore my Pod Touch to original when faced with that even thought there are many other ascetic features of jailbreaking that I wanted to try out.

    • You should be able to run the TiVo app on your jailbroken device now just fine, they fixed this shortly after I posted this issue and raised it to them via support. But you won’t be able to use their “stream” feature unless you own their Stream hardware product. And THEN you wouldn’t be able to stream when jailbroken.

  11. Didn’t realize streaming has stopped until recently.
    After reading your article I looked into iTunes apps folder but all I can see is
    [TV Anywhere 2.1.ipa] which I reverted back to but nothing changed.
    Looks like the changes happened with v2.0 when they added streaming.

    This is utterly stupid because I could simply record any show I want or even stream it (using other equipments) so what’s the point of all this?

    • The point of it is that Tivo has contractual obligations that they have to fulfill in order to have permission to enable streaming of content legally. If one is going to break the law, then naturally these things don’t matter… but since Tivo as a business has to do everything “by the book”, they have to prevent streaming to jailbroken devices since those devices could be modified t store the content locally which is not allowed, contractually speaking.

      But yes you’re right, it is already perfectly possible to rip content from a Tivo unit and store it in standard video formats for easy access by any device, anywhere, any time. I already do this and it works great.


  12. Any luck on a fix ??? I’m a newbie and just encounter the problem with the TiVo app not streaming with my ipad air jailbreak. Any help would be Appreciated.

    • Unfortunately there is no “fix” because this behavior is what TiVo wants to happen, so it is working correctly. The only way around it as far as I know is to use jailbreak tweaks like Xcon or tsProtector, but I have not tried either of them myself.


      • I can confirm first hand that tsProtector works to allow streaming of TiVo content, on a jailbroken (evasi0n) iPhone 4s running iOS 7.0.6.


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