19 October 2015
Choose Video (view on original site)
The new Apple TV includes several choices of screensaver, including Aerial, an exclusive set of slow-moving HD video of various landmarks and places in the world. What’s most interesting is that the displayed video actually changes over time, as the Apple TV downloads new videos periodically from an online location.
The URL for this data source has now been found in the community. What I’ve done with this page is parse that data and make the list (above) of all the videos in the current Apple TV screensaver rotation. You can watch them all above too, streaming directly from Apple’s servers. Just click one one of the links and the movie will start playing.
tvOS currently picks at random1 from this list — you aren’t normally able to choose what video to play. All this page does is grab that data, parse it and display it as a list.
The current set of videos in the list include imagery from China, San Francisco, Hawaii, New York City and London. Interestingly, there are multiple variants for each location as well as separate day and night shots. It seems like the Apple TV will dynamically show a contextually-relevant video for the user’s time of day. It’s also interesting just how many different sequences Apple has for each same location and time.
If Apple adds new videos, this page will automatically update. That being said, this does use an undocumented feed and Apple could easily change the code paths to stop hacks like this one. For now, though, you can enjoy all of the Apple TV aerial screensaver in their high-resolution glory.
1 This isn’t completely true. It’s mostly random, but the JSON source has some sort of categorisation which must have some role to play in which video is selected at a particular instant. To me, it’s inscrutable. If anyone can help decode this, let me know.