Soon, you can run Apple TV from your iPhone

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Siri Remote menu button
Your tininess and fragility doesn't scare us anymore.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

An upcoming update to the iPhone’s Remote app will let it completely control your Apple TV.

We’re looking forward to this because while we love the Siri Remote that comes with Apple’s latest streaming box, it has a few problems. First, it’s tiny, and we’ve discovered it wedged inside the absolute farthest and darkest corners of our couches far too often. It’s also covered in glass, and while we know that it’s really strong glass, we’re slightly afraid of breaking it because see Point 1: It’s just a little thing.

Third, if the worst happens and we do lose or break our Siri Remote, a replacement costs $79, and then the anxiety starts all over again.

In other words, bring on the update, Apple.

We received the good news from some guys who would know: Eddy Cue (Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services) and Craig Federighi (senior vice president of software engineering). They joined host John Gruber on the latest episode of his podcast, The Talk Show. We recommend you listen to the whole thing, but the following exchange really got our attention:

Cue: We do have something a little bit better coming out in a few months, which is we have a new Remote app so that if you have your iPhone, you can use the keyboard on the iPhone to [enter text instead of using the Siri Remote’s wonky touchpad], and I think that certainly will get a lot more use.

Federighi: And more than that, really; the full Siri to your phone, communicating with your TV. That’s a great upgrade to that app.

Gruber: Well, there’s a Remote app for the iPhone now that you can connect to Apple TV.

Cue: There is. As Craig said, it only does the keyboard. The new Remote app will do all of the capabilities that the existing, new Apple TV remote does, like Siri.

Gruber: Oooooh.

Federighi: And like gestures, for instance. Because obviously the trackpad function of the remote can be done with your phone now, too, with that Remote, so it’s a really full replacement.

The two Apple execs also revealed that the iPhone’s new bag of Apple TV tricks will extend into multiplayer gaming, with one person using the Siri Remote and another using the Remote app on their iPhone.

And despite our excitement about the pressure and responsibility of Siri Remote ownership finally easing up a little, we couldn’t help but notice that this was a surprising amount of openness from the usually secretive Apple. It’s not so much that we expected the company to hold a special event to unveil an app update, but the fact that they’re talking about anything that’s still months off is really something different.

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  • Darren McCoy

    Am I the only person who hates the new remote? I much prefer buttons for moving up and down.

    • RyanTV

      I wouldn’t say I *hate* it, but I certainly don’t love it. Scrolling around definitely takes some practice. I do like the jump 10 sec forward and back feature.

      The thing I like the least about it is that it is SUPER sensitive. You bump the darn thing and POOF – your TV turns on. Or if you are watching something, boom, it has just scrolled backwards. It would be nice if the remote rested after a few mins and you had to start off an interaction with the remote with a double click or something like that.

    • Marcel

      You can use the “old” apple TV remove if you still have one. Or you might be able to use your TV’s remote, which I was amazed to discover is able to control my Apple TV via HDMI-CEC.

  • Roy Hagar

    I only used my Bluetooth keyboard to operate my old ATV, doesn’t work on the new model! Arghhhh! And I hate the new remote. So easy to lose on the couch! And in my experience, Alexa’s voice recognition is really superior to frigging Siri!

  • Dave Morris

    Apple TV 4 slideshows are rubbish! Start one and after 10 pics it starts again from a random pic or just stops????? Very frustrating and embarrassing .

  • herbaled

    Re. “… Apple TV tricks will extend into multiplayer gaming, with one person using the Siri Remote and another using the Remote app on their iPhone.”

    Can two players play with each using an iPhone?

  • herbaled

    I the new Apple TV remote is another example of where Apple has reversed it’s old philosophy of “function over form.” In other words, the remote design has much more to do with “looking” cool than performing “cool.”

    Alas, there was a time when Apple designed/engineered products that could do both.