The perfect Apple TV remote doesn’t yet exist. Sure, it got better with the
last generation, when a flimsy touchpad was replaced by what looks like an iPod click wheel. But it’s not exactly innovative.
Why settle for fixing existing problems, when you can think outside the box?
Samsung recently released a new
Eco Remote, a neat remote control with a solar panel on the back that eliminates the need for AAA batteries. The shape is also quite restrained – it almost looks like something Apple might release, if we disregard the incongruous logos.
Sure, it’s smart to do away with batteries, but above all what Apple should take inspiration from here is daring to add a few extra buttons. I know that Apple is allergic to buttons, and sometimes that makes sense – we all own at least one dusty plastic remote with far too many buttons that we never use. But sometimes four well-chosen extra buttons can add enormous value to a little piece of plastic.
With these extra buttons, Apple could turn the Siri Remote into the Home Remote. Let the extra buttons be hotkeys for controlling scenes, automations and accessories in HomeKit.
Maybe the buttons could be programmed to do other things too? They could trigger that dinner playlist in Apple Music, played on a nearby HomePod. They could start an automation in Shortcuts, or ping your iPhone.
It would still be primarily a remote for the Apple TV, but with the ability to control an entire Apple home.
The simple joy of a button on the wall
One problem with the smart-home concept is the way that controls are so often hidden away in apps on your phone. Turning on a smart light requires far too many taps on a screen to solve a task that in a ‘dumb home’ is accomplished by pressing a button on the wall.
That button is always in the same place, and it always works, instantly. There’s no searching for your phone; no waiting for a signal, or for an app to fire up.
In reality, the average smart home would be far better off with more physical controls. And Apple can make that happen by releasing an Apple TV remote control with a few more buttons.
Why specifically the Apple TV’s remote? It’s perfect for HomeKit shortcuts. It never leaves the home, and is usually found in the same one or two places: the sofa, the coffee table, maybe the unit that the TV sits on. By focusing our upgrading efforts on this remote, we can transplant our HomeKit controls to a convenient and simple device that’s always close at hand.
Hi Siri, I’m Home
In terms of branding – no small consideration for Apple – it makes little sense in any case to call the accessory the Siri Remote. How often is Siri actually used on Apple TV?
Siri may well remain on our new remote, but we’ll instead emphasise the smart-home element. Apple TV is already a hub that runs HomeKit in the background, so the connection isn’t far-fetched.
There have been rumours that Apple will soon launch a
homeOS operating system dedicated to its smart-home ecosystem. But alongside its new take on software and services for the home environment, Apple has a chance to make home hardware better too.
Apple, it’s time to scrap the Siri Remote and make a Home Remote instead.
Different Think is a weekly column in which Macworld writers expose their less mainstream opinions to public scrutiny. This article originally appeared on
Macworld Sweden. Translation (using
DeepL) by David Price.