How to Use Apple's New TV Remote App

Now You Can Take Total Control Of Your Apple TV

The New Apple TV Remote App Is the Best Remote Control Ever
You'll Be Cheering for Joy With the New Apple TV Remote App for iOS. Credit: John Rensten

tvOS 10 will ship soon, meanwhile, you can already use a new Remote app for iOS devices (iPads, iPod touch, iPhones) for Apple TV, one that matches almost every feature of the Siri Remote, including support for Siri.

The new Apple TV Remote app is available now. It is a complete revamp of what we’re used too.

The only limitation that seems to exist is the app is not capable of adjusting the volume of your television.

This may not change by the time the final version of the new Apple TV software ships, because it depends on an Infrared (IR) blaster included in the Siri Remote that you won’t find on other iOS devices. Most televisions and television remote controls use IR and as the volume is a TV feature it won't be controlled in that way -- though it may be possible using iOS.

What does it do?

The Remote app replicates the Siri Remote on an iOS device, dividing the display between trackpad functions and emulation of button-based behaviors -- it even supports Siri.

With the exception of any missing features, each one of the new Remote app’s virtual controls do exactly what you’re used to using your 2015 Siri Remote for. Great: you don’t need to waste any time at all getting to know any new ways of getting things done and can switch between remote control options at any point.

Trackpad

The top part of the screen becomes a touchpad that supports all the navigation gestures you’re used to on the Siri Remote: scroll, move and select with a quick tap.

Press firmly to feel some haptic feedback when you select something.

The Menu

The Remote app also offers a big Menu button at the bottom of the display. Situated below the Menu button you’ll find the Play/Pause controls, a microphone icon that lets you speak with Siri, and the familiar Home icon (which depicts a television).

The keyboard

The new Remote app also offers a unique feature you won’t find on the 2015 Siri Remote, an on-screen keyboard. You navigate this in the same way you use the virtual keyboard in any iOS app.

The keyboard makes it really easy to type search queries when you must, for example, when trying to search for a complex phrase Siri may not easily understand, such as, “The Owls of Ga’Hoole”. It is certainly less cumbersome than entering text manually using the Apple TV’s on-screen keyboard.

Now Playing

Another unique feature is a new Now Playing button that’s situated in the top right corner of the Remote app screen. This useful shortcut lets you easily navigate to whatever music you happen to be playing at any time. Tap it and you’ll see what music you are playing, with cover art and playback controls on the screen. (It’s a little like the Now Playing function of the Music app on an iOS device if you are familiar with that).

What’s missing?

Two key things aren’t included in the new Remote app. We’ve mentioned the app is unable to control the volume of your television, but we haven’t mentioned the other missing feature. This is that while you can use the 2015 Remote app to manage a series of different devices, including Macs and numerous Apple TV units, the new app is only compatible with Apple TV 4 and 3.

 

Apple’s commitment to incrementally improve the software, year-by-year, means your Apple TV will often offer you something new. Not only this, but Apple’s huge developer ecosystem can always be relied upon to introduce new apps designed to extend what the core device can do.

Other improvements in the next iteration Apple TV software include Single Sign-On, Siri search for YouTube, smarter Siri search, Dark Mode and much more (you can read about all of these here).

But perhaps the most significant addition is Notifications support -- this means that when you are asked to enter text anywhere on your Apple TV, you will receive a Notification on your iPhone letting you know to use the keyboard there.

That's very smart.