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The Apple TV is finally getting the remote it deserves

Published Sep 11th, 2017 8:00PM EDT
Apple TV Siri Remote

The information stemming from the iOS 11 GM leak continues to roll in. Earlier this afternoon, developer Guilherme Rambo found evidence that the next iteration of the Siri remote for the Apple TV may include haptic feedback. The data strings unearthed by Rambo include references to “actuator calibration” and “vibe waveforms.”

If true, this would be a welcome improvement over the current Siri remote. In fact, the current Siri remote is so bad that any changes to it would likely be a huge step in the right direction. Though most products coming out of Apple are incredibly well designed, the current Siri remote seems to have been designed by someone who doesn’t actually watch TV. As I’ve mentioned before, the Siri remote is essentially an embarassing case study in backwards non-functional design.

Making an iPhone extremely thin might make for a good design, but the same doesn’t apply for a TV remote. A good TV remote needs a little bit of heft and it needs to be ergonomically friendly. Say what you will about Comcast, but their standard X1 remote is extremely well designed to fit an actual human’s hand. Additionally, given that a lot of TV is watched on couches, the Apple TV remote is frustratingly prone to getting misplaced or even lost. What’s more, there’s no backlighting on the Apple TV remote, making it downright frustrating to use in the dark. Compounding the problem is that its backwards industrial design all but makes it impossible, upon picking it up, to immediately discern which part of the remote is the top and which is the bottom simply by picking it up.

The first Twitter response to Rambo’s tweet above is right on the money.

With word that the Apple TV‘s Siri remote might incorporate haptic feedback, one can only hope that a more user-friendly form factor is also not too far off.

On a related note, we’ve seen a number of Apple TV related rumors surface up over the past 48 hours. Confirming speculative reports from earlier in the year, the iOS 11 GM indicates that the fifth-gen Apple TV will offer support for 4K streaming and HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It’s also worth noting that the upcoming Apple TV will be incredibly powerful, as noted by developer Steve Troughton-Smith earlier today.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.