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Apple TV 4 ships with the Siri Remote, but it’s not the only one you can use. This article covers how to control your Apple TV 4 using an iOS device and the Remote app.
The Siri Remote is a remarkable device. With its glass Touch Surface, gyroscope, accelerometer and microphones, it surpasses any TV appliance remote on the market. What happens if you break or misplace your Siri Remote? It costs $79 to replace it. You might not be able to get a replacement right away.
If you own an Apple TV 4, you probably own an iPhone or other iOS device. Fortunately, you can install Apple’s Remote app for iOS. This app turns your iOS device into a remote control for your Apple TV. It also works with the second and third generation models of Apple TV.
Configure the Remote App Even If You Don’t Need It
There’s a catch-22 with the Remote app — you need a working remote to configure it. This means if you break your Siri Remote, you won’t be able to set up the Remote app. Since the Siri Remote is made of glass, it’s quite fragile and can easily break if dropped. It’s best to think ahead and set up the Remote app, even if you don’t need it.
Remote App Limitations
Apple’s Remote app has been around for several years. I used it with my second generation Apple TV 2 whenever the original remote ran out of batteries. Unfortunately, the app isn’t very good and hasn’t improved. This is par for the course with most free Apple apps. Several prominent writers in the tech community have recently pointed out that Apple’s apps are mediocre. Where have they been? Apple has never made great apps. iTunes has been around for over 15 years, and it’s never been excellent. Maps, Mail, Safari, Reminders, Notes, Music, Podcasts, News and virtually every free Apple app is mediocre at best.
The Remote app isn’t even average. Although it gets a 2.5/5 rating in the App Store, you have to take this with a grain of “fanboy” salt. Apple fans are inflating this score. It’s a poor quality app, but if you break your Siri Remote, it may be your only alternative.
The Apple remote app has some serious limitations. For one, it doesn’t work with Siri at all. Even though every iOS device has a microphone, Apple’s Remote app can’t relay your Siri request to Apple TV. Furthermore, there is no Home button (the one with the TV). This means you can’t launch the App Switcher with the Remote app. Using your iOS device as a touch surface is clumsy. There is some latency between one’s touch and the response on Apple TV. It’s easy to overshoot menu items.
The Remote app is also buggy. In the course of writing this article, I have encountered basic features that just don’t work. For all of these reasons, you probably won’t use this app regularly, but it does have a few advantages.
Remote App Advantages
The Remote app works over WiFi instead of Bluetooth. This gives it a lot more range than the Siri Remote. It could prove useful if you are controlling music playback throughout a large home. Apple’s Remote app also offers a nice keyboard control. It’s much easier to enter text using the Remote app, as it pops up the standard iOS keyboard. Although Siri dictation was introduced in iOS 9.2, it doesn’t work well with passwords and other non-dictionary words. You have to spell these out letter by letter. The Remote app’s keyboard is far more useful.
If you have a large iTunes library, the Remote app provides a convenient way to browse your collection. You can navigate albums, artists, songs and videos directly on your iOS device. Anything you play will automatically appear on Apple TV. Of course, Apple TV already has a built-in interface to explore your iTunes library. All of these features are enabled by activating Home Sharing.
Installing and Configuring the Apple Remote App for Apple TV 4
The Apple Remote app is free and available in the App Store. It’s compatible with any iOS device running iOS 7.1 or later. Even an old iPhone 4 can control your new Apple TV 4. It also works with the iPad and iPod touch. (continue…)