Apple TV 4: Using the Remote App

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Open the App Store and tap on the Search tab at the bottom of the screen. Enter “remote” in the search field, and the Remote app should be the first result. Tap on “Get” to download the Remote app. Once it’s installed, tap on “Open” to launch the app.

Install Remote App

Make sure your iOS device is connected to the same WiFi network as your Apple TV. Start up your Apple TV and tap “Add a Device” on the Remote app. Using your Siri Remote, navigate to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Remote App on Apple TV. The Remote App configuration screen is displayed on your TV. You should see your iOS device listed under “pairable” on this screen. Use the Siri Remote to select and click on this device. You will now see a pairing code displayed on your television. Enter this pairing code on the Remote app. Your iOS device should now be paired. As a test, hold down the Menu button on the Remote app. This should take you to the Apple TV main menu. Try moving your finger on the touch surface area of the Remote app. You’ll notice that the control isn’t as smooth or responsive as the Siri remote. I recommend using the Siri Remote, however, the Remote app is a good contingency plan.

When you re-launch the Remote app, you will see the Devices screen with an Apple TV. If you follow the next step and configure Home Sharing, you’ll also see available iTunes Libraries. For basic control of your Apple TV, tap on the Apple TV icon. If you wish to browse an iTunes library, tap on its icon. You can get back to this top-level screen by tapping on the Devices link on the top left of the screen. This doesn’t always work. If not, simply close and restart the app. Come on Apple, what happened to “it just works”?

Using the Remote App

Operating the Remote App is straightforward. You can get help within the app by tapping the “?” icon on the top right of the screen.

Tap Question Mark to Show Remote App Help

The Remote app works much like your Siri Remote, with a few exceptions. There’s no Siri button and you cannot issue Siri requests. It’s also missing a Home button (the TV set button on your Siri Remote). The lack of a Home button means that you can’t launch the App Switcher.

The large area above the virtual buttons serves as a touchpad. Slide your finger over this area to move the focus and tap to select items.

Using Gestures with the Remote App

When a video is playing, you can use the touchpad and virtual buttons to control playback.

Control Video Playback with the Remote App

The Remote App also provides controls for audio playback.

Control Audio Playback with the Remote App

Using the Remote App Keyboard

The keyboard is the Remote App’s most useful feature. It enables text entry using the standard iOS keyboard instead of Apple TV’s clumsy on-screen keyboard. Although tvOS added Siri dictation to tvOS, this can also be problematic. Siri will often confuse ‘p’ and ‘b’ no matter how clearly I speak the letters. Fortunately, the Remote App’s keyboard feature makes it easier to do text entry. It may prove to be even more useful with tvOS apps that require a lot of text entry. For example, using a tvOS email client with the on-screen keyboard or Siri is not ideal. tvOS currently has no email client, however, developers may create these apps in the future.

Using the Remote App’s keyboard is simple. First, launch the Remote App and select your Apple TV. The controller screen will appear. Use the touchpad to navigate to a text entry field on Apple TV. For example, launch the Search app on your Apple TV home screen. In this case, the Remote App will automatically display the iOS keyboard and search field.

Remote App Keyboard

It’s designed to integrate with tvOS seamlessly. If you want to navigate the screen, tap the Hide button on the top left corner of the Remote App. This will display the remote control screen. You can relaunch the keyboard by moving the focus back to the search field using the Remote App’s touchpad.

Configuring Home Sharing with the Remote App

The Remote app is integrated with iTunes Home Sharing. It enables browsing and controlling multiple iTunes libraries directly on an iOS device, while content is played on Apple TV. This may prove to be convenient for some users. For example, if Apple TV is the hub for an extended AirPlay speaker system, you can control music playback using your iPhone or other iOS device. You can be anywhere in your house or yard and still control your Apple TV. The Siri Remote has a limited range and it doesn’t have a display screen, making it unfit for such long-range remote applications.

Configuring Home Sharing is easy, but it has to be done on your iOS device, Apple TV and computer (iTunes). First, tap on Devices on the top left corner of the Remote app’s main control screen. Next, tap on Settings and turn on Home Sharing. Enter your Apple ID and password. Activate Home Sharing on your Apple TV by navigating to Settings > Accounts > Turn On Home Sharing. You will be prompted to use the displayed Apple ID or enter a different one. Finally, enter your password. (continue…)

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2 comments

  1. Very helpful. Thank you.
    FYI when I installed the app (4/25/20) it does have a Siri button and a TV button, and they appear to work 🙂

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