Apple TV 4: Using the Siri Remote

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Switching Apps with the Siri Remote

Previous Apple TV models offered some support for basic multitasking. Both the second and third generation Apple TV’s were capable of playing music while users browsed content in different channels. tvOS brings a whole new level of multitasking with an App Switcher borrowed from iOS. Simply tap the Home button twice and thumbnail previews of currently open apps will appear. You can switch between apps using the trackpad. Click the trackpad to return to the selected app. Sliding your finger upwards on the trackpad will close an app.

It’s not necessary to close apps, as tvOS will manage resources for you. It may prove necessary to close an app that’s not working properly.

You can also re-open apps from the home screen. The App Switcher simply provides an alternate user interface for switching between apps. If your home screen icons are arranged efficiently, it may be easier to just use the home screen. It’s important to be aware of the App Switcher, as it provides a way to close malfunctioning apps.

Using the Siri Remote During Video Playback

The Siri remote only has a few buttons. Their functionality is “overloaded”, meaning that they operate different functions depending on context. During video playback, the trackpad acts as a scrub control. Moving a finger left or right on the trackpad will scrub backward or forward through the video. When you have found the right place, you can either click the trackpad or press the Play/Pause button to resume playback. I prefer the latter, as there is less risk of accidentally moving the playback position.

Holding your finger on the trackpad will display the video playback progress bar. This is useful if you want to see how much time is left in a TV show or movie. The progress bar will disappear shortly after removing your finger from the trackpad.

Placing your thumb to the left or right of the trackpad center will display a 10 second icon. Clicking the trackpad while the 10 second icon is displayed will move the video position forward or backward in increments of 10 seconds. Make sure not to place your thumb close to the edge, as it will be more difficult to click the trackpad.

Swiping your thumb down on the trackpad displays a top-aligned panel with information and settings for the video. Information presented on the panel varies depending on the video, and can include Info (program summary), Subtitles and Audio. Move the trackpad to toggle between settings and select options. Click the trackpad to set an option. You can close the panel by swiping up on the trackpad when the top row of options is selected. The panel can also be dismissed by pressing the menu button.

The Play/Pause button functions as one would expect. It toggles pausing and resuming video playback. The Siri, Home and volume buttons all offer the standard functionality. The Menu button will return to the previous screen. Holding the Menu button down will display the home screen. You can also display the home screen by pressing the Home button once.

Using the Siri Remote During Music Playback

Apple TV 4 ships with a stock Music app which can play Apple Music and iTunes purchases. Use the trackpad to launch the Music app from the home screen. The trackpad can be used to find and play songs, artists or albums. Clicking the trackpad will drill down on an item until you are at the final selection, usually a track. You can play an item, like an album, directly by pressing the play/pause button. (continue…)

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