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Use the Apple Remote App
I prefer the user experience of a small, simple remote. That said, entering text can be a chore. There are many options for controlling Apple TV. With the Apple Remote app, one can operate an Apple TV with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The Remote app will work anywhere on the WiFi network and offers a pop-up keyboard for text entry. This may appeal to many users. I prefer the simple remote. Interacting with Apple TV doesn’t involve a lot of text input. In fact, I’m glad that it now has so many built-in channels. I’m not a fan of AirPlay. It works well, but I’m too lazy to pick my iPad or iPhone off the coffee table and fiddle with it. It’s hard to beat the simplicity and elegance of the Apple Remote.
Updates to the Apple Remote app enable direct browsing of iTunes in the Cloud media. Users can now browse their iTunes purchases on an iOS device and simply tap to play them on Apple TV. It even works with iTunes Radio! Since the Remote app doesn’t need a line of sight to your Apple TV and displays your library on the device, it is a great way to control your music from anywhere in your home — even outside. As long as you are on the same WiFi network as your Apple TV, the Remote app will work. If your Apple Remote app cannot display your iTunes library or control iTunes Radio, make sure to update it.
If you use the Apple Remote app frequently, I recommend setting Auto-Lock to Never. This will make it much easier to use the Remote App. Instead of unlocking your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you can just pick up your device and use the remote. You may want to turn brightness down all the way to preserve battery life. I only see a 10% decrease in battery life over 4-5 hours of use. You can set Auto-Lock to Never by tapping Settings > General > Auto-Lock. Brightness can be easily adjusted by swiping up from the bottom of any screen to access Control Center. Remember to set Auto-Lock back to your preferred setting when you are finished using the Remote app.
Mount Your Apple TV
Apple TV is the size of a hockey puck, but you need to put it somewhere. If you want the device out of the way, there are many options for mounting it. One can purchase an Apple TV mount, which attaches the device to the back of a flat screen TV. It’s also possible to use heavy-duty velcro to attach the device anywhere. If you use velcro, make sure you use enough and that it is attached firmly.
After mounting your Apple TV, you might experience a problem with the remote. Apple TV needs to be in the line-of-sight to use the included remote. If this doesn’t work, you can use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch along with the Apple Remote app to control your Apple TV. The Remote app communicates to Apple TV over the network, so it will work no matter where you put your Apple TV. If your Apple TV is tucked behind your flat screen TV it may also impair WiFi reception.
Pair and Unpair Apple TV Remote
If you use your Apple Remote for your Mac or have many Apple TVs in your household, it may be necessary to pair and unpair the remote. Fortunately, this can be done quickly using the remote itself.
Pairing means that the remote will only work with a specific Apple TV or Apple device, such as a Macintosh. If you unpair a remote, it will still work with Apple TV, as long as no other remote is paired with that Apple TV. If you only have one Apple TV and don’t have a Mac, pairing and unpairing make no difference. If you can’t operate your Apple TV with your preferred remote and you see three blinking lights in succession on Apple TV, you will need to unpair the remote. For example, if you had a remote paired with Apple TV and lost it, you need to unpair it with a new remote for it to work.
Confused? Think of it this way — pairing binds a remote to your Apple TV. Only that remote can operate Apple TV. When a remote is paired with Apple TV, no other remote will work. The only operation another remote can do is to unpair, which is necessary in case you lose the paired remote.
To pair the remote, simply hold the menu button and right button for 6 seconds, until you see the pair remote icon on the top-left of the screen. To unpair the remote, hold the menu button and left button for 6 seconds. You will see an unpair remote icon on the top left of the screen.
Use Any Remote
Apple TV can learn to use any remote. This is great if you lose or break your Apple Remote, or simply prefer a different remote. Many people have universal remotes these days. If your universal remote doesn’t support Apple TV out-of-the-box, Apple TV can learn to use almost any remote.
Teaching Apple TV how to use any remote is easy. First, go to Settings > General > Remotes. Next, select Learn Remote. Find a remote that isn’t being used by anything else, or at least has some buttons that aren’t used. Select Start on your Apple TV. You’ll see six icons on the screen, representing Apple TV’s remote functions. The “Up” button will appear highlighted. Hold the button on your remote that will function as the “Up” button until the blue progress bar fills in. Repeat this for all of the other buttons. Your remote will now work with Apple TV. You can set specific buttons for rewind, next chapter, fast-forward and other functions, although this isn’t necessary. These functions are all accessible with the six basic buttons. You can set these other buttons by going to Settings > General > Remotes and selecting the remote you just added. (continue…)