Thinking differently: How to fix Siri remote?

Cupertino, January 16, 2022

The perfect Apple TV remote doesn't exist yet. Sure, things got better with the last generation, when a thin touchpad was replaced by what looks like an iPod click wheel. But it is not really innovative. Why settle for solving existing problems when you can think outside the box? Samsung recently released a new Eco Remote, a neat remote with a solar panel on the back that eliminates the need for AAA batteries. The shape is also quite understated - it almost looks like something Apple might release, if we ignore the incongruous logos. Of course it's smart to get rid of batteries, but what Apple should especially draw inspiration from is the courage to add a few extra buttons. I know Apple is allergic to buttons, and sometimes it makes sense - we all have at least one dusty plastic remote with way too many buttons that we never use. But sometimes four well-chosen extra buttons can add tremendous value to a piece of plastic. With these extra buttons, Apple could turn the Siri Remote into the Home Remote. Let the extra buttons be shortcuts for controlling scenes, automations, and accessories in HomeKit. Maybe the buttons could be programmed to do other things as well? They could activate that dinner playlist in Apple Music played on a nearby HomePod. They can start an automation in Shortcuts or ping your iPhone. It would still primarily be an Apple TV remote, but with the ability to control an entire Apple home. The simple pleasure of a button on the wall One problem with the smart-home concept is the way controls are so often hidden in apps on your phone. Turning on a smart bulb takes far too many taps on a screen to solve a task accomplished in a 'dumb house' by pressing a button on the wall. That button is always in the same place and always works, immediately. You don't have to search for your phone; no waiting for a signal or for an app to start up. In reality, the average smart home would be much better off with more physical controls. And Apple can make that happen by releasing an Apple TV remote with a few more buttons. Why specifically the Apple TV remote? It's perfect for HomeKit shortcuts. It never leaves the house and can usually be found in the same or two places: the couch, the coffee table, maybe the piece of furniture on which the TV sits. By focusing our upgrade efforts on this remote, we can transfer our HomeKit controls to a convenient and simple device that's always within reach. Hi Siri, I'm Home In terms of branding - no small consideration for Apple - it makes little sense to call the accessory the Siri Remote anyway. How often is Siri actually used on Apple TV? Siri might stay on our new remote, but we'll emphasize the smart-home element instead. Apple TV is already a hub that runs HomeKit in the background, so the connection isn't far-fetched. There are rumors that Apple will soon be launching a homeOS operating system dedicated to its smart-home ecosystem. But in addition to its new take on software and services for the home environment, Apple also has an opportunity to improve home hardware. Apple, it's time to ditch the Siri Remote and make a Home Remote instead. Different Think is a weekly column in which Macworld writers expose their less common opinions to public scrutiny. This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation (with DeepL) by David Price.

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