Apple has launched the much-awaited Apple TV Remote app for the iOS, which transforms an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch into a Siri Remote for the fourth-generation Apple TV.
When Apple introduced the new Apple TV last year, the company revealed that it was working on a way to connect the Apple TV's Siri feature with the iPhone, which will transform the smartphone into a Siri Remote.
Apple SVP Eddy Cue then said that the company was hoping to release the app in the first half of this year. The launch of the Apple TV Remote app may be two months late, but Apple TV users will certainly be welcoming it to widen the set-top box's capabilities.
The new Apple TV Remote app can now be downloaded for free, with users only required to have their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch powered by iOS 9.3.2 or later. According to the app's description, it provides users with "the best of the Siri Remote," which includes voice search initiated through the microphone of the iOS device.
The Siri functionality, though, is only available for the latest version of the Apple TV. The Apple TV Remote app, however, will also work with the older versions of Apple's set-top box, with third-generation Apple TVs required to be on software version 7.2.1 and second-generation Apple TVs required to be on software version 6.2.1.
Through the Apple TV Remote app, users can navigate the Apple TV through touch gestures and use the iOS device's keyboard to enter text. Controls will also be displayed on the app for currently playing movies, TV programs or music, with game controls able to be shown by activating Game Mode.
The Apple TV Remote app is not a simple upgrade to the iTunes Remote app for iOS devices, which can also be used to control the Apple TV. The app is a completely new one, replicating almost all the functions of the Siri Remote.
The key function that the Apple TV Remote app is missing compared with the Siri Remote is volume control. While the Siri Remote has dedicated buttons for volume and an infrared blaster to allow it to function with older devices, the lack of infrared capabilities of iOS devices prevents it from controlling the volume of TVs, receivers and soundbars.
It is hard to imagine that anybody would be using the app on an iPad, as that would make an unwieldy remote. However, the Apple TV Remote app is perfect for the iPhone, which is great for users invested in Apple's ecosystem.