Tuesday, December 10, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Third-Party Apple TV Remote

Chaim Gartenberg (tweet):

The remote that comes bundled with the Apple TV is infamous for its difficult-to-use design and controversial touchpad for navigation. It’s so bad, in fact, that Swiss TV and internet provider Salt — which provides Apple TVs as the set-top boxes for its internet TV service — has developed a more traditional remote to replace Apple’s model, via MacRumors.

The optional remote (which costs 19.95 francs, or roughly $20.16) was reportedly developed in collaboration with Apple due to complaints from users who were confused by Apple’s touchpad controls. Salt’s remote natively supports the Apple TV right out of the box, with no pairing or setup required — just like Apple’s remote.

This sounds great, although now that Apple’s content is available on Amazon and Samsung devices, I’m not sure there’s much reason to buy an actual Apple TV. The Fire TV Stick 4K is only $50 and comes with what looks like a decent remote.

Previously:

Update (2020-01-02): Juli Clover:

There’s also no Home button available on the Salt remote. On Apple’s version, the Home button lets you get to the Home screen quickly and access the app switcher to close out apps or swap between apps. Holding down the menu button on the Salt Remote brings you to the Home screen of the Apple TV, but there’s no way to replicate the other missing Home button functionality.

Given that this is an inexpensive remote option, it is powered with two triple A batteries that need to be replaced every six months on average, but that’s a minor inconvenience.

All in all, the Salt Remote is clean, simple to use, and has no fiddly touch interface to deal with.

17 Comments

‘… although now that Apple’s content is available on Amazon and Samsung devices, I’m not sure there’s much reason to buy an actual Apple TV. Fire TV Stick 4K is only $50 and comes with what looks like a decent remote.’ I disagree with this. The fact that a non-Apple device costs less and comes with what appears to be a decent remote control is all more reason to purchase an actual Apple TV 4K. tvOS is inherently more secure than any nonsensical Android derivative that powers Fire TV Stick 4K for example. Never have I personally experienced any problem with usage of the SIRI remote control, and I have no eyesight hence my world is tactile. The touch pad is of a non-glossy texture; the buttons are apodeictic in their arrangement; the two microphones are sufficiently present [holes on top and bottom]; I can continue ad nauseam about the attributes of the remote people seem not to favour. With regards to Apple TV, the fact that it runs tvOS – an iOS-derived ‘fork’ should be sufficient reason to purchase an actual Apple TV no matter what costs less to deliver likewise content.

@Brother What are the benefits to tvOS, security or otherwise, if it’s just a window to view content?

Will Robertson

@Michael — being able to use HomePod as the audio? Or can Airplay TVs do that already anyway?

>any nonsensical Android derivative

Can you expand on what makes Android TV boxes nonsensical?

I have both an Apple TV and an Nvidia Shield, and the only thing I use the Apple TV for is streaming pictures and movies from their iPhones when friends are over. Everything else, I do on the Shield TV, since it has a much better user interface, is much faster and more powerful, comes with an amazing controller, and allows side-loading apps.

That remote is one of Jony Ive’s most egregiously self-indulgent design fails. I use the old one, which was produced when Steve Jobs was still there to keep Ive on the straight and narrow.

Sören Nils Kuklau

What are the benefits to tvOS, security or otherwise, if it’s just a window to view content?

Indeed, I don’t really understand why Apple TV (the hardware box) still exists as a product at all. There’s very little it can do that other AirPlay/HomePod devices can’t.

Play Apple Arcade games, I guess. And act as a HomePod automation hub rather than merely a device. Seems pricey just for that.

Now that they’ve opened it up to third parties, they need to rethink or ditch their own hardware box.

@Will Yes, I’m pretty sure that audio output to HomePod is only available to actual Apple TVs. So this, and AirPlay viewing from iOS apps, would seem to be the main advantages to Apple hardware. (Samsung TVs supports AirPlay, but Fire TV Stick 4K doesn’t.)

I absolutely DESPITE the TV remote. It is a terrible terrible design. I’m sure part of it is just the software (try jumping back 10s in YouTube - its maddening because half the time it just displays the bar), especially since the iPhone app is the same. But the hardware sucks too.

I watch WWDC videos on my Apple TV. Is that now possible on third party boxes and TVs? If not, that’s a reason to use an actual Apple TV, at least for many readers of this blog.

Bryan Pietrzak

Can you access Apple Music (or iTunes Music Library), or iCloud Photo Library on other devices?

What about purchased movies from the iTunes Store? Are those available on non-Apple devices?

For me, security of any operating system including tvOS is paramount, even if I use it for Sling TV, Channels DVR, Plex/Infuse to name my most used programmes. If it connects to the worldwide web, it must be secure as possible, and Apple is much more advantageous in that respect. I called Android alternatives nonsensical not for their convenience, but for their nature as an attack vector comparative to operating systems by Apple. I intend not for this to be a comparison; my original message is security matters to me apparently more than many even if using Apple TV 4K with the aforementioned software and AirPlay 2. Alas, VoiceOver by Apple, its bugs notwithstanding, is by far the most stable and reliable screen reader on any device not running the Windows operating system. Nothing Android offers compares.

Will Robertson

@Michael — of course if one of the only things an AppleTV can differentiate itself by is output to HomePod then... maybe AppleTV could live within HomePod one day. I use them paired at the moment and switching over the audio connection all the time is annoying and buggy.

>for their nature as an attack vector comparative to operating systems by Apple

Honestly, I think unless you're specifically the target of a government, or unless you intentionally download APKs from weird sources, there's probably no real-world difference in security between iOS and Android, particularly for something like a TV box, which is behind a NAT anyways. It might be a bit different for phones, especially if you carry your phone across borders and might have to physically hand it off to government agents. In that case, and iPhone would probably be the better choice.

And if you *are* the target of a government, then good luck, because both Android and iOS devices regularly have zero-day exploits. In fact, just recently, there was the iOS zero-day used by China for two years against Uyghur Muslims without anyone noticing anything:
https://mjtsai.com/blog/2019/09/05/significant-ios-vulnerabilities-used-against-uyghur-muslims-in-china/

Sören Nils Kuklau

of course if one of the only things an AppleTV can differentiate itself by is output to HomePod then… maybe AppleTV could live within HomePod one day. I use them paired at the moment and switching over the audio connection all the time is annoying and buggy.

Sounds good, but HomePod really needs to get a wired input (presumably HDMI), then.

Fortunately you can still buy the silver remote from Apple. We just bought 2 to go with a couple of our Apple TVs. The black remotes are useful to do some functions that the silver ones can't do.

I asked the Swiss company if there was a way to buy their remote - I have a ticket number, but no reply as yet.

Cheers, Liam

>I asked the Swiss company if there was a way to buy their remote

Presumably, you can just find somebody in Switzerland and have them pick one up for you in a Salt store. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they started turning up on eBay any second now.

@ Will Robertson – The capabilities of Apple TV 4K within a HomePod is quite a good idea provided HDMI 2.*+ and/or DisplayPort 1.4+ are added. Of course, I am biassed towards my studio monitors thus I would not purchase HomePod units unless that becomes the new Apple TV.

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