How to Use Apple TV Remote App for iPhone or iPad

How to Use Apple TV Remote App for iPhone or iPad

As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard noted in this post, Apple has updated its Remote app for iPhone or iPad (free) to work with the new fourth-generation Apple TV. I've been using it a bit and am pleased with how intuitive it is — and how similar it is to the remote that comes with the Apple TV. here's how to use the Apple TV Remote app for iPhone or iPad.

Navigating

Basic navigation is pretty much identical to the Siri remote. On the app you can flick across the display of your iPhone or iPad to navigate on your TV just as you flick on the touchpad of the remote. Or you can drag and hold to move more slowly. A Menu button at bottom functions just like the Menu button on the remote. The app doesn't have a Home button, though. Instead you tap and hold the Menu button to instantly return to the main menu. Also, with the remote, you can put your Apple TV to sleep by pressing and holding the Home button, but there doesn't seem to be a way to do this using the Remote app.

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Once you've decided which app or song you want to use, on the remote you click the touchpad. Using the app, you simply tap the display to select.

Tapping the icon at bottom left in the app gives you access to options, though none of the apps I tried used this feature. And a couple of the apps that do have options, such as the option to hide the chat in Periscope, don't seem to make these options accessible via this icon. Indeed, I couldn't figure out any way to access the Periscope options.

Video playback

A play/pause icon at the bottom right of the app lets you play and pause videos. Just as with the remote, you can swipe left and right to advance backwards and forward. The on-screen help says you can drag and hold to fast-forward and rewind. In my testing, the effect of swiping and of dragging and holding was identical. To resume playing, simply tap the screen.

Swipe down on the display to show the chapter markers and other video options. You can navigate to a different chapter or you can access the Subtitles and Audio options. Tap the Options or Menu icon at bottom to make the video options disappear.

Music playback

As with video playback, you can use the play/pause icon to control music playback. Flick left to go to the previous track or right to go to the next track. The onscreen help says to drag left or right and hold to rewind or fast-forward; however, in my experience I was able to rewind, but dragging right and holding took me to the next track rather than fast-forwarding.

Whether you're listening to music or watching a video, you can tap on Now Playing at top right to see the cover art and the familiar music and video playback controls.

Onscreen help

Just below the Now Playing option at top right is a question mark icon. Tap that, and you get onscreen help that outlines these basic functions.

Search

Of course, a major advantage of the Remote app is entering text when you're searching. Even if you prefer navigating with the Siri remote, when you bring up the search screen on your TV simply tap on the Remote app and the onscreen keyboard jumps up in the app. The Remote app seems to be aware that you need to enter text even if you didn't use it to navigate to the Search screen.

Limitations

According to Apple, the Remote app is "designed to provide simple navigation, text input, and control with the new Apple TV. Features such as Siri, volume control, or using the accelerometer or gyroscope for game play are only made possible with the Siri Remote." In my limited testing, the app didn't work with any of the games I tried.

Overall, it seems like the main utility is search. Hopefully Apple will continue to increase the functionality of this app.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.