Cable companies offered brandable Apple TV remote alternative

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
Universal Electronics is offering its own version of an easy-to-use "button-style" remote control for the Apple TV, one it hopes to sell to cable companies to be included as part of a streaming video package.




The Apple TV has been offered as a bonus from some cable companies for a few years, with Apple's set-top box used as an alternative to the usual cable box or DVR. Now, one company is attempting to take advantage of the concept by enabling cable providers to further brand their Apple TV-based package, one that also does away with the Siri Remote.

Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) announced on Friday it was producing its own Apple TV remote, one that is intended to be acquired and distributed by cable providers, reports The Verge. Following a similar path to the Button Remote for Apple TV, its own version offers more buttons for users to press, rather than relying on a trackpad.

Instead, the remote uses a directional control pad, along with media navigation keys, menu and Home buttons, power button, and channel and volume up and down buttons. The remote also includes a button for making Siri requests.

Billed as enhancing "the live TV experience," the remote also has a dedicated button marked "Guide," which will automatically open up the cable provider's electronic program guide within their tvOS app.

Using Bluetooth LE to communicate with the Apple TV itself, with support for Apple's MFi authentication, the remote also uses infrared to provide a universal control function for the television. Lastly, cable providers can add their own branding to the remote.

UEI advises orders for the remote control can be placed from December, but only by "Multichannel Video Program Distributors," not consumers. The intention is for it to be acquired and then supplied together with an Apple TV or Apple TV 4K to consumers.

Consumers still have a number of other options available to them if they do not want to use the Siri Remote, such as Function's Button Remote.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    Now... if only it were useable via BT or WiFi like the Siri Remote.
    I have my AppleTV hidden away out of sight... this remote won't work without an IR line-of-sight.

    (But I agree that the Siri Remote is TOO minimalist... it is just not the best possible remote.)

  • Reply 2 of 36
    Now... if only it were useable via BT or WiFi like the Siri Remote.
    I have my AppleTV hidden away out of sight... this remote won't work without an IR line-of-sight.

    (But I agree that the Siri Remote is TOO minimalist... it is just not the best possible remote.)

    From the article:

    Using Bluetooth LE to communicate with the Apple TV itself, with support for Apple's MFi authentication, the remote also uses infrared to provide a universal control function for the television.”

    So no line of sight needed to the Apple TV. 
    elijahggregoriusmCloudTalkinmike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 36
    Mute button. 
    bloggerblogmobirdwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 36
    I am confused.  How does this remote work?

    More correctly stated:  How do you hold this remote - orientation wise?  Does the power button go at the top or the bottom?  I wish it was as clear and obvious as the Apple remote...
    Beatsanantksundaramcrowley
  • Reply 5 of 36
    I am confused.  How does this remote work?

    More correctly stated:  How do you hold this remote - orientation wise?  Does the power button go at the top or the bottom?  I wish it was as clear and obvious as the Apple remote...
    Power button at the top. 
  • Reply 6 of 36
    I am confused.  How does this remote work?

    More correctly stated:  How do you hold this remote - orientation wise?  Does the power button go at the top or the bottom?  I wish it was as clear and obvious as the Apple remote...
    Well there’s a couple options for you. You could take a cue from the picture provided. There’s a pretty good chance that they took the picture with the power button at top because that is how it is supposed to be oriented. If you distrust the photographer and you’re one of those people who reads things, the buttons with the words “guide” and “menu” shouldn’t be upside down when your holding it. One last possibility is to use the pictograms on the remote that show a microphone and a television, both of those shouldn’t be upside down when holding the remote. 
    shark5150Xed
  • Reply 7 of 36
    ericesqueericesque Posts: 23unconfirmed, member
    I got the new Chromecast with a YouTube TV subscription.  It’s clearly a cheap remote. It beats the pants off the Siri remote though. Since Google cloned the Apple TV interface it’s easy to tell tactile buttons and the scroll wheel are a far superior to navigate Apple TV.  
  • Reply 8 of 36
    Finally a mute button 😮
    gregoriusm
  • Reply 9 of 36
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,338member
    While I concur with those who say the Apple TV Siri Remote could stand some improvement, this remote:

    1. Doesn't have Siri, so you're sending voice and button-press data to your cable provider/partners/streaming services/Universal Electronics/the Russians/who knows;

    2. Can't be used as a game controller;

    3, Doesn't have a trackpad for scrubbing/moving through a keyboard/games/etc

    I'm sure in some people's minds its an improvement (for example the mute button is an unqualified plus), but now that I'm used to trackpad and the privacy the Siri Remote gives me I actually find the Roku remote that came with my latest TV slow and awkward (though volume/mute on the side on the Roku remote really helps it stay small, which I appreciate).

    I suspect the next Apple TV box (which I expect sometime next year) will have a different but not dissimilar design so till then I'll live with the one I'm used to and like using.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 36
    It’s remarkable that AI forgot the mute button. Much like Apple itself.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    chasm said:
    While I concur with those who say the Apple TV Siri Remote could stand some improvement, this remote:

    1. Doesn't have Siri, so you're sending voice and button-press data to your cable provider/partners/streaming services/Universal Electronics/the Russians/who knows;

    From the article: “ The remote also includes a button for making Siri requests.”
    dewmeanantksundaramwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 36
    Nice.  This remote doesn't lack any of the functionality that the OE Apple remote has, including Siri, plus it has backlighting, and dispenses with the lame mini track pad that's as much of a hindrance as it is help.  Surprising that it took this long for a 3rd party to produce an equivalent, but UEI is up to the task.  Will see if the JP1 folks can eek some extra functionality of out it.

    I hope this will eventually be offered to consumers, or at least slip through side channels.
    edited November 2020
  • Reply 13 of 36
    payecopayeco Posts: 426member
    There is definitely a market for this. Some people, like my mom for instance, just can’t get the hang of using the touch surface in the Siri remote. She can operate the touch screens on her iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch like a pro but for some reason she has such a hard time with the Siri remote. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 36
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,054member
    Siri remote is the best remote I've ever used and I will place it as the most innovative next to the Wii Remote. It's not as bad as AI readers claim.

    Would love improvements like Find MY and a speaker. Backlight would be awesome and better motion sensing. Too bad Apple is abandoning 3D touch as it would also be welcome.
    DancingMonkeyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 36
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,430moderator
    payeco said:
    There is definitely a market for this. Some people, like my mom for instance, just can’t get the hang of using the touch surface in the Siri remote. She can operate the touch screens on her iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch like a pro but for some reason she has such a hard time with the Siri remote. 
    The touch scrolling is tuned differently on the Apple TV, it stops quite abruptly and there's more latency between gesture and movement vs a touchscreen. There's also no need for selection on iOS, it's just scroll and tap. On remote screens, it needs scroll, select, tap:



    The momentum scrolling on iOS devices is a lot faster, it would be nice if it was tuned differently on Apple TV or have a setting that allows the user to set the scroll speed. Just now it feels like you have to swipe over and over to get down the rows, that should be possible in a single gesture to swipe down to the row and then slide around to select the icon.

    It's probably hard to distinguish between a scroll and a selection change, you can only base it on swipe speed. It's a lot easier to just have one gesture so for example have the selection row locked in the middle of the screen (highlighted white bar) and then vertical scroll can be as fast as it needs because it's just swapping the row, the active selection will always be in that row. Like how the Apple TV menu works.

    Then it's just a left-right swipe to change selection in the row. It would have to animate the row into place but it should still be faster to get to what the user wants and it can have animation interrupts so if a row is 50% into the selection bar and the user swipes right and taps before the vertical scroll animation stops, it still knows what the closest icon was to open it. At the extreme ends, it might have a blank area beyond the selection bar but it can be filled with something or even wrap around. It can recoil to show it's the top/bottom and the user would have to scroll past it. Or behave like the settings menu and move the selection bar.

    For audio level, it could have been handled with a single button, not even plus/minus. Tapping the audio button could show a slider on-screen and swipe/tap to change volume and holding the button could mute, tapping again would unmute.

    The home button that is the TV icon also looks like a screen sharing/mirroring button. Safari uses a home icon for homepage, it would be more intuitive when it's called the home button to use a home icon or even the rounded square like the older iPhones.
    philboogiewatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 36
    I am confused.  How does this remote work?

    More correctly stated:  How do you hold this remote - orientation wise?  Does the power button go at the top or the bottom?  I wish it was as clear and obvious as the Apple remote...
    Power button at the top. 
    drdavid said:
    I am confused.  How does this remote work?

    More correctly stated:  How do you hold this remote - orientation wise?  Does the power button go at the top or the bottom?  I wish it was as clear and obvious as the Apple remote...
    Well there’s a couple options for you. You could take a cue from the picture provided. There’s a pretty good chance that they took the picture with the power button at top because that is how it is supposed to be oriented. If you distrust the photographer and you’re one of those people who reads things, the buttons with the words “guide” and “menu” shouldn’t be upside down when your holding it. One last possibility is to use the pictograms on the remote that show a microphone and a television, both of those shouldn’t be upside down when holding the remote. 
    Sarcasm folks...  Sarcasm.

    My comment was targeted more at the absurd design of the Apple remote which is so easily held in the wrong orientation.  This is why I added the "as clear and obvious as the Apple remote".

    I will attempt to be clearer next time.
    JaiOh81anantksundaramcrowleyCloudTalkinbala1234watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 36

    Beats said:
    Siri remote is the best remote I've ever used and I will place it as the most innovative next to the Wii Remote. It's not as bad as AI readers claim.

    Would love improvements like Find MY and a speaker. Backlight would be awesome and better motion sensing. Too bad Apple is abandoning 3D touch as it would also be welcome.
    <begin sarcasm>
    It has earned a place right next to the Apple USB puck mouse for "excellence in human ergonomic design"!
    <end sarcasm>

    Working on making sarcasm easier to spot.  ;-)
    edited November 2020 MplsPanantksundarammobirdCloudTalkinbala1234
  • Reply 18 of 36


    For audio level, it could have been handled with a single button, not even plus/minus. Tapping the audio button could show a slider on-screen and swipe/tap to change volume and holding the button could mute, tapping again would unmute.

    <begin sarcasm>
    Using this minimalist design philosophy, why have any discrete stand-alone buttons at all?  The remote could simply be a touchpad with an integrated button.  Clicking the trackpad brings up a hierarchical menu system which the user can move through using the touchpad.  This would make the remote even cleaner looking!  If you do find a need for a button...  perhaps a single button in the very center of the trackpad.  You could even make a matching depressing on the opposite side for extra symmetry.  This would allow those who feel the need to use the remote as a spinner - relieving them of unwanted stress and anxiety (likely developed from using the remote).
    <end sarcasm>

    Sorry...  It's early and I haven't had any coffee yet.  Well, that and I really don't care for the Apple remote.
    anantksundarammobirdbala1234
  • Reply 19 of 36
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,517member
    This looks like a good option for people who have difficulty with the trackpad on Apple’s remote and people who want a mute button. I really don’t care about the mute button because I can always hit the pause button if I’m interrupted. This has the added benefit of making sure you don’t miss any video either. The only use case for me that would benefit from mute would be while watching live TV via the Spectrum app. Bu the +/- volume keys work too, though not as instantaneously.   

    Once I put a silicone case on my Apple TV remote I found that I like using it a lot more. It’s no longer hard to hold. The most impressive thing on the Apple TV remote for me is using Siri for searches. It seems to work quite well and is far less torturous than using the on-screen keyboard, which is why I always reach for a keyboard or my iPhone if I have to type anything into Apple TV.

    I also have a Logitech K600 keyboard that I use with my Apple TV, mostly because I also have a Mac Mini attached to my TV and the K600 works with both devices over Bluetooth. One odd thing with the K600 is that its trackpad doesn’t work with the Apple TV, but it also has a D-Pad that does work with Apple TV - except for the YouTube app, which for some strange reason only navigates with the Apple TV remote. Not sure why a specific app would behave differently, but it does. In any case, I haven’t found a way to use my Apple TV with a single control device, so the diminutive Apple TV remote will be sticking around for a while, love it or not.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 20 of 36
    chasm said:
    While I concur with those who say the Apple TV Siri Remote could stand some improvement, this remote:

    1. Doesn't have Siri, so you're sending voice and button-press data to your cable provider/partners/streaming services/Universal Electronics/the Russians/who knows;

    2. Can't be used as a game controller;

    3, Doesn't have a trackpad for scrubbing/moving through a keyboard/games/etc

    I'm sure in some people's minds its an improvement (for example the mute button is an unqualified plus), but now that I'm used to trackpad and the privacy the Siri Remote gives me I actually find the Roku remote that came with my latest TV slow and awkward (though volume/mute on the side on the Roku remote really helps it stay small, which I appreciate).

    I suspect the next Apple TV box (which I expect sometime next year) will have a different but not dissimilar design so till then I'll live with the one I'm used to and like using.
    👍
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