Fed up with the Siri Remote? If you own an iPhone, there's a better way.
If you have a fourth-generation Apple TV, you'll likely be familiar with the Siri Remote — the company's slender iPod nano-sized black remote with built-in Siri capabilities and a touch pad. Whether you love or loathe the Siri Remote, however, there's another option for your Apple TV browsing and gaming needs: Your iPhone.
What is the Apple TV Remote app?
This app runs on your iPhone (or iPad at iPhone size) to simulate the experience of using a Siri Remote — with a few extra perks. Like the Siri Remote, it offers touch-based navigation, a button for talking to Siri, and play/pause controls. The app isn't limited to these options, however: can become a simple game pad, digital keyboard, and video or music scrubber. About the only thing the app can't do is adjust your Apple TV's volume.
If you have a second- or third-generation Apple TV, the remote app's basic functionality will work for you as well, minus a Siri button or two.
Why should I use it?
If you have an iPhone, the app makes it infinitely easier to watch movies or play games on your Apple TV, especially if that pesky physical remote is nowhere to be found. You can also have simultaneous devices active as remotes — ideally for playing games, but it might also be a good way to troll your friends.
Where can I get it?
The Apple TV Remote app is available from the App Store for free.
How to set up the Apple TV Remote app
Before you do anything else, make sure you're on the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV you wish to control.
- Download the Apple TV Remote app from the App Store.
- Turn on your Apple TV.
- Open the Apple TV Remote app.
Tap the Add Apple TV button.
- Choose from the list of available Apple TVs on your Wi-Fi network.
- Enter the pairing code displayed on your Apple TV.
With that, you're all set. You can use your iPhone to control your friend's Apple TV, or set up a secondary iPhone or iPad to do the same.
How to use your Apple TV with the Remote app
Depending on what content you're interacting with, you'll see a few different options in the Remote app.
The Remote app's primary view is very similar to its virtual predecessor: The vast majority of the screen is dedicated to a left-right-up-down touchpad, with four buttons along the bottom of the screen: A big Menu button, Play/Pause button, Home button, and Siri button. These all work identically to your physical Siri Remote, with a bit of an improvement: Your iPhone buzzes, for example, when pressing the Siri button, to let you know it's listening.
As with prior virtual remotes, the content and information itself stays on the Apple TV's screen; the remote is here to help you control that content and information.
For viewing movies and listening to music
If you select a movie or song, the main interface changes slightly: You'll see 10-second "skip" buttons on either side of the Menu button, along with a new Details button in the upper right corner. Tap it, and you'll see its cover art along with a scrub bar, Play/Pause button, and two 10 second skip buttons for moving backwards or forwards.
If you're playing music, you'll also see options for Shuffle and Repeat in the bottom left and right corners of the screen, respectively.
For playing games
If you launch a game from your Apple TV, you'll see a new icon along the top center of your screen: A game controller. Tap on it, and you'll go into one of the app's entirely different viewscreens.
Yes, Apple has developed a vertical virtual gamepad for playing games on the Apple TV; turn your iPhone sideways, and you'll be able to use the digital touchpad on the left along with an A (select) and X (also a play/pause) button on the right. To exit the game, you can always tap on the Menu button in the lower-right corner, or just select the Close button in the upper right corner to return to the main Remote app screen.
For entering text
There's one more hidden viewscreen: The keyboard.
If you need to type in a search query, you need only to select the text entry screen and you'll be prompted with a full keyboard inside the app. (If you prefer dictating your query, you can tap the Done button in the upper left corner of the screen, then tap and hold the Siri button to speak.)
If the keyboard doesn't appear automatically, you can also reach it by tapping on the keyboard icon along the top center of the screen.
How to remove the Apple TV Remote app from your Apple TV
Don't want your iPhone or iPad connected to your Apple TV any longer? Removing the pairing is an easy fix.
- On your Apple TV, go to Settings > Remotes and Devices.
- Select Remote App.
- Select the device (under the My Devices header) that you'd like to remove.
- Tap on Forget Device.
How to troubleshoot the Apple TV Remote app
Not able to connect to your Apple TV Remote app? Here are a few basic fixes.
- Make sure your iPhone and Apple TV are on the same Wi-Fi network: They won't work, otherwise.
- If you've paired your iPhone before, but it's not showing up, you may have to reset your connection. Follow the steps for removing an Apple TV Remote, then pairing from scratch.
- Reboot your iPhone.
- If all else fails, remove the Apple TV Remote app and reinstall it.
Any questions about using the Apple TV Remote app with your Apple TV? Let us know below.