How Apple Watch will be your next remote control

Just like the iPhone and iPad, different people will find each of those features compelling to a greater or lesser degree, and which ones they find compelling can change over time. The Watch as remote control is a great example: Apple hasn't spent a lot of time on it yet, but it could become much more important as time passes.

Camera Remote

With the Apple Watch, you can remotely access the viewfinder on your iPhone's iSight camera. That means you can put your iPhone somewhere, see what it sees, and take the perfect picture — even from afar. That could be for a selfie, group photo, or just to get what would otherwise be an impossible shot. You can even set a time lapse, right from your wrist.

I can see Martin Reisch — Instagram's safesolvent able to take his renowned "stance" shots with just a few taps, no matter how insane his positioning.

Music + Audio

The Apple Watch can store up to 2GB locally and play it as well as any iPod ever could. It can also control your iPhone's music playback, both locally stored music and from iTunes Match. If your iPhone is streaming to AirPlay-enabled speakers, whether you're in your office or at the lake, you can control all of that as well, right from your wrist.

Right now headphone remotes are like iPod shuffles — they let you do basic actions. With Apple Watch, it'll be more like an iPod nano. A small window that really lets you see into your audio.

Apple TV + iTunes Remote

Similar to the Remote app for iOS, the Remote app for the Apple Watch lets you connect to any Apple TV you own, at home or at work, along with any iTunes library on your Mac or Windows PC. Whether you're in the family room or the board room, alone or in a group, there's no more reaching for the hardware remote and no more reaching for the iPhone or iPad — There's just a few taps and twists of your wrist.

Best of all, if you need to quickly pause at any time, you don't have to find the controller or scramble for the phone — you can just tap what's always on your wrist.

Siri + HomeKit

As cool as media remotes could to be, the bigger promise is home automation. With Siri, Apple's personal digital assistant, and HomeKit, the company's accessory interface framework, you'll be able to do everything from opening and closing doors to setting lights to changing the temperature and more. And all with a word.

There's already a BMW car remote, Pacemaker DJ, and an AMPLIFi remote for speakers and and guitar amps on Apple's App Store for Watch page (opens in new tab), and Apple demonstrated a garage door opener and closer with remote monitoring on stage.

HomeKit was announced last year for developers, but we'll probably only start seeing an influx of HomeKit-enabled accessories for this year's round of winter holidays. The Apple Watch will have been out for months by then, and my dream of lifting my wrist and saying "Siri, crash the compound!" could well be fulfilled.

The future of remote control

The big caveat here is that we don't yet know how well any of this will work. It could be utterly seamless to the point where it's transformative, or it could get off to a slow, glitchy start. After having seen the Apple Watch and HomeKit in person, I'm enthusiastic to say the least.

I can see a future where homes, toys, gear, and more is all easily controlled, at least at the simplest and most convenient level, by the device on my wrist.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

31 Comments
  • I am guessing 10 year from now, we will have one foldable large display device in our pockets and a watch on our wrists. No ID cards, no keys, no cash. May be if apple is really smart end enough, no passports needed.
  • I'm already thinking that if my iPhone is just going to be a hotspot for my Apple Watch and my iPad but that I still have to carry it with me wherever I go, then I'm just going to buy the cheapest most plastic iPhone possible next time.
  • I paid equivalent of USD 1,170 for my 128 gb iPhone 6 Plus. I don't see myself spending USD 700 or more (no way I am getting the plastic one) on the first gen Apple Watch especially when I know I would not be able to resist the rumoured iPad Pro this fall or next year.
  • It's certainly becoming an "either/or" situation with Apple's mobile products. One has to be very upper middle class (or better) to be able to afford to be an Apple user these days. Most folks won't be able to afford them all, let alone use them all.
  • It's these points of quick conveniences that Apple will be able to execute better than the competition. In some cases, exclusively. App developers should be thinking along these lines and hopefully not trying to cram existing iPhone apps on a small screen. Between being a remote controller and authenticator, digital health assistant, new and intimate ways of short messaging, and loads of personal style options, I couldn't be more bullish on the category and the Watch. I used to think app developers held the keys, but now I'm thinking more about digital and physical product integrations.
  • I agree. A disturbing amount of the Apps being shown for the Watch so far are more full blown than I would have expected. People will drain their battery playing games and dealing with the tiny screen and then complain about it.
  • I agree. Less is more for watches.
  • I hope iMore is being very well rewarded for this watch campaign.
  • I know...crazy eh? It's almost like this forum is dedicated to Apple products. Sent from the iMore App
  • +1 Sent from the iMore App
  • I get it, but nowhere there is a discussion, or the mere thought, that by Apple's own estimate, by the time you get home to your Apple TV your watch will be dead. We get by with our iPhones and iPads because we are used to charging whenever we need, and still use the device. With the watch, you have to take off your wrist to charge, which defeats the whole purpose of being a wrist device. How's that going to affect our usage patterns?
    Obvious things like these are never considered, just the advertisement angle, which color you need, which size you need, which model you need. Isn't that Apple's role, do they really need everybody elese doing the same?
  • Who knew a blog dedicated to Apple discussions would talk about newly announced Apple products.. Boggles the mind! :p
  • Tim Cook announces iWatch - 9th September 2014 Time lists iWatch as one of 25 Best inventions of 2014 - November 2014 Solamar announces iWatch - March 2015
  • They are. By visits from people who are interested in knowing about it. Isn't this why the site exists?
  • Rene, do you know if homekit can be a software update for things like Philips Hue? Or will it require new hardware?
  • Most features are future this, future that lol and at times it's difficult to patiently observe the grow and development of a product. Hopefully one day the Apple Watch will one day better suit me.
  • Why isn't this listed as an "Advertisement" ? That's kind of misleading.
  • It isn't an advertisement. iMore doesn't roll like that. Sent from the iMore App
  • Have you checked the other sites? Everyone is writing stories about the Apple Watch. It's hot stuff! It reminds me of when the iPad was announced. People couldn't stop writing/talking about it.
  • anyone have an idea what time of day the pre-orders will start for this watch? i'm hoping to not have to get up at 3 am to order one.
  • Yeah I honestly have been waiting just as hard as Georgia Dow! I can't wait for the things we've already seen. But what really blows my mind is what developers will be able to put out once they get the hardware. They have the imagination and capability to think up things we would never have. I'll be ready for preorders and have the 24th off just because.
  • Every time I come in to the comments section it's the same 3-5 people complaining about this and that about the Apple Watch but you know something this thing is going to rock the world it doesn't matter how you 3-5 people complain about because it doesn't matter!
  • If only Apple could get their messaging straight. Only enthusiasts like us are convinced that it will be of any worth. They should obey their own retail training of "benefits, not features". They keep listing feature after feature but they haven't given the simple case for how it will make my life better or why the thing exists. I thought that the March keynote would remedy this but it wasn't much better.
  • I think because its use case is much more diverse than for iPad. So maybe there can't be a single narrative. People who'd like it would each really like only 1 or 2 things that it does. Fitness tracking and glance-able notification / information might be my use case, but someone else may find the remote control / home kit and apple pay features more useful.
  • Next Article ... " How Apple Watch brings out the haters " Sent from the iMore App
  • Not for me. I am sure there will be a lot of iphone users that think they need one but for me not so much. I currently and will never wear a watch. Would be interesting to see how easy the screen breaks having it on your wrist. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • AppleTV needs to take over the function of Receiver in typical home theater set-up. If it does, no need for logitech type universal remote. We can control all the devices via AppleWatch/iPhone/iPad. Apple will solve a real pain point for users and also create new revenue stream by bundling Beats home speakers with AppleTV.
  • I think the watch will replace the iPhone in 7 years we only have in iPhone for a big screen! The main product is the watch and mirror everything to the iphone! Now the iPhone mirrors to the watch
  • At the moment I use my iPhone and the remote app to control multi-room speakers via iTunes on a Mac. Speakers are on a couple of Airport Expresses as well as an Apple TV.. Does anyone know if I can control the volume on all the speakers from an Apple Watch using the remote app?
  • So how is everyones "new" big screen iPhone!!!? LOL
  • This is an interesting concept I hadn't originally thought of with the watch and now makes me want one all the more. I wonder if you will be able to remote control Keynote? I do a lot of presentations and Kenote is my "Go To" for that - I like the idea of just hooking my iPad up to a projector or TV and more often than not - I use my iPhone as a remote. If the watch can do that... VERY HANDY.