Is the Apple TV Remote Finally Good?

A wheel! Photo: Apple

Apple TV has finally — maybe? — fixed its remote-control problem. While the tech giant’s streaming box has long offered a premium user experience, the remote control included with the ultrapricey device has always, for lack of a better term, sucked. Sure, it offered voice control with Siri long before it was trendy. But it’s also always been too small and easily lost, the touchpad is finicky, and it has no dedicated buttons for muting shows or powering on the TV. After nearly 15 years, the Cupertino crowd has finally listened to all of our whining: A new Apple TV remote is on the way next month.

Announced Tuesday at the company’s Spring Loaded virtual event, the reinvented remote appears to go a long way toward addressing the biggest complaints about the device. It appears to be a bit larger and thicker (and hopefully a bit less likely to disappear into sofa cushions), while also adding the aforementioned mute and power buttons. There’s still a trackpad for navigation, but it has now been augmented with what Apple calls “clickpad control that offers five-way navigation for better accuracy,” including an outer ring which offers “an intuitive circular gesture that turns it into a jog control.” Basically, it looks as if Apple has decided to let consumers choose between the trackpad-like experience the Apple remote has always offered, or something more tactile, as with Roku or Amazon Fire remotes. The Siri button has also been relocated to the side of the remote, which may prove more convenient when trying to use voice commands in a dark room. Sadly, the Apple TV remote doesn’t include tracking ability (like Roku’s new premium remote), even though — or maybe precisely because — Apple also unveiled its long-awaited AirTags (think Tile stickers, but Apple-style).

The new Apple remote will be included with future purchases of the current Apple TV HD model ($149 retail) or the newly announced Apple TV 4K ($179), both of which you can order on April 30, with an expected mid-May shipping date. The latter unit has a bunch of technical improvements (a faster processor Apple calls the A12 Bionic chip, high-frame-rate HDR, Dolby Vision video) as well as new method of fixing color balance on TV sets (you’ll need to have an iPhone, too). Both also include a full year of premium streamer Apple TV+ (retail value: $60), which will come in handy if you still haven’t watched Ted Lasso. Finally, if you don’t want to spring for a new Apple TV box but do want the spiffy new Siri remote, there’s good news: It’s backward compatible with older Apple TV HD and 4K devices and available as a separate purchase. The bad part? It’ll set you back $59.

Is the Apple TV Remote Finally Good?