Apple still working on Wii Remote-like device

“I’ve had an Apple TV for a few days now; the user interface, speed and content are all amazing. It’s all great except for one part: The Apple remote, which quite frankly, sucks,” MG Siegler reports for VentureBeat.

“Rumors have circulated before that Apple was working on a new version that would be far more useful. In fact, patents filed over the past few years point to a device that would have similarities to the Nintendo Wii gaming console’s controller, the Wiimote. That device uses motion (along with button clicks) to manipulate action on the screen. A newer patent, uncovered by AppleInsider, suggests Apple is still very much at work on a similar concept for its Apple remote,” Siegler reports.

Full article here.

AppleInsider reports that the Apple Remote control system described in the patent application “would be more reliable than the company’s existing infrared-based model in that it would be able to better distinguish predetermined light sources from stray light sources.”

“‘Some remote control systems use infrared (IR) emitters to determine the position and/or movement of a remote control,’ Apple said. ‘Such systems, however, often experience a common problem in that they may not be able to distinguish desired or predetermined IR light sources from undesirable environmental IR sources, e.g., the sun or a light bulb. Because those systems may mistake environmental IR sources for IR emitters, they may incorrectly determine the position and/or movement of the remote control,'” AppleInsider reports.

“Another common problem in that the systems may not be able to distinguish IR emitters from reflections of the IR emitters, like those from the surface of a table or a window. Therefore, Apple proposes remote control systems that can distinguish predetermined light sources from stray or unintended light sources, such as environmental light sources or reflections.,’ AppleInsider reports.

Full article, with patent app illustrations, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Bill C.” for the heads up.]


  1. Apple files all kinds of patents and that does not mean anything.

    I really hope that they fix this remote because my family has a difficult time just turning off the Apple TV after the last update. You now have to be in the main screen before you can turn off the unit or use the convoluted navigation to settings to shut this thing off…WHY…WHY…WHY???

  2. Wait, I was under the impression, the only way you can shut it off is by unplugging it from the wall.

    Meanwhile, here’s one from my wish list:

    Apple UI guys, please allow for the navigation to roll off the edge of any menus. For example, while at the top of any menu, I’d like to just press up on the remote and it’ll roll to the bottom of the options and vice versa. This will remove the annoying requirement to scroll all the way down or up. It should work sideways under certain windows, especially in the keyboard menu somehow.
    This certainly would be a tad better for long lists of albums/songs/artists/podcasts etc.

    I used to work as a QA for a competing product for ATT, and I know, we had it and you should too. Not too difficult to implement at all, and I’m surprised your QA didn’t catch it a long time ago. Or is it just a Jobsian peculiarity?

  3. @krquet

    You can put your Apple TV in standby mode by pressing and holding the play/pause button for 5 seconds. But as PK said, you have to be in the main menu area (where the whole nav box is in view). Alternately, they did provide an actual “standby” menu item in the settings menu (if I recall correctly).

    My biggest beef with the Apple TV is it’s horrible crashes. I get about 3 crashes per week, and I have tried everything I can to fix it (including resetting the device several times). I don’t have any third party plugins installed (never have), and yet for some reason it will just restart and it sometimes hangs until I have to finally unplug it. Drives me frickin’ crazy. It happens when I rent movies, or watch my own Handbrake’d DVD’s.

    I think Apple needs to thing about really overhauling this thing, because as it stands now I don’t think the thing deserves to be called an “Apple” TV…

  4. The Apple TV has many issues related to HDMI connected displays. The device can lose its mind, but will generally recover if you repeated turn off and on the display.

    Also, the control via the remote does not operate like a person would expect for backing up or going forward in video. I would guess this is because the Apple TV is slow to respond to commands causing the user to provide too much input.

  5. This would be cool as long as it doesn’t require me to buy a whole new AppleTV.

    The AppleTV dev team needs to take a serious look at what Boxee ( is doing to fill the missing gaps in the AppleTV experience, and then fill those gaps. Boxee already goes far beyond what the stock AppleTV user interface can do, and it’s not even in beta yet!

  6. Maybe version 2.0 of the Remote app for iPhone and iPod touch will be more useful. As it stands now, you still need to use the regular Apple remote for some things, such as NAVIGATING THE MAIN MENU! Until the Remote app can do everything the regular Apple remote can do, it’s not really that useful. As it stands now, if you want to use your iPhone or iPod touch as a remote, then you actually need to switch back and forth between the iPhone and the actual Apple remote. How does this make things simpler?

  7. @krquet:
    Regarding the UI of menus, Apple doesn’t allow the functionality you describe (pressing Up at the top of a menu to go to the bottom) in the Menu Bar on the Mac OS X. Therefore, I think they’re philosophically opposed to it. They probably do that so that you can press and hold the arrow button to reach the top or bottom.

  8. A new Wii remote like device will bring AppleTV to the forefront of home console gaming. Combo it with unbeatable iTunes. The competition will be in a lot of trouble.

    Next Apple target: Sony Playstations and Nintendo Wiis

  9. I would like to see a remote like the iPod touch without the display. Then have the Apple TV run iPod touch simulation so the games and such run on the screen and the remote acts just like the iPod touch only on the large screen. That gives Apple a gaming system, simple, but cool.

  10. “A new Wii remote like device will bring AppleTV to the forefront of home console gaming. Combo it with unbeatable iTunes. The competition will be in a lot of trouble.”

    They could call it the Pippen 2!

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