Apple patent application reveals advanced TV remote with iCloud features

“As rumors swirl and dance about in the blogosphere about Apple’s coming HDTV, an Apple patent application pops up just in time to tease us about some of the possible new features that their TV remote may offer,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“While some of the features may apply to Apple’s own HDTV, Apple’s planned invasion of this market means attacking the entire market which includes TV’s already in the marketplace today,” Purcher reports. “One of Apple’s wild new universal remote features works like this: you take a photo of your current TV remote and it sends it to iCloud for analysis. It then sends a ‘virtual copy’ of your remote, functionality and all, to your iPhone”

Purcher reports, “You’re now able to control your current TV with Apple’s advanced universal remote and enjoy all of Apple’s TV remote features and likely tie-in products and services.”

Much more, including Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.


  1. That is a truly great idea. By making it so simple to emulate what users are already familiar with, Apple lowers the barrier for entry.

    Some of us forget just how untechnical other people can be and tasks that seem simple to you and I are rather daunting to many others.

  2. Seems silly to emulate existing remotes. They are mostly overly overly complex, inflexible, incompatible PsOS with user-hostile interfaces. The fantasy of the manufacturers of most existing remotes is that users give enough of a damn to learn to fiddle with the goofy, overly complex menus and “features”. We don’t. There are maybe six buttons that get used often, the rest never, if possible. One I never personally use is “Rewind” on the DVD player.

    The remote is not the issue, the device being controlled is the issue.

    1. WOW… while reading this and other articles, I think I just hit upon Steve Jobs idea for tv… Not trying to read beyond the grave or anything so stupid, but putting together these new patents and everything else…

      Its just a wow thing. Steve Jobs was a true genius at putting 1+1 together and getting 4. (genius being the 2 not shown 🙂 )
      Its a super great idea and will put everything together in TV, internet, control, and ease of use.
      WOW, Steve, you were/are the greatest. (still basking at the afterglow of his genius.)


    2. Until people upgrade to a new TV why not get them ready for a switch to Apple’s HDTV. It meets the needs of people stuck with another remote while giving them an in to all things Apple. You missed the point.

  3. Sweet. But the patent implies that, in order to control your devices with your iPhone, it would obviously need IR capabalities, which it currently dosn’t have. Another new feature for the iPhone 6, I guess?

    That would be a little disappointment for many of us current iDevices users. And using a “virtual copy” of those button-stuffed remote controls on my iPhone is not precisely an improvement either. I hope that once Apple determines the functionality of the remote control, it could be accessed through Siri, or in nay case, a more familiar or easy interface. “Virtual copy” functionality would be left for fall-back scenarios.

    1. I don’t think that IR needs to be built into the iPhone itself. I would have thought to operate existing TVs, users would plug in an external box ( like Apple TV ) which would have an IR LED which is then picked up by the TV and other devices and used to control them. The iPhone would talk to the external box via BlueTooth or WiFi and Apple’s mains-operated external box could offer an IR signal that is so bright that it won’t need a strict line of sight to the device it’s controlling.

      Actually controlling the TV through an iPhone could be done in many ways. The manufacturer’s remote could be emulated on the iPhone screen, users could create their own custom remote, or they could opt to use Siri as preferred.

  4. I dont use the TV remote for anything other than on/off and input selection.

    My remote is a programmable model that covers my DirectV, DVD, sound processor and TV. Its a mess, but usable. Doesn’t sound like Apples design will help

    1. I’m curious as to why your programmable won’t do the power or input options. What brand/model is it? My Harmony even turns things on in sequence, with pauses so that power switches are on before calling for a different component to switch on (dedicated clean power supply first, pause, then sat, monitor and audio)

  5. I recently got a Harmony 650 and I have to say it is all I ever heard good about it and more.

    If Apple can improve on that then they have really done something.

  6. Mmh… yeah, I’ve heard of 3rd-party solutions that do that. But IR iPhones is what the patents says (well, the article says that, actually). To me, IR is over. TV’s, and soon other devices, are starting to use wi-fi remote controlling with phone apps (the remote control stays IR, however). My hope is that even the RCs will convert to Bluetooth 4.0. In any case, this may be part of a more complete solution, and the way we interface with the RC, virtual or otherwise, is what actually needs improvement.

  7. Nice. Current Harmony user as well. And using Siri to control the tv is awkward. During a quiet scene, do you really want to say “Volume up, volume up”? Those are the people I want to strangle in the theater. One of the reasons I don’t go to the theater…

  8. A virtual remote…what a great idea! Of course if this were to come to pass, I’m sure Apple would allow us to edit the interface to remove unwanted buttons and enlarge others.

  9. Stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last week that allowed me to control not only the TV but the entire Lodgenet system from their iPhone App … just enter the code into the app. Code expires at checkout.

  10. Guys, think like Apple…. There will be no remote in the traditional sense. The “remote” is/will be the Apple TV box. There will be no remote, no actual Apple TV set, there will just be a massive update to the Apple TV Box to support DVR recording to iCloud via subscriptions based on the channels or shows you want. Just wait. The nut the Jobs cracked was a software one, not a hardware one in regards to TV.

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