The design nightmare that is the Apple TV Siri Remote

“I’ve been an Apple guy since the beginning. My first laptop was a Powerbook 100 with a built-in plastic trackball,” Steve Brykman writess for Ars Technica. “But unlike the vast majority of Apple products, which are marvels of engineering and design, the remote on the fourth and fifth generation Apple TVs still leaves me in shock at what a nightmare horror-show the thing is.”

“The Apple TV remote doubles as a game controller,” Brykman writes. “This leads me to point no. 1: tech hardware products shouldn’t try to be all things to all people (though of course, the iPhone manages to do pretty much everything). TV remotes shouldn’t generally be game controllers — and vice versa.”

“Nobody would quibble with the claim that the Apple TV remote looks totally cool. But it seems like real-world usage of the thing was merely an afterthought,” Brykman writes. “For whatever reason, Apple has a history of making remotes that are too small and too thin… But it’s not just that the Apple TV remote is too small and too thin. It’s also too slippery!”

Apple TV 4K and its Siri Remote
Apple TV 4K and its Siri Remote

“The remote is also too symmetrical,” Brykman writes. “The buttons are located exactly in the middle of the remote, and one end of the remote is practically indistinguishable from the other. This is so true that even the tiny Lightning jack on one end looks identical to the IR output jack on the other end. Whose idea was that?!”

It goes on in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup.

Jony certainly wasn’t involved with the design of the Apple TV’s Siri Remote – unless he was drunk during the 20 minutes that were lavished on its so-called design. — MacDailyNews, November 22, 2016

With the Siri Remote, users can’t tell which end is up in a darkened room due to uniform rectangular shape. The remote is still too small, so it gets lost easily. All buttons are the same size and similarly smooth (the raised white ring around the menu button helps, but so barely it’s astounding that Apple even bothered; it’s a bandaid on a turd). The tactile difference between the bottom of the remote vs. the upper Glass Touch surface is too subtle as well; this also leads to not being able to tell which end is up. A larger remote, designed for hands larger than a 2-year-old’s with a simple wedge shape (slightly thicker in depth at the bottom vs. the top), as opposed to a uniform slab, would have instantly communicated the proper orientation to the user.

If Jony Ive “designed” the Siri Remote, he should forfeit his knighthood*.

*But we all know Jony has been obsessed with Apple Park for many years now and likely never even saw the piece of shit remote before they threw it in the box. — MacDailyNews, September 25, 2017

Use Apple’s excellent Remote app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. It works much better than the Siri Remote.

Jony Ive returns to Apple’s management of design team after 2 years – December 8, 2017
Pundits suspect Apple’s Jony Ive no longer involved in iPhone, Mac product design – November 22, 2016
Where is Jony Ive? – March 28, 2016
Jony Ive is the most powerful person at Apple – December 12, 2014
Jony Ive hasn’t been given too much power at Apple – because he’s always had it – February 5, 2013
Steve Jobs left design chief Jonathan Ive ‘more operational power’ than anyone else at Apple – October 21, 2011


  1. I use the first generation Apple TV SIRI remote every day. It is not a design nightmare. It works great, looks nice, holds a charge for months and easily recharged using any iOS charger in my house. It’s far better than any other remote I have near the TV.

    My partner also loves the SIRI remote. She knows her way around her Mac and iPhone but she is no tech geek. As to how well Apple is doing with product design, her opinion matters more than that of a thousand tech bloggers.

    I’m really getting tired of so-called tech journalists that knitpick Apple products to death while ignoring the fact that the hardware and software from the rest of the industry is a collection of steaming piles of s**t.

    Windows 10, I’m looking at you! Let’s talk about a dumpster fire of bad design…

    1. Imo It is definitly pushed to the extreme for very little gain. .
      Why is it so small, so thin, with minimal tactile identiy of the buttons? And so easy to loose .

      That said.. when it came out, i thought the symmetric design could be used to upgrade functionality for gaming in later generation…..i even wrote Apple about the idea.
      The bottom 1/3 of the remote, i thought, could make for a second touch/force surface when activated in horizontal position…and the remote would act as two joystick/thumb game controller.
      The bottom third surface would be activated either through a micro switch on demand or horizontal position detection( if practical)

      It would definitely allow for a better gaming functionality, allowing for both thumbs to be used.

      But hey so far it has not materialized.

    2. I love the 4th gen remote. You don’t have to point it at the TV so you don’t even have to pick it up. Just touch the pause or whatever where it lays. You don’t have to type, just talk. No batteries to change, just charge it for half an hour once in a long while. If you really don’t know which way is up in the dark you’re not paying attention. If it’s upside down the round Menu button won’t be under your thumb. You will feel the long volume button instead. For the twice a year you plug it in, I would think it’s not too difficult to tell the plug hole from the IR port. This type of complaining is typical anti-Apple exaggeration common to all this clickbait and MDN has become a part of it. They know where their bread is buttered and the haters click more often than people with real lives enhanced by Apple products.

      1. Hiram, you are right. The people who whinge and complain about Apple TV are just that – wingers and complainers. Sad.

        They should try Android TV, then they’ll have something to complain about.

      2. Typical fanboy apologist response. Blame MDN, “haters” and everyone else on the planet, but NEVER blame Apple for piss poor design. The remote is an epic design mistake and no amount of apologist love will change that FACT…

    1. I should add my ergonomic complaints about the XR compare it with my much-loved SE (crushed under three trucks) and relate mostly to camerawork.

      My fault: buy in haste, repent at leisure as the old saying goes. Having just bought my daughter a run-out SE, I should have doubled down on another one when mine got smashed. Too late now, the only new SE models left seem to be 32 gb in white.

      Heavier: weight is bad.
      Bigger: doesn’t fit in my upper pockets.
      Slippery: needs a rubber case for grip.
      Rounded chassis: falls over, unlike SE.
      Two-handed operation instead of one.
      Face-on: fingerprint home generally more convenient.
      Switch off: too easy to change volume.

      Etc etc! Good luck to MDN users who enjoy the XR!

        1. ..and having to jump through artificially imposed hoops just to get what you want is YA example of Apple’s “Superior Design”..?

          Well, if the design aesthetic is to more effectively extract cash from my wallet, they would have done a far better job of that by SHIPPING A NEW MAC PRO.


  2. “practically indistinguishable”
    Or, we should say “indistinguishable enough for a clickbait article, which is to say totally distinguishable by touch AND visually, but please view our articles anyway”

    1. … nothing in the history of mankind was as stupid and annoying as that mouse. The first thing I did on our early iMacs was to replace them with Kensington models.

    2. The difference is that when Steve Jobs realized virtually everyone hated the hockey puck mouse he replaced it with a better and more ergonomic mouse. Yes, it took about 18 months to replace that mouse, but he did it. Tim Cook is still behind that remote 3 1/3 years later — and still selling it.

  3. The article doesn’t even go into the REALLY big problem with that remote. ( First note, I am a BIG guy, with larger hands, and all the problems he mentioned also happen with big hands ). The really BIG problem is that if you so much as breathe on it, the remote thinks you’ve asked for something and does it. For example, I’m watching TV, and the cat stretches and its tail brushes against the remote. POOF the program forwards 20 minutes. Seriously?? It’s too sensitive and too slippery – and clearly designed by a MORON. As my wife and I say constantly, #stevejobsisdead

      1. They say it’s a sensitivity setting, but it’s actually for tracking speed. But yeah, if my dog even breathes near it, it does something I don’t want it to do.

  4. Our house has all tile floors and 2 kids. Anyone guess where this is going? Glass on remote was chipped and cracked on day one. Have had Logitech harmony remotes as well, for several years now. They have survived multiple drops, no issues.
    Ended up buying the protective bumper cases and the little straps that plug into charging port. No more problems, and remote is easier to hold and use in low light now. First time I ever felt need to buy proptective accessories for a remote though.
    On another note? The alphabet lined up in a straight line? Would like to meet the person whose idea that was, and punch them in the nose.

  5. I’ve used Macs since 1984. Apple’s hardware and software is exquisite, with a few exceptions. The Apple TV remote is awful, the Track Bar is a no-need, expensive gimmick, and the big, square “Bell” icon for showing the volume level that appears on iPhones and iPads that covers the movie or text on the screen is a constant irritant and totally not needed. A thin line at the bottom of the screen would serve the same purpose without obscuring the screen. Actually, I HEAR the volume level and don’t really need to SEE it!

    1. I too have used Macs since 1984. The MacBook Pro I am typing on is my thirty-second Macintosh. I must say I am not a huge fan of the remote but I completely disagree with your assessment of the Touch Bar. I find that I use the contextual buttons way more then I ever used the old function keys. F1, F2, F3… not always easy to remember what each of those do but the Touch Bar with its graphical interface is a huge improvement. BTW.. sometimes it is nice to see the volume level before you hit the play button to know if it will disturb your wife while she is sleeping next to you.

  6. not true.With a realistic volume button(+- up down) and 79 microphones, you can activate Siri with just the touch of a button.

    Sirus Revolutionized our Access to Information. Siro what is “the capital of Georgia”? Augusta. Information without representation. Facts without fiction.

    Canonical transformations that do not include the time explicitly are called restricted canonical transformations. Since Lagrangian iOS based Sirio functions cease to identification the inverted cyclic Mac Pro reverberations.

    Basically the design is so sophisticed that most people don’t understand the function of the remote. It’s ok though

  7. Apple apparently added a white circle around the Menu button (as shown in this aritcle’s photo). My older AppleTV remote has no such circle around the Menu button. I’m wondering if that white circle is actually a light that briefly comes On when the remote is touched. If so, that would be a nifty improvement to help orient the remote in a darkened room. Though there is a learning curve associated with this remote, once mastered, one is able to navigate quite a bit faster with it … provided that one can find it.

  8. Good grief, buy a $7.00 Silicone Cover solves all of the remote problems. Good grip, know what direction it’s pointing, does not slip down behind every single cushion.

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