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. Not so much of a nightmare if you’re in a position where you can use voice. That, of course, doesn’t help you when you’re watching in a room where you have to be quiet, but, otherwise “rewind 10 seconds” or even the more vague “what did they say?” will skip back so you can try to hear what they said again. “What did they say” will also automatically turn on captioning for a few seconds so, if you still didn’t hear, you can read it.

    2. Skipping forward/back 10 seconds is done on the touch surface–while video is playing, slide thumb to one of the edges of the touch surface–the timeline will appear and you’ll see a +/- 10 near the play position. Then click, click, click for 10 seconds each time, or hold down to repeatedly skip.

      For the record, I hate the remote. A Human Being can’t tell which end is which by quickly touching, or glancing at it, especially in a dim room. It’s ok to say Apple blew it on this. Your world won’t end, and being honest with yourself might feel good for a change.

    1. The entire ring around the MENU button is raised, but, as has been said, the initial run wasn’t like that. So there are a bunch of folks that have remotes that don’t have that tactile ridge.

  1. I love the Apple remote.
    My only two complaints are 1. that I wish the shinny black side was on the upper part and that 2. it is easier to loose than the big cable remote I have. Not real complaints.

  2. The thing is, with a remote cover, the remote is fantastic. Speaking of which, with a phone cover, the lens jutting out is a non-issue. Can we just make a case that technology shouldn’t be naked and these issues are therefore negligible?** And Apple should throw in a sweet remote case?)

    **except for the fact that the remote needed a simple locator function that can be activated by a wireless network??

  3. Apple are far too keen on getting rid of buttons. Most of the time the buttons I use on my TV are power, volume and those related to changing the channel. Buttons related to other functions I’m fine to have removed because they just get in the way and are rarely used, so if you have a decent interface I’m happy to have them accessible by app, touch, etc. Those that I use all the time I want buttons for. I don’t want to be talking to my TV whilst I’m watching to tell it to nudge the volume up a bit, but with a remote I can grab it, know which button is which by feel and use it without even looking. The Apple TV remote is hard to use even if you are looking at it.

  4. I don’t like it either. The Siri part is really cool but I’m always fumbling with it — the slightest touch will set it off to some other menu, disrupting the viewing experience. So I have to caress it like a delicate butterfly. And it’s so easy to lose. Maybe I’ll try to config an old iPhone into a Siri remote.

  5. I’m not a fan boy, but the Siri remote is by far my favourite remote. I’ve had Android boxes for Kodi, I currently have an Nvidia Shield, the chargeable remote dies after a day if you don’t recharge it(The SIri remote lasts weeks), but that doesn’t matter much because I have to pair it after every use(by every use, I mean it unpairs after three or four clicks). I have to use the gaming remote which only has to be paired once a week.
    Siri remote leads by far for me on any metric. My home is a kid thoroughfare. None have had difficulty figuring out how to use it. Give me any metric; Siri remote is the best- quality, ease of use, speed of use(Have fun trying to find a scene in a movie with any Android, or even with a Blu-ray player remote).
    Favourite remote

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