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Apple TV Remote App Inspired Steve Jobs to Make Original Siri Remote

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Apr 12, 2001
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Last week Apple removed the Apple TV Remote app from the App Store, given that the app's functionality has been baked into the Control Center on iPhone and iPad since iOS 11. Following the Remote app's discontinuation, a former Apple engineer took to Twitter to share some interesting details about the app's original development.


Alan Cannistraro writes that he began writing the app in 2006 before he even saw the first iPhone user interface, and instead used his own UI elements to begin with. The former designer explains that the Remote app was Apple's first production app that the App Store team used to "test their upload flow" to the Store, and while it only shipped with iTunes and Apple TV controls, early prototypes were a lot more functional.
While we shipped it only with iTunes and Apple TV control, my prototype also allowed me to turn on/off lights, TVs and Receivers (via an IR adaptor), and save and resume a room’s state as a "Scene".

A year later (2009) I had also built prototypes in Remote that would let your phone touchscreen be your mouse for your computer, and to interact with photos, applications (the original TouchBar) and screensavers on your Mac.

I was pitching a larger idea around device communication that never got off the ground (too early?). Predecessor to HomeKit & AirPlay. I had devices from Denon, Marantz, Sharp that spoke a protocol I designed so you could turn them on/off, change inputs and volume, tone, etc.
Another prototype Cannistraro designed in 2009 turned the iPhone's touchscreen surface into a computer mouse, and also offered a way for Mac users to "interact with photos, applications (the original TouchBar) and screensavers."

Cannistraro says he showed the app to then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was so impressed with the way it let you control the Apple TV with swipes and gestures that he wanted the next hardware Apple TV remote to work similarly.
In 2010, I sat down with with Steve to show him how Remote controlled Apple TV with swipes, and he said, “our next Apple TV Remote should be this without a screen”. It took five years (lots of stuff paused when Steve died), but eventually Siri Remote came out and was just that.
On reflection, Cannistraro says he believes the "ultimate vision" for Remote still hasn't been realized, and that smart home control remains a "disjointed experience" on any ecosystem. "HomeKit and Alexa are getting us closer," he says, "but there is still much to do to make the rooms we live in into elegant, ambient, intelligent experiences. Working on it."
You can check out Cannistraro's TV Remote app comments in full using this Thread reader link.

Article Link: Apple TV Remote App Inspired Steve Jobs to Make Original Siri Remote
 

ksec

macrumors 65816
Dec 23, 2015
1,468
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(lots of stuff paused when Steve died)

Pretty much sums up all our problems.

Cannistraro says he believes the "ultimate vision" for Remote still hasn't been realized, and that smart home control remains a "disjointed experience" on any ecosystem.

I just wish they have a simple Apple TV SE where they give us back the original simple remote. Or something even better, actually make an Apple TV set that is privacy focused. No Data Collection and no injected Ads.
 
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rmoliv

macrumors 65816
Dec 20, 2017
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I love the Siri remote. Don’t get why so many people dislike it. Maybe they prefer those huge blocks that usually come with TVs... by the way you can use some of them with Apple TV. My LG Magic remote works with Apple TV, still I prefer the Siri remote.
 
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JBGoode

macrumors 6502a
Jun 16, 2018
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I love the Siri remote. Don’t get why so many people dislike it. Maybe they prefer those huge blocks that usually come with TVs... by the way you can use some of them with Apple TV. My LG Magic remote works with Apple TV, still I prefer the Siri remote.

It's too small, too slippery, and too sensitive. An accidental nudge with my foot will frick up what I'm watching and I'm pretty sure that on several occasions I didn't even touch it and the breeze from my hand or a fart set it off.

That's why I don't like it.

(I do like the idea of it, but the implementation leaves something to be desired. It's a perfect example of form over function.)
 
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polyphenol

macrumors 6502
Sep 9, 2020
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Wales
I love the Siri remote. Don’t get why so many people dislike it. Maybe they prefer those huge blocks that usually come with TVs... by the way you can use some of them with Apple TV. My LG Magic remote works with Apple TV, still I prefer the Siri remote.
At least some of the huge blocks had symbols you could actually read on them.

We currently use two different remotes. One is quite a few years old and easy to read all the characters on it. The other is new and almost indecipherable. Yes, age does make a difference, I cannot now read microtext like once I could. But my eyes are pretty good and I still struggle. Partner is worse off having more difficulty reading. Especially if the lights are not full on.

The old one also has more variety of key shapes and colours.
 
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jayducharme

macrumors 68040
Jun 22, 2006
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The thick of it
The iPhone version of the remote is simple and intuitive. Notice the Menu button is at the bottom, which immediately tells you the orientation. But when that's distilled down onto a much smaller surface -- and one which has no obvious orientation -- then it becomes unusable. I'm fairly convinced that when Jobs made his "We've cracked it!" comment about the TV user interface, he was talking about the Siri remote, using your voice to control the experience. But that still doesn't seem to have been fully implemented. Siri still struggles with too many simple things.
 
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Apple Knowledge Navigator

macrumors 68000
Mar 28, 2010
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It’s not surprising there’s disconnect - a lot of ‘smart home’ tech is trying to provide a solution without a problem.

I recognise there are many cases were this technology serves a good purpose, particularly with those who are disabled or want to control their home whilst they are away, but I just feel that traditional tech remains convenient.
 
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Paradoxally

macrumors 68000
Feb 4, 2011
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I love the Siri remote. Don’t get why so many people dislike it. Maybe they prefer those huge blocks that usually come with TVs... by the way you can use some of them with Apple TV. My LG Magic remote works with Apple TV, still I prefer the Siri remote.

It's way too small. I feel like I'm holding a remote for ants. And any kind of accidental swipe triggers the touchpad because it's quite sensitive.
 
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hbko

macrumors newbie
Aug 18, 2020
2
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Belgium
I really like the remote. The swipe gesture is definitely more fun to use than pressing buttons and also seem more intuitive. One aspect that's bothering me with the current mode is the size. It's just too small. We constantly "misplace" the remote in between the pillows of the sofa... Often during a movie the TV controls would activate (e.g. pause, volume change, fast-forward etc) because suddenly someone is sitting on the remote without noticing and it's very hard to find it in the dark :).
 
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Nippi2000

macrumors newbie
Sep 1, 2016
29
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Far East
I must be in the extreme minority, but I love using the Siri remote (geez that even sounds sarcastic).

Seriously, its simple, I know where the buttons are without looking, quick volume access, and very smooth scrolling, srubbing, etc.

You know where the buttons are, when you might hold it upside down? You have acquired some serious talents. Well done!
 
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