Force Touch perfect for a new Apple TV remote?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by leukotriene, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. leukotriene, Mar 28, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015

    leukotriene macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2008
    Here's how I would design a new Apple TV remote: a gray rectangular (16:9 length:width ratio) flat chunk of handheld glass with soft edges, which acts as a trackpad. Imagine the Magic Trackpad, except shaped as a rectangular like an iPhone, with comfortable edges, and with force touch built in.

    The remote is 16:9, the same ratio as your TV, such that when you lightly touch the pad, you'll see a dot (or perhaps a 3D indentation effect, or a small area of Gaussian blur, etc.) on screen that you can use to "hover" over an on-screen button or app icon. Then when you force touch the pad, it will register a "click" to launch the app or click the on-screen button.

    And since the remote is 16:9, there is a one-to-one mapping of where your finger is on the pad and where the dot is on the screen, thus removing a layer of mental abstraction from UI interaction. This is unlike traditional trackpads, where your finger's X/Y coordinates on the physical trackpad doesn't correlate to where the cursor's coordinates on screen. In other words, when you put your finger in the top-right corner of my proposed remote control pad, then the on-TV cursor (or dot, or indentation) will be in the top-right corner. Then if you were to lift your finger and then place it in the lower left hand corner of the remote control pad, the on-screen indentation effect appear in the lower left hand corner. My point is that this behaves more like a touch UI than a mouse-cursor UI, with the difference being that merely touching the pad only *indicates* on-screen where you're hovering, and then to register a "click" you perform a force touch.

    This would essentially be a hybrid of the iOS touchscreen UI model (where the invisible "cursor" is always right below your finger) and the new force touch trackpad (which offers the advantage of creating a TV remote that's clicky and has "bumpy pixels" without having moving parts, plus allowing the user to interact with the display from a distance rather than via direct touch).

    Additionally, this could open up new possibilities for gaming controls, especially when combined with motion sensing of this remote control pad. Gyro sensors are cheap. And force touch would allow for custom gaming controls tailored for each game. Of course Siri would be integrated into this remote pad to eliminate the problems associated with across-the-room directional microphones.

    The last reason a rectangular touchpad as a remote makes sense is that it would also allow Apple to leverage this new UI paradigm with new iPhones and iPod touches that presumably will ship with Force Touch/Tapic Engine later this year. Again, the iOS Remote app on a Force Touch-capable iPhone 6S would allow the user to light touch to highlight something on-screen, then perform a force touch to register a click. This would also carry the additional benefit that existing touch-based iOS games designed for the 16:9 iPhones could be easily ported to the new Apple TV, and the problem of not being able to know what you're touching without looking down at your hands is solved by (a) keeping the remote pad the exact same 16:9 dimension as a TV set and (b) visually indicating on screen where the gamer's thumbs are currently lying, but not registering the iOS-equivalent "tap" until the gamer performs a force click.

    That's my best guess for what Apple could do with a new remote. 9to5 did say the new remote would be more tactile and capable, and with all the ballyhoo over force touch lately, I could totally see it being used for the new remote. Maybe moving the iPhone to 16:9, inventing force touch, etc. was all part of the master plan for designing a "remote touch" UI for television? Traditional trackpad-based mouse cursors suck for TV UIs, touch screen remote apps suck for TV UIs (see the official iOS Remote app), Wii-like motion remotes suck for TV UIs, and even Kinect gestures suck for TV UIs.

    Maybe the big breakthrough for TV UI is 1:1 fingerpad to TV-cursor mapping + force touch/Taptic feedback?

    Edit: just discovered an OS X accessibility feature called trackpad commander, which turns the trackpad into a 1:1 device as I describe above. It's pretty glitchy and doesn't register clicks well, but you can see Apple has at least toyed with 1:1 touchpad:screen mapping for accessibility features. It's funny, the same lack of finger-cursor coordination that a visually impaired person experiences on a Mac is somewhat analogous to the lack of finger-cursor coordination a sighted person experiences when mirroring an iOS app to TV. And force touch/Taptic feedback could solve both problems.
  2. JeffyTheQuik macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2014
    Charleston, SC and Everett, WA
    This is a lot more than I imagined... I saw the new touchpad yesterday, and when the store employee showed me the video demo (press harder to make the FF/RW go faster, the first thing I thought of was the :apple:TV, and how that remote, well, stinks.
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I guess it depends on what you want. But that sounds like a good way to turn a $70 device into a $300 device. Maybe that is the difference between a "hobby" and a "product" though? ;)

    Personally, I really like the simplicity and size of the current remote. I just wish there was a way to control the output volume (like the volume control in iTunes for example).

    Anyway, I don't want apps, cable tv packages, force touch or any of that fancy stuff. I just use my AppleTVs to access my large iTunes library and the current version does that very well at a reasonable price. If they do introduce a new fancy device, I hope they still keep the low cost basic model.
  4. leukotriene thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2008
    See I don't know. I think it's more like $150. I don't think the components are really that expensive. I would say the remote I'm proposing wouldn't be more than a $50 premium. It's a surface of glass + haptic motors + bluetooth + a hunk of battery + USB-C or lightning port for charging. That seems about $50-70 on top of the current device. None of the expensive stuff (touchscreen, A series processor, flash storage, etc.) is part of the remote. So my guess is: this new remote plus if apple upgrades the Apple TV storage to 32GB, I think altogether it would come out to $150.

    $70 for the old apple TV (or perhaps they'll just discontinue it), and $150 for new thinner apple TV with 32GB storage, 802.11AC, and a new remote. New remote and upped storage are requirements for the revamped OS, TV app store, gaming, etc. so it'll only be available for the newer ATVs.

    My best guess!

    One thing I'm really confident about: force touch has *got* to be coming to apple tv in some form. It makes too much sense. The form factor I proposed above seems the most logical.


    Yeah this is exactly what got me thinking.

    Basically what I'm proposing is a cheap iphone-sized device without all the iphone expensive internals, yet with the fine tune control of a force touch trackpad. If friends come over, they can use their iphone as a remote/gamepad, and you can use the apple tv remote that came out of the box. They're sized the same and serve the exact same functions, as long as they're 16:9 and have force touch.

    + New force touch interactions with Quicktime
    + Gurman at 9to5's report of a new apple tv remote that's more tactile and functional
    + Force touch looks to be coming to everything
    + Apple knows their remote (and everyone else's input method) sucks
    + Significantly lower apple TV price
    = where there's smoke there's fire :)

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