Has the Siri Remote Doomed the Apple TV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by fpnc, Feb 1, 2016.

  1. fpnc macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    Probably not, but with so many people saying that they "hate" the new remote you have to wonder what Apple will do to correct these misgivings with the next revision of the product.

    I'm going to come right out and say it, the touch surface on the Siri remote has got to go.

    What I'm concerned about is that Apple may introduce features that will depend exclusively upon the remote's touch surface and that could mean that it will become doubly difficult for Apple to eliminate the touch surface in future product updates. That is, could they ever go back to a simple button interface?

    So, what can be done at this point? We could hope for some type of software update to improve the usability of the touch surface, but frankly I think that would just be putting a band-aid over something that never should have happened in the first place.

    I know, this post is probably going to get comments from people who think the touch surface on the remote is "great" and a true innovation. But that really won't help those of us who literally cringe each time we have to reach for or use the Siri remote. For those people, even if they are somewhat in the minority, something has to change is a BIG way.

    My recommendations would be the following:

    1.) Apple should avoid introducing any new features that depend exclusively upon the touch surface. Yes, planned obsolescence.

    2.) Offer an option to turn off the touch surface and just use the existing area as a big button with up/down and left/right implemented at the edges of the existing surface. With that they could reimplement some of the features of the old button-controlled remote, like the ability to trigger a fast scroll simply by holding down on the "button."

    3.) Apple should consider doing something that I think they've never done before, a limited-cost trade-in program for a newly designed remote. The new remote would also improve the remote's physical design, easier to hold, easier to orient, more rugged, and with simple buttons rather than a touch surface. Yes, that's BIG but I think it could go a long way in restoring faith in the Apple TV product. So, spend a few tens of millions to replace the existing remote and then cut back on the stock options and other benefits that you've traditionally rewarded to the high-level decision makers at Apple -- because, quite frankly, many of the decisions of late haven't been that good.

    4.) Begin a crash course on improving the voice features on the remote, this could probably mitigate some of the issues with the usability of the device. It is, after all, called the Siri Remote.

    Okay, so that's one person's opinion, and I know there will be others. Frankly, I doubt whether Apple will reverse course on the touch surface, so in conclusion I'll ask if anyone has any good suggestions on what could possible be done to improve the current touch-based interface.
  2. m7ammed macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    Saudi Arabia
    I've never owned an ATV and the ATV4 is my first one which I got a few days back. I love the remote! My wife is a very non Tech person and she was amazed by it.

    From your post I really can't tell what you feel is wrong with the remote. You keep saying it is bad and there are misgivings but never point out what they are. Can you please elaborate?
  3. off_piste macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2015
    I own two Apple TV fours and love the remotes. I don't get the bitching about them.
  4. fpnc thread starter macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    You don't have to go by what I say, just look at the thread on "Things I hate about the new AppleTV." About every third post includes a statement like "I hate the remote." Based upon my own use of the device and the comments I've seen here on MacRumors I'd say the remote is by far the most commonly criticized feature on the new Apple TV.

    Meanwhile, the previous remote that used a D-pad type control was routinely praised for its ease of use and simplicity of design.

    Problems with the touch pad feature:

    1.) Hard to control and imprecise steps. Have you ever overshot something as simple as a left/right scroll to select an item, if not then I suspect that you haven't used your Apple TV that much.
    2.) Unintentional actions initiated with a simple touch to the remote.
    3.) Design restraints enforced by the touch pad surface itself. Why do you think the remote is so symmetrical? I suspect it is largely because they had to use that layout to accommodate the touch pad.
    4.) Intermittent or inconsistent results when attempting a click/select versus a left or right button press or scroll.
    5.) Intermittent or inconsistent results when attempting an up/down button press or scroll.
    6.) No way to initiate a fast scroll using the touch pad (this could be fixed in software, but it's still something that was handled much better by the previous remote).
    7.) The touch pad can shatter if the remote is dropped onto a hard surface.

    What all of the above means is that you really never know with 100% certainly what is going to happen with you try to use the touch pad. That's a HUGE failure on something that should be a complete no brainer in operation. Why should you ever struggle for even a fraction of a second when all you want is a relaxing, lean-back experience with your media or TV?
  5. m7ammed macrumors regular

    Apr 21, 2010
    Saudi Arabia
    Comments on your points:

    1. I have yet face this but maybe as you said it could be that I haven't used it enough yet. But I would think this could fixed with a software update and calibrating the remote. I actually changed the remote "Touch Surface Tracking" to fast and I like it. Might try other settings.
    2. I had this but this could also happen with any remote. I've always sat or accidentally pressed a button on remotes which lead to changing a channel.
    3. Actually me and wife looked and the remote, and she made a comment "Too much unused space on the bottom of the remote" but looking at it id you remove the bottom space, it would be : hard to hold the remote as it would be too short, the size is optimal for relaxed thumb placement on the touch pad.
    4. Have to use it more to see if I face this issue.
    5. Have to use it more if I face this issue.
    6. As you said a SW update could solve this
    7. This is the same argument used on the iPhone 4/4s, I don't find it valid at all, and can be solved by buying a guard. So the remote stays beautiful for people who are not afraid to drop it.

    I wonder if most of the people complaining are previous gen users and they are having a hard time adjusting to the new remote. It would be instersing if a poll was made with these options:

    1- New to ATV, and I love the Siri Remote
    2- New to ATV, and I hate the Siri Remote
    3- Ownder previous ATV, and I love the Siri Remote
    4- Ownder previous ATV, and I hate the Siri Remote
  6. Mac... nificent macrumors 6502

    Nov 20, 2012
    Same here. I love the remote and how it works.

    Some people just have to bitch about things to make themselves feel good :rolleyes:
  7. Cnasty macrumors 68030


    Jul 2, 2008
    I think the remote is fantastic. I will say I hope for some updates within the apps to be optimized for voice search such as I have on my Nvidia Shield within Youtube for instance. I think the remote is a major upgrade from the 3, is lightweight, and feels great in the hand.

    I am not sure what type of remote people expect in a set top box such as these. Look at the competitors and they are all fairly similar and the ATV remote adds touch which I love for scrolling.

    To each their own though.
  8. jedisaga macrumors 6502


    Apr 24, 2008
    Havertown, PA
    I concur. I love my ATV4 and the Siri remote. Sorry to hear a lot of folks having issues, but I'm perfectly fine.

  9. applied2 macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2013
    I don't hate the remote for the reasons you may think.

    I believe the touch interface is great. My issue lies with the way my hand falls on the remote and the shape of it. If it was thicker and contoured, more like the Roku remote, then I think it'd be great.

    I also think the 'Home' button should be placed at the top because to me it's not obvious it's a home button, and I would relabel the Menu as 'Back.'
  10. jdag macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2012
    I am 50/50 on the remote. I do like some of the capabilities, but do find the touch surface problematic, mainly when activating it just by picking up the remote.

    Anyhow, I use my Harmony remote as the main controller anyhow. It works very well, with a couple of minor incompatibilities (i.e. - no Siri, which I never use anyhow, even on my phone).

    So if you are so against the remote, and I don't blame you if you are:

    1) Sell it on eBay for ~$50 and buy a Harmony 650 (which will have many advantages beyond just for the ATV)

    2) Try grabbing the old style remote and using it for a bit (I haven't tried it, but would suspect it will work for 95% of the functions you need with the ATV4, aside of course form Siri)
  11. profmatt macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2015
    I've occasionally found the Siri remote annoying, when I've accidentally brushed my finger over it, but mostly I like it. Indeed, when I'm using my Amazon Fire TV remote I find myself running my finger across it and being disappointed that I have to click buttons instead.

    I'd rather Apple spend time sorting out iTunes, which is bloody awful, or making Siri on the ATV actually do something useful. With the exception of "what did he just say", I find Siri almost completely useless.
  12. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Capabilities are fine, once you have the remote in hand and oriented correctly. I have no issues with that part of it. But the fact that it is nearly impossible to pick up without triggering an action is absolutely ridiculous. I can't tell you how many times I've turned my entire tv system on because I tried to move the remote (with HDMI-CEC touching the remote turns everything on). Or scrubbed forward or back in a movie. Heck, the remote is so sensitive it can sit on your couch, it slips under a pillow, and you change position of how you are sitting and the remote will activate.

    Maybe some people live in perfectly staged Dwell houses 100% of the time and never have kids guests or clutter and only place their Apple remote on their Eames coffee table oriented in perfect alignment with the latest issue their house is featured in. But for the rest of use the Apple remote is a design disaster.
  13. off_piste macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2015
    This sounds like user error. I don't have those problems and I have a 2 1/2 year-old that runs and jumps on our couch, ottoman and end table. Plus a dog. I don't have a cat and I know those are evil bastards so maybe that's the difference.

    I can understand having gripes about the remote because nothing will please everyone but to claim it is a design disaster is completely over the top.
  14. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Yes. I'm 'picking it up wrong...'

    What a crock.

    Let me ask this. Do you use the HDMI-CEC function?
  15. off_piste macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2015
  16. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    So any light inadvertent touch to the wrong half of the remote will turn everything on. That's irritating and could be rectified by only allowing that to happen by physically pressing a button. Like every other remote ever created. This happens several times a week when someone in the family goes to move the remote. That's not 'user error.'
  17. off_piste macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2015
    Mine doesn't turn on my system by simply touching the trackpad. You have to actually click it. Like a button press.
  18. MacFanBoi macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2009
    Apple will never get rid of the touch part of the remote because it is needed for games available on the tvos app store so that will never change. Anyone that hates the new apple tv remote can easily go out and buy the old apple tv remote and use that instead.
  19. RadioGaGa1984 Suspended


    May 23, 2015
    I too love the new remote. Works great. I've had no issues. And I use my ATv exclusively for television everyday.
  20. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Well perhaps there are differences in how much pressure individual remotes require to activate a click, but ours is so sensitive you cannot possibly pick it up off a surface from the touch pad end without triggering a click. Even being aware of the issue and trying to pick up the remote extremely carefully usually results in a stray click.
  21. ImageStealer macrumors newbie


    Dec 16, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Overall, I like the system. Only thing I am not happy with is the slipperiness of the remote, but a case will fix that.
  22. off_piste macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2015
    You might consider picking up a new remote from the Apple Store to see if it operates any differently. You can always return it if no operating difference or you qualify for warranty replacement. I just messed with mine swiping around on the trackpad etc and it didn't turn on my equipment.
  23. ipedro macrumors 601


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    OP, this thread didn't turn out quite like you wanted it to right?

    I'll add my voice to the chorus: I love the new remote. It's not perfect, but the touch surface is the closest thing to touching the screen. It works well now and it has a lot of potential going forward. Some small UI adjustments can be made to more closely mirror finger mapping to the screen but the remote itself is fine.

    I do agree that the remote can be sensitive and that at first it's easy to mix up the orientation, but both of those are fixed by adopting different habits and getting used to the feel of the remote. I no longer leave the remote on the couch. It sits on a side table so I never inadvertently tap it when I don't want to. I've also become better acquainted with the feel of the remote and no longer mix up up/down.
  24. fpnc thread starter macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    Not really, I said in the original post that I knew there would be posts from users saying that the remote was "great."

    However, even if 10% of the users don't like the Siri remote that is still a serious design problem for something that should operate without a hint of concern. Look at it this way, you never heard such strong and frequent complains about the previous Apple TV remote, the one that used a few buttons and a D-pad. The reason is simple, the previous remote worked flawlessly and was essentially foolproof (dictionary definition: incapable of going wrong or being misused).

    The responses suggesting that people who don't like the remote should get a third-party remote, or get a case for the remote, or that we should adapt ourselves to using the Siri remote, or that we should be careful when we pick it up are all just proving my point. A remote just shouldn't require that much care and attention.

    Lastly, I think some are overlooking the obvious design flaws in the Siri remote just because they really like some of the other features, such as the Bluetooth interface, the dual IR/Bluetooth control, the volume control buttons, the HDMI-CEC, the rechargeable battery, and Siri voice input. Yes, those are all nice features, but NONE of those require that the remote have the fiddly touch interface.

    Simply put, bring back the D-pad, improve the shape of the remote, and enhance the Siri interface and you'd have a clear winner.

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