The tiny remote controls included with Apple TV boxes are slippery little suckers, perfect for sliding between the cushion on your couch and so thin they may be tough to locate. For those times when you can't find the clicker, having a remote app on your phone is a lifesaver.
At its World Wide Developers Conference a couple days ago Apple took the wraps off a bunch of new features for the Apple TV, among them an updated version of the venerable Remote app for iPhones and iPads.
The current version allows control of the boxes and sports the all-important keyboard, so you can use your phone to type in usernames and passwords, but hasn't been updated in a while. The all-new Remote app will be available this summer, according to an Apple representative who spoke with CNET and filled us in on some of the details.
The new app features a microphone button just like the one on the Siri remote and supports most of the Siri remote features, according to Apple's spokesperson. That means you can speak into your phone to search Apple TV and use other Siri features like "What did he say?" The app takes advantage of the phone's accelerometer to sense position and orientation, and can be turned sideways (landscape mode) to allow control of games.
Like the current Remote app, it has a large swiping area similar to the Siri remote's touchpad for navigation and selection, and there's a Now Playing window that shows artwork and playback controls. And of course, there's a keyboard for text entry, complete with dictation if you don't feel like typing on your phone.
Separately, Apple also announced a feature coming this fall as part of an Apple TV software update that automatically causes a keyboard to pop up on your phone when you start text entry on the Apple TV -- no Remote app required.