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Siri voice control comes to Remote app for Apple TV this summer

The Remote app allows control of Apple TV boxes using your iPhone or iPad, and this summer it's getting a major overhaul with Siri voice support and the ability to control games.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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.

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The updated Remote app

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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.

The new Remote app will control both the new (2015) and the old (2012) Apple TV, although the many features like Siri and gaming control only work with the new box.

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.