updated 09:55 am EST, Thu January 26, 2012
Would remove 'clutter' from regular remotes
A newly-published patent application, originally submitted in September, hints at some of what Apple might have planned for its rumored TV set. The filing is titled Apparatus and Method to Facilitate Universal Remote Control, and complains that most remotes need a sea of buttons to control all functions. "The controls that are not normally used clutter the remote control and can cause confusion to the user when trying to locate a seldom-used feature," Apple writes.
The company suggests that other universal remotes are even more complex than the basic remotes they replace, sometimes without covering all of the same functions. "Hence, users must spend time learning a new remote control or programming an existing universal remote each time they purchase a new remotely controllable appliance, which detracts from the enjoyment of using the appliance after it is first purchased," the application reads. "What is needed is an apparatus and a method to provide remote control over multiple appliances without the difficulties described above."
Apple suggests a remote with touchscreen interface, capable of displaying simpler, custom layouts depending on the device they want to control. Some examples include TVs, stereos, home automation, and computer MP3 or DVD playback, suggesting the possibility of iTunes support. An essential aspect of the patent is that the devices would transmit their interfaces to the remote, which would list them as options, graying out anything either turned off or out of range.
One report has suggested that the main interface for an Apple TV could be Siri, the voice command system currently restricted to the iPhone 4S. Since voice might not always be practical, though, a touchscreen remote could serve as an alternative or backup option.