Apple TV 4K Didn’t Do Much to Fix Awful Siri Remote

2 minute read
| Editorial

Apple had an opportunity for a fresh start with the Apple TV 4K Siri remote and flubbed it.

Apple TV 4K

The black brick meets the white ring. Image credit: Apple.

The Siri remote that launched with the 4th (1080p) generation Apple TV in 2015 has been roundly criticized. And with good reason. It’s a shame that Apple didn’t remedy the worst issues as part of the new Apple TV 4K.

My opinion has been that the Siri remote is the worst Apple product since the hockey puck mouse that shipped with the original iMac in 1998. That was a truly awful mouse that drove people crazy with its physical ambiguity.

Apple gamor shot if Apple TV 4K Siri remote.

A new, white ring. The end.

The user interface defects of the Siri remote have been well documented. It’s too symmetrical. As a result, if you pick it up in the dark, you might end up trying to swipe the wrong end—which feels just like the touch surface. Moreover, it’s all too easy to inadvertently brush your finger, or something else, over the touch surface and bring up a menu that distracts from viewing. Next, it’s just too small and easy to lose. The keys are not backlit. There’s no battery LED indicator, so you have to know how to go to the Apple TV Settings to dig that info out. When the battery is depleted, it won’t be obvious what went wrong.

But hey, you could use the Siri remote on your iPhone. You could also just eat cake.

I am not alone in these observations. Before the page was removed, an average of 213 customer reviews gave it a 1.5 out of 5 rating. No less than Ken Segall, who worked with Apple in product strategy has blistered the Siri remote: “The beautifully annoying Siri Remote.” A scan around the internet produces many expressions of annoyance. Noted author Kirk McElhearn wrote me: “Abysmal. I still use an older remote.” It’s hard to find is effusive praise for this remote.

 

Siri remote customer ratings.

Siri remote customer ratings.

A Fresh Start Called For

Someone, however, at Apple must think this remote is the cat’s pajamas. Otherwise, why else would Apple stubbornly retain the design? This remote abuses the customer and annoys, and that should be enough to get Eddy Cue to make some waves. Details matter.

It took some time for Apple to fix the hockey puck mouse, even when the very critical and fussy Steve Jobs was the CEO. Big companies have a certain amount of inertia, and it might take Apple some more time to acknowledge the Siri remote design flaws.

Concerning is that the Siri remote that ships with the Apple TV 4K has a new, white ring around the MENU button. A visual orientation cue. That seems like a tacit recognition that there has been a problem, but the best the company could do was a half-baked paint job that doesn’t address all the other issues.

Legacy of Excellence

Apple has its work cut out for it when it comes to original TV content creation. Its Apple TV has fallen to the bottom of the pile in 4K OTT box market share. Roku is the go-to 4K/UHD/HDR box of choice. Apple can’t win this battle unless it’s on top of its game.

As this 4K/UHD juncture, Apple should be showing renewed signs of aggression, brilliance and attention to human interface design excellence.

2 Comments Add a comment

  1. Rootboy

    Thank you, John, for a couple really good laughs!! I love the directness and subtlety of the caption under the Remote graphic!! And “…effusive praise…”!! BTW, I hate logging in places just to leave a comment; I was motivated today. 🙂 Thanks again




    0
  2. brett_x

    I don’t understand the remote design either. It seems like something they could have and should have fixed in this revision. The puck mouse, on the other hand… I get that.
    Let me remind you of the “puck conspiracy theory”, which I generally buy into. In 1998, when the iMac was released, there were very very few USB devices. Apple had used ADB up to that point, PC’s used round PC Serial (whatever was called). Printers were either parallel (PC’s) or Apple’s proprietary serial printer port. Only one or two consumer USB printers existed.
    Apple was going to release a brand new machine with only USB ports. People were very leery of this newfangled USB. It had been out for a couple of years, but nobody was using it yet. And here, Apple was putting it on their flagship, save-the-company machine as the only method of connecting peripherals.
    The conspiracy theory is that Apple designed the USB mouse as “acceptable”, but not something that people wanted to use for very long. This was to create a market for peripheral manufacturers to produce USB devices, and include Mac drivers (or in fact, create the Mac product first, and include Windows drivers). Prior to this point, peripheral makers had to create separate devices because the serial ports were not U[niversal].
    Arguably, it’s more difficult to see this being true now than it was back then, but maybe that’s because it worked. Apple’s initial use of USB brought a revolution of new products to the market, and the world of computing peripherals has been more universal ever since.
    So, the puck did a TON of good for our world today. Either intentionally or unintentionally by poor design, Apple revolutionized the peripheral market with it.

    I don’t see how that will be the case with the TV remote, but I thought it was worth visiting a little history (as speculative as some of this may be).




    0
Add a Comment

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter, Facebook) or Register for a TMO Account