The remote that Apple bundles with the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K could very well be one of the most controversial remote controls ever made. Some people hate it outright, many people tolerate it, but it seems that relatively few users actually love the design.
It’s diminutive size and touchpad navigation make it difficult to use even for some experienced users, and it’s downright inscrutable for guests who have never used an Apple TV before. From a company that’s famous for intuitive design, the Apple TV Remote sometimes feels like it missed the mark.
Now, in a move that seems very appropriate for the typically meticulous Swiss, an internet provider in Switzerland has launched an alternative Apple TV remote control for users of its television service.
Like many cable companies around the world, Swiss TV and ISP Salt has been providing customers with Apple TV set-top boxes for a couple of years as part of its home fibre broadband service. However, as MacRumors reports, a large number of Salt’s customers have apparently expressed dissatisfaction with the Apple TV Remote that comes with the Apple TV, complaining about poor usability.
However, rather than doing what many ISPs would do and simply expecting customers to live with these issues, Salt was determined to make life better for its users, and actually entered into a close collaboration with Apple to design its own version of the Apple TV remote that it could offer to its customers.
While Salt doesn’t appear to have been able to go so far as to bundle the remote with the Apple TV, customers can purchase it from the company for around 20 Swiss francs (~$20). The remote natively supports the Apple TV right out of the box, so users won’t have to go through a pairing process to use it, but it otherwise looks a lot more like an ordinary, everyday remote.
The glass touchpad from Apple’s own remote had been replaced by a more typical five-way navigation pad, with four arrow keys and an “OK” button in the centre. The “Menu” button is placed above the d-pad, and below are separate volume and channel controls, plus a mute button and a set of six playback control buttons. The playback control buttons, which include discrete rewind, fast-forward, play/pause, stop, skip-back, and skip-forward buttons mirror the functions that would normally be found on the Apple TV Remote touchpad.
The remote, which uses infrared rather than Bluetooth, can also be paired with a TV set to control volume, power, and mute (it’s a little-known fact that you can also do this with Apple’s own Apple TV Remote too if your equipment doesn’t support being controlled via HDMI-CEC).
One thing that is conspicuously missing here, however, is a Siri button and microphone, but this is likely because Apple doesn’t provide support for Siri on the Apple TV in Switzerland at all, so this button is non-functional even on the Apple TV Remote that comes with the Apple TV in that country. This is why it’s called the “Apple TV Remote” in Switzerland; it’s the same hardware, but Apple only calls it the “Siri Remote” in those countries and regions that support Siri.
Other alternatives to the Apple TV Remote (aka Siri Remote) exist as well, however. Not only does Apple still sell its older Apple TV Remote which works over infrared, but you can also use just about any other infrared remote with the Apple TV; neither option is nearly as elegant or full-featured as what Salt has designed, however.
This is likely a specific collaboration between Apple and Salt, so it seems unlikely that we’ll see this particular remote going on sale anywhere else, but it does demonstrate that it’s possible for cable providers to work with Apple to provide alternative solutions, so if you got your Apple TV from your cable provider and are frustrated with the remote, it may very well be worth at least letting them know — it was after all numerous customer complaints that convinced Salt to take this step.