A Warning To Apple TV Owners

iOS Remote App IconIt looks like Apple is gearing up to take the Apple TV seriously. The price of the device dropped from $99 to $69, HBO Now will be available on Apple TV next month and there are all sorts of neat rumors about Apple TV improvements for later this year. Yet, I realized something about Apple TV features. It doesn’t matter how many channels Apple adds to the Apple TV. Without a working remote, I couldn’t access any of them. The recent Apple TV update was met with frustration.

It probably shouldn’t have taken me so long to figure out what happened. The remote had fallen into the side of my couch. With pressure from the cushion, one of the buttons was likely held down – killing the battery. When I went to turn on the Apple TV, it wasn’t working. Since my eyes don’t see infrared light, I wasn’t sure if the remote battery was dead. I’m still not sure. Maybe it’s broken. But with an iPhone camera trick, I could see that my TV remote was working. Apparently, that invisible flash is detectable with my iPhone 4. I didn’t see a flash of infrared light coming from the Apple TV remote.

While troubleshooting, I wasn’t sure if the Apple TV was broken. Maybe the update bricked my device. I was getting annoyed, wondering if I was about to throw the thing out. An Apple TV is not like an old TV, where I can just get up and use the buttons. Without a remote, the Apple TV is pretty much useless. What was I supposed to do? Should I go out in the dark, and in the rain, looking for a CR 2032 battery?

That’s the warning. If you have an Apple TV – and an iOS device – you might want to get the Remote app and set it up to work with your Apple TV. Here’s a link to the app…

  • https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/remote/id284417350?mt=8

Fortunately, I remembered that I had downloaded Apple’s Remote app. Not only can this control the Apple TV, it can actually be better than the real remote. Entering letters with an Apple TV remote is tedious, but with the App it’s a lot easier. Despite that cool feature, the app has surprisingly bad reviews. While the app is a little tricky to get used to, and it did seem a little buggy, it was enough to relax for the evening. I ended up watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on YouTube. The video entitled Municipal Violations was surprising. That’s a strange – yet informative mix – of comedy and journalism. I find that my TV viewing habits have changed because of the Apple TV. I watch far more content online than usual.

But for those of you without an Apple TV, this warning might still apply to you. There are lots of hockey puck devices, or HDMI sticks, that can make a regular TV a smart TV. But without a working remote, the smart device can get pretty dumb. Perhaps a remote app can help.

If you don’t like that idea, then stocking up on batteries is a possible alternative. Additionally, the Apple TV can also be programmed to work with a regular TV remote. So if your Apple TV remote runs out of power, gets lost or breaks, having another device setup as a contingency is helpful.