Although all of the talk surrounding Cupertino currently centers on Apple’s iPhone, I can’t get the company’s television out of my head. I own an iPhone and have an iPad. And although I’ll likely buy Apple’s next handset, it’s the company’s television that has me drooling.
Based on the reports surrounding Apple’s television at the moment, I can all but guarantee that I’ll be buying one. I love the idea of iCloud integration and I firmly believe that it’ll come with an App Store. Better yet, it’ll deliver high-quality visuals that should make its competition reevaluate their future decisions.
The only thing I don’t like hearing, though, is talk of Apple requiring iPhone and iPad owners use their mobile devices to control the television. Yes, it’s a forward-thinking idea, but it’s a bad one.
The fact is, we can use the iPhone and iPad as a remote right now. On my Apple TV, for example, I can control everything the device does with Apple’s nifty Remote app. But that Remote app is designed for a simple box and even simpler functionality. The remote’s featureset just won’t translate to a sophisticated television.
Like it or not, today’s remotes, as ugly and big, and old school as they might be, are a necessary evil. Physical buttons that light up at night make it easy for us to choose a channel, increase the volume, and perform other activities. And with some help from a physical keyboard built into some of those remotes, we can quickly type out just about anything.
"Using the iPhone as a remote will take us back in time"
A touchscreen-based remote, however, tends to fall short. For one thing, we’ll always need to be looking down just to find out what buttons we need to press. And our current practice of sliding our finger over to a button based on muscle memory alone will be gone. Using the iPhone or iPad as a remote in some ways will take us back in time.
That said, I can see some value in using an iDevice to control my new Apple television. I like the idea of using it to type in credentials into an application or even making it a secondary screen that delivers more information than what’s on the television. For example, if I’m watching a baseball game, it would be great if that broadcast shipped over to my iPhone – likely through an additional application running on the handset – some information on the batter, who’s up next, and other key data.
But as a remote, I don’t see much value in the iPhone and iPad. Apple can certainly create some nifty applications and I won’t deny that the company has come up with features that have blown us away. But controlling a television is very basic and needs some physical buttons. A mobile device featuring only a touchscreen just won’t get it done.
Ditch plans for the iDevices controlling your televisions, Apple. The future is still in the past with physical remotes.