What is it?
The Apple TV Remote App has been a long-time personal favorite. It uses an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad (upscaled with the previous release) to create a remote control for your Apple TV or iTunes playlist over wifi. Even cooler, the fact that you can sync it to multiple devices, meaning it could be connected to several computers or perhaps Apple TV units.
The best thing about the App was that it eliminated the need for that little Apple remote that came packaged in with the set-top box. It was great for navigation, but anyone who has used it knows that it's a nightmare to type with. The Remote App let you type with the iOS onscreen keyboard, which shaved off a lot of time for doing searches.
Still, it's been a long time since the software was released. So long, in fact, that there wasn't a universal version for iPad compatibility. If you wanted to use it on the iPad, you had to either deal with the small display, or use the horrible upscaling.
So what's new?
Well, just in time for Apple's next generation of their still-not-so-popular set-top box, Apple has released an update to their software remote, and it's every bit as awesome as the first, and then some.
Aside from some minor changes, such as the new icon and the addition of the updated iTunes logo, there are a few changes with the interface itself, mainly in the way the user navigates and the addition of a Play/Pause button in the lower right corner. The "Done" button now takes the user to the playlist. When controlling iTunes, the user can now edit and create playlists through their iOS device as pictured below:
The other notable change is the AirPlay support. While controlling your iTunes playlist, you can now have Apple TV (or another AirPlay compatible device) act as an extra set of speakers.
Also new is the Home Sharing. This automatically finds iTunes libraries and Apple TVs that have the feature turned on. This eliminates the hassle of having to input the little numeric code for each device you want to sync. So long as they are on the same network, it will connect.
While at it, take a look at the new control panel, which has received some minor updates:
This second set of photos serves two purposes: One is to show you how the App looked on the iPad before the upgrade, and the second shows the older interface (which was identical to the iPhone, just upscaled):
It's on iPad too?
That's right, and it's built for the iPad. This is hands-down the biggest update to the software, and it looks great on the iPad. Actually, it reminds us somewhat of the iTunes interface with the way it's laid out. The biggest addition to this one is the larger keyboard. Now you can type in landscape mode and use the nearly full-size keyboard to do searches. Sure, it may not be as handy as your iPhone, but if you keep your iPad on the coffee table, then this is no doubt the most awesome way to control your Apple TV. Nothing beats the full keyboard.
Here are some screens:
Oh yeah! Landscape keyboard…iPad-sized:
Well, the App is free, so it would be silly for us not to recommend it if you, especially if you have Apple TV or plan on getting the newer model. The added functionality such as the ability to create playlists from your iOS device and the AirPlay support is a huge plus. Users with an Apple TV, or even those who plan on buying the 2nd-gen box, should get this one. They are doing themselves a huge favor by doing away with typing on the stock Apple Remote. At the amazingly low price of free, there is no reason not to pick it up. It beats the packaged in remote by a longshot.
Score: 5 out of 5. Download it!
Download the App Here: Remote on App Store