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Wednesday, June 24, 2009, 03:10 pm PT (06:10 pm ET)

Apple updates Apple TV, Remote app to allow multi-touch control [u]

Apple breathed some new life into its Apple TV media hub on Wednesday with upgrades to both its firmware and the iPhone's Remote app that let owners control the wireless media hub through multi-touch input on their handheld's touch-screen. [Updated with additional feature info.]

The combination of Apple TV 2.4 and Remote 1.3 (free, App Store) provides a new Control button that can be dragged into the bottom icon bar and serves as an alternative to the regular navigation controls on the iPhone or iPod touch.

In the main menus, users can flick or drag a finger across the screen to scroll through items; a tap selects the current item. Pressing and holding on a "menu" item moves back up one level in the Apple TV's interface.

Controls are significantly more complex within playback but mimic actions that would normally require a mouse on a computer. In testing, it works extremely well compared to both the earlier iPhone system and the Apple remote bundled with the Apple TV at first. Apple so far provides a list of the following commands:
  • Tap: play or pause the current song or video.
  • Flick left or right: skips to the next track (music), fast-forwards or rewinds (video).
  • Drag left or right: fast-forward or rewind.
  • Flick down (video only): show chapter markers, then flick left or right to skip chapters.
  • Drag two fingers left (video only): invoke a 10-second replay.


Apple TV


Update:

Apple on Wednesday evening finally got around to updating its support documents with a list of other features delivered by the Apple TV 2.4 update. They include:
  • Flickr Search: Search Flickr photo tags to find recently updated photos of interest. Save searches to quickly find new photos or use as a screen saver for Apple TV.

  • New view options: View movies By Genre, By Movie, or Unwatched. View TV Shows and Podcasts By Date, By Show, or Unwatched.

  • Updated transport and chapter modes: During video playback, click right or left to fast forward or rewind. Additional clicks increase the speed. Click down to show chapter markers.