There is a certain level of disdain for Apple TV's Siri Remote. Between its glass design, unintuitive orientation, and high replacement cost, it has left many Apple TV users looking for alternatives. Here are our picks for better Apple TV remotes.
The Siri Remote debuted with the fourth-generation Apple TV. It has an aluminum back with an all-glass top. The uppermost portion of the remote has a subtle matte finish while the lower portion is glossy.
Without looking, it can be hard to differentiate between the two, making it almost guaranteed you will have the remote facing the wrong direction when casually picking it up.
Should you ever drop the remote — whether you are just a little clumsy or you have children, the glass is prone to shattering on impact. Considering the high replacement cost — only for it to happen again — users aren't thrilled with Apple's design choices.
Apple made a small change with the Apple TV 4K which put an elevated ring around the Menu button to make it easier to orientate in your hand, but otherwise kept the same design. User outcry has been loud enough Apple is rumored to be releasing a new remote with the forthcoming Apple TV 6.
In the meantime though, users are left in the cold. To that degree, here are your best alternatives to Apple's Siri Remote and why we love them, which will all more than likely support the next-generation Apple TV should you decide to upgrade.
Apple aluminum remote
If you want to stick to Apple's first-party solutions but escape the glass-adorned Siri remote for something simple and sturdy, perhaps pick up one of Apple's previous style remotes. These remotes are all aluminum with black manually depressable buttons towards the top.
The design of the remote makes it easy to quickly identify which end is the top versus the bottom, won't shatter when dropped, has physical buttons, and is very affordable compared to others on the list.
A (free) alternative to a new physical remote is Apple's Remote app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Use this app on any of your devices to quickly control the Apple TV, as well as the TV itself if you have a newer HomeKit-equipped TV.
The app is full-featured, replicating nearly all functionality of the physical remote, and in some cases — more. For example, it is far easier to enter passwords or search with a full keyboard rather than the onscreen keyboard the Apple TV is cursed with.
Download the Remote app from the App Store for free.
SevenHugs Smart Remote
Outside of Apple's solutions, we turn to third-party products to fulfill our need for a capable, improved, Apple TV remote.
Without a doubt, our favorite third-party option is the SevenHugs Smart Remote. This touchscreen-based remote does more than Apple's could ever do. It can control your whole entertainment system setup including receiver, soundbar, TV, streaming devices including the Apple TV, and much more.
Not to mention much of your smart home. Smart devices such as Philips Hue lights, LifX bulbs, Sonos speakers, and WeMo smart plugs can all be effortlessly controlled via the Smart Remote.
SevenHugs also offers two different remotes. The basic remote can do everything outlined above but upgrading to the Smart Remote X offers up contextual awareness. You can point the remote at a light and the Smart Remote X knows what device you are intending to change and the proper controls will appear on the screen.
It is an impressive solution to the problem smart remotes have of cycling through a laundry list of controllable accessories.
When it comes to the Apple TV in particular, the Smart Remote does a great job at mimicking the Siri Remote's interface. It has a large touchpad towards the top to swipe around or tap on when navigating the UI. Below is the menu button, TV button, volume buttons, play/pause option, skip forward/back buttons, and even a full-sized qwerty keyboard shortcut.
The only thing missing is Siri voice control, which is expected on a non-Apple product.
SevenHugs' Smart Remote U and Smart Remote X start off at $199.
Another massively popular option is the Logitech Harmony lineup of remotes. What is particularly great about the Logitech lineup is there are so many options available. We are using the Harmony Ultimate One, though the newer Harmony Elite is even more capable.
You can use the remote to control your devices or you can control many of them via the accompanying Harmony app.
Harmony remotes have one of the largest catalogs of devices they support for entertainment centers but also smart home devices. It works with all the above devices that SevenHugs supports but also popular ones such as Lutron, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, August, Honeywell thermostats, and much more.
Harmony remotes have been around for ages and have continued to get better over time. The more recent app-based setup process is a huge improvement over its Mac and PC-based software, making the new models more aligned with modern devices.
They play well with the Apple TV, offering up both a touchscreen as well as physical buttons. Once again though there is no Siri support.
Another alternative is Caavo. Caavo brings all your entertainment devices together.
Connect your Apple TV and other peripherals to the Caavo Control Center you can use one remote for everything. Thanks to its massive tie ins with other devices, you can even use Alexa to tell your Apple TV to play — if you use Amazon's virtual assistant.
It will show Sonos controls on your TV, offers a universal search to go across all different apps and platforms, and unifies your TV experience. It also has its own voice search for further control, which is beneficial since Siri isn't available.
Finally, don't think about traditional remotes. Apple TV has full support for game controllers too including the PS4 DualShock controllers and the Xbox controllers.
We often use the SteelSeries Nimbus controller where you can use the directional pad or thumbsticks to navigate and go back to the menu with the button in the center. Not only are these "remotes" useful for navigating, but they are great to play games with too.
Pickup the SteelSeries, PS4, or Xbox controllers for your Apple TV.
Sit back and relax
Siri Remote does a good job at controlling the Apple TV. It just has drawbacks in its physical design. It is unintuitive, breakable, and expensive to replace.
Fortunately, the wealth of options above gives users ample opportunity to either replace a broken remote or upgrade their own for a better TV experience.
Regardless of which remote you prefer, we can all agree that Apple TV is one of the best streaming boxes on the market.