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Summary:

I have really enjoyed my Apple TV since the beginning, but I will admit that I enjoy it a lot more with the Remote application on my iPhone. Apple has updated the Remote app and the Apple TV firmware, making the Apple TV even better when […]

Remote App

I have really enjoyed my Apple TV since the beginning, but I will admit that I enjoy it a lot more with the Remote application on my iPhone. Apple has updated the Remote app and the Apple TV firmware, making the Apple TV even better when used with an iPhone or iPod touch, and perhaps showing a lasting commitment to this hobby project at 1 Infinite Loop.

While the original Remote app allowed you to browse content and use the iPhone keyboard to enter text, it did not allow you to navigate the onscreen menus. This wasn’t such a big deal when playing your own media because you could just pick the song, movie or TV show from the list of files. However, when browsing through YouTube or Flickr, it was annoying to switch back and forth between the original white Apple remote and your iPhone. The new Remote app now has additional finger gesture controls to replace traditional controls, so you can finally control everything from your iPhone or iPod touch. The update adds a few new tricks to the media player as well.

Here’s what you can do with the new app…

appletv-remote-control-screen

Video Playback

  • Flick or drag and hold to move the on-screen selection. Tap to select.
  • Tap to Play or Pause
  • Flick left or right, or drag and hold to rewind or fast-forward.
  • Flick down to show chapter markers, then flick left or right to skip.
  • Drag two fingers left for replay.

Audio Playback

  1. Tap to Play or Pause.
  2. Drag left or right and hold to rewind or fast-forward.
  3. Flick left or right for previous or next.

In addition, you can move up the menu tree by holding your finger over the bar at the bottom of the control screen.

Apple TV 2.4 Firmware

The new firmware also adds new features to the Apple TV itself.

  • Remote app directional control — Control your Apple TV with simple finger gestures via the Remote app. This feature requires Remote 1.3 running on an iPhone or iPod touch with iPhone OS 3.0.
  • 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.

Boxee, et al.

There are conflicting reports on the Boxee forums, but the media software has been successfully installed by at least one user. Some have had problems, though, so you may want to wait a day or two for things to settle out before updating. ATV files will need to be updated for the 2.4 update. I’m waiting on the USB hack to get updated myself.

Hobby?

Steve Jobs has referred to the Apple TV as a hobby business (when compared with the Mac, iPod and iPhone businesses) on more than one occasion. But this new remote app, and the Apple TV update, shows some signs of life in the group. Also telling are at least two recent openings on Apple’s employment web site for Apple TV engineers (which have since been removed). A hardware update with a faster processor and a GPU capable of decoding 1080p H.264 (and compatible with OpenCL) would go a long way towards keeping the Apple TV alive and relevant for the immediate future. It is a great device for playing music (I have thousands of songs at my fingertips with the iPhone remote that I can control from anywhere in the house), but a hardware update with improved HD video playback would make this a more compelling device.

So Happy Together

The Apple TV and iPhone were made for each other. Now that the Remote app does everything you need to fully control the Apple TV, it is just brilliant. Seriously, if you have an Apple TV, you need to go buy an iPod Touch (maybe a used one?) just to get the remote app. It’s better than using the white remote, or even a universal remote programmed to replace it.

I’ll keep my eyes posted on conflicts with Boxee and ATV Files. Let us know what your experience is with the new update.

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  1. The best part of this update that the actual performance of the Apple TV itself is much better. Previously, the ATV was like molasses…very slow to do anything, stuttering during playback, slow to pick up remote clicks. Now it is much more responsive.

    1. I agree with Neil, with the remote app it seems like ATV is rocket fast. I noticed scrolling through lists of movies was very snappy and even moving from one menu item to another was very quick.

    2. yeah.. exactly.. almost no delay..

  2. What to read on the GigaOM network Thursday, June 25, 2009

    [...] Staff | Thursday, June 25, 2009 | 9:58 AM PT | 0 comments Updated: Apple TV & Remote (The AppleBlog) How does an open-source app gain traction in a company? (OStatic) iPhone 3GS [...]

  3. Give Apple TV the Finger With Updated iPhone Remote App Thursday, June 25, 2009

    [...] gesture controls, letting you run everything on the set-top box from your iPhone or iPod touch. The Apple Blog has the full story, but here are a few of the [...]

  4. Any word if the “Group compilations when browsing” option that iTunes has will be added to the Apple TV? I’ve been holding out on purchasing an Apple TV because I don’t want to have scroll through a thousand artists. This is an issue for Front Row as well.

  5. Does the new remote allow the rating of songs in the iTunes library? I do a lot of listening from my Apple TV and often want to rate a song when I’m listening to it on my couch. I never remember to rate songs when I’m at my computer.

  6. Well, until recently (just after June Safari & Tiger updates) I was able to download FORA.TV programs in MP4 format (many of which also are available on ITunes Vodcasts), transfer them to ITUNES on my old MAC PPC (10.4.11), and they would sync to Apple TV. I’d rather watch them on my TV than my computer.

    Recently, the programs started loading to a new window of Safari, which displays a Quicktime logo. I can drag it to the desktop and load it into ITUNES movies, but it does not sync with Apple TV. The same thing happens with Firefox on the MAC. A browser under Ubuntu also loads the file into a ‘Quick Time window.’

    The new Apple TV update did my fix my problem. Converting downloaded MP4 files into M4V (Apple TV files) with Quicktime Pro does work, but running a compute to compensate for an excessively closed Apple TV system doesn’t seem like much of a bargain.

    There is no copyright issues with what I want to do, just use restriction from Apple.

  7. Weldon Dodd Monday, June 29, 2009

    Just wanted to check back in and report that I have the USB hack running on 2.4. My 1TB AppleTV is even better with the new remote app.

    1. Hi,
      I also hacked 2.4 with patchstick-Boxee-NitoTv. I can access my external HD through “files” on the apple tv Menu but what I really want to do is make my apple tv use my external HD as it’s primary storage. I’ve seen many articles and blog’s on how to do this with older versions like 1.0 and 1.1 but nothing more recent. Everything I’ve tried so far has not worked. Even though I’ve got this far the Terminal program and running scripts and code is like Chinese to me. Can someone explain how to do this like I’m a 2 yr. old.

  8. Weldon Dodd Friday, July 10, 2009

    @Scott – you want to use the following commands to point the media storage folders to your external drive. First step is to ssh into your AppleTV from Terminal.app (type “ssh frontrow@appletv.local” – password is “frontrow”) and then type the following commands, replacing the with the correct volume name.

    cp -R /mnt/Media/* /mnt/Scratch/Volumes/
    sudo mv /mnt/Media /mnt/Media.org
    sudo ln -s /mnt/Scratch/Volumes/ /mnt/Media

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