Apple’s next Apple TV is rumored to be breaking cover in just a few short weeks at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference it hosts in San Francisco, and said device could also come bundled with a redesigned remote control. The remote redesign will include a touch pad, according to the New York Times, which would allow people to scroll and navigate.
Apple declined to comment on the report when contacted by TechCrunch, but the design alteration could make a lot of sense, given Apple’s general input trends, the reports of what’s coming for the next version of the Apple TV, and some of the company’s most recent developments in the area of touch-based tech.
First, a touch pad could help with more advanced navigation requirements if Apple is indeed revamping the Apple TV with a full-fledged App Store and developer SDK. It could help both with UI navigation, and with working within apps, especially if we see a greater range of app types available on the streaming box – games, for instance.
Another reason it seems likely is that Apple’s touch-based input tech probably leads the industry, and it seems very eager to include it in its full range of input devices. Touch input is used in both the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, and in both cases it unlocks a number of different command and control options that aren’t necessarily available to equivalent devices from competitors.
Finally, this brings up the interesting possibility that Apple could make use of some of its newer tech in a remote redesign, specifically Force Touch and/or taptic feedback. These appear to be rolling out to new products as quickly as Apple is able to do so, with both appearing on the recent 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, as well as the MacBook and the Apple Watch. Using Force Touch on a TV remote could open up even more input flexibility, which might also be useful given the Times’ additional assertion that the forthcoming remote redesign will only have two physical buttons besides the touch pad.
Apple’s remote is also long due for a refresh; the current aluminum-bodied device was basically just a re-skin of the older, white plastic version, and a lot has changed in terms of Apple’s tech and its overall sensibilities with respect to UX over the past few years.
We should find out more June 8, when the WWDC keynote kicks off Apple’s developer event.