Salt, a Swiss telecommunications company that provides a free Apple TV 4K to its subscribers as the primary way for accessing the company’s Salt TV service, has done the unthinkable: It has second-guessed the product design wisdom of former Apple design honcho Jony Ive, and is now selling its own alternative remote control for the Apple TV. It sells for 19.95 Swiss francs (about $20 USD) and is only available at Salt’s Swiss retail locations.
The Apple TV 4K ships with Apple’s Siri remote, a small, flat device that uses a touchpad as its primary way of navigating the tvOS interface. Not everyone finds this easy. Successfully moving around the screen requires swiping motions using your thumb, and these swipes can often lead to unpredictable results. It can be especially difficult to use the Siri remote to navigate Apple’s on-screen keyboard when text entry for user names and passwords is required.
Salt TV’s “alternative” remote looks just like a conventional remote, replacing Apple’s touchpad with a standard 4-way D-pad plus center OK button. Users also get dedicated buttons that make navigating Salt TV’s tvOS application easier, like skip forward/back and Salt’s upper and lower live program function. It reminds us of the newly reworked Nvidia Shield TV remote control.
Curiously, despite the fact that Apple TV 4K remotes have a dedicated microphone button for talking to Siri, the Salt TV remote does not. It’s been speculated that this is because Apple doesn’t support Siri in Switzerland yet. Salt claims the new remote comes ready to work with existing Apple TVs and can be configured to control other products, too, thanks to its infrared emitter. However, this could mean that there’s no onboard Bluetooth, which would require users to keep their Apple TV 4K within line of sight, and not tucked away in a cabinet.
MacRumors claims that Apple had a hand in designing the Salt Alternative Apple TV remote, though Digital Trends hasn’t been able to verify this. If it’s true, it’s possible that Apple might start selling its own version of the alternative remote, but if it did, it would likely cost more and it would include Bluetooth in order to power the Siri voice control experience.
It’s worth noting that all Apple TVs have infrared receivers. They can be controlled by any programmable IR remote control, as well as remotes like the Logitech Harmony Elite which uses Bluetooth. As with the Salt remote, you’ll lose the ability to access Siri; however, you can also use Apple’s remote app for iOS to gain back this functionality on an iPhone or iPad.
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