Apple TV 4K is still the best streaming device you can buy, but there’s also one button on the remote I almost never press on purpose. But that may finally be about to change.
In the latest developer beta for the tvOS platform, Apple has added a wee bit of functionality to the Siri button on the side of the Siri Voice remote. (That’s the little button on the right-hand side with a microphone.) In the production software — that is, what most folks are running today — clicking the button activates Siri, basically the same as if it were on your phone. Say “Ted Lasso,” and it’ll take you straight into the Ted Lasso show on Apple TV+ in the Apple TV app on your Apple TV 4K. Say “Opeth,” and it’ll start playing Opeth on Apple Music.
(That wording, by the way, is my repeated reminder to Apple that using the same name for a premium streaming service, the same name for the app in which that service resides, and the same name for the hardware on which you will find both of those things, is particularly silly.)
But in the latest developer beta — which is not final software by any means and is subject to change — pressing the button once opens up a search box on your television screen, and activates the microphone. You’re encouraged to speak your query, which will then look up results across supported apps, and then you choose where to go from there.
For now, unsurprisingly, things seem to be pretty contained within Apple’s apps. This all works from the home screen and appears to search across multiple apps — “Search Movies, Shows and More,” it says. It works within the Apple TV app and invites you to “Search TV.” Pressing it within the Apple Music app invites you to “Search music.” Pressing it in YouTube TV or Hulu … does nothing. That’s not a surprise, given that this feature is part of the developer beta and not in release software. (It also doesn’t yet work in Photos, Podcasts, or Arcade.)
Long-pressing the microphone button, by the way, still activates Siri as before throughout all apps.
Again, this is all subject to change. And in the back of my head, I wonder if Apple will change the microphone button on the remote to a search button instead. But for now? It’s a fun little addition, alongside the beta changes to the Apple TV app itself.
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