Buried deep inside the code for Apple’s latest mobile software — iOS 16 — is a reference to “SiriRemote4” and “WirelessRemoteFirmware.4,” according to MacRumors, which noted the discovery made by a contributor at AppleDB, an online database of Apple software and devices. Given that all previous Siri remotes (the two original touchpad editions, plus the newest silver model) have been accounted for through other references like “SiriRemote3,” the conclusion is that Apple is readying a fourth generation of this device.
Why is the the reference in a beta of iOS, when the Apple TV runs tvOS? On the one hand, it could simply be that Apple needs to keep its mobile remote functionality (which is now embedded in an iPhone’s Control Center) up to date with whatever features a new remote might offer. Or, it could be because Apple is planning to add a feature to the next Apple TV remote that would require (or at least benefit from) an iPhone. And that feature could be a detailed Find My function, courtesy of Apple’s AirTag technology.
AirTags are Apple’s coin-shaped trackers that can be attached to a wide variety of objects for the purposes of finding them if they become lost or stolen. Using an iPhone, you can get an approximate indication of an AirTag’s location, but once you’re physically closer to the tracker, ultra-wideband (UWB) technology kicks in via Apple’s U1 chips to give you a very precise guide to finding your item. You can also trigger a sound in case the tag isn’t visible. But here’s the thing: The only Apple devices that have U1 chips are recent iPhones — specifically, iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 models.
There is no U1 chip inside the Apple TV itself, so to take advantage of the ultra-precise location info in an AirTag (and thus any Apple TV remote with AirTag embedded within) you’ll need an iPhone — thus the need for iOS 16 to include Siri Remote references.
This is all speculation. Apple hasn’t indicated that it plans to add AirTag to the next Apple TV remote, and there was almost no mention of the Apple TV device or the tvOS software at Apple’s recent annual developer conference.
Still, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has indicated his belief that Apple will launch a new version of the Apple TV — one that will apparently provide cost savings to Apple, and perhaps a lower price for buyers — toward the end of 2022. I’m not convinced we’ll actually see a new Apple TV this year, but I could definitely see Apple releasing a fourth generation of the Apple TV Siri remote with an AirTag-enabled Find My function in time for the holiday buying season.
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