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Universal Electronics launches new Apple TV remote for operators

Smarthome vendor Universal Electronics has launched a third-party remote for the Apple TV to operators.

Though it has emerged as a major streaming device that has been offered in partnership with telcos all over the world, the Apple TV has been widely criticised for the Siri-enabled remote which has largely remained unchanged since the release of the third generation device in 2015.

The remote, while being one of the first to feature a microphone, replaced navigational buttons with a somewhat awkward trackpad and does not have channel changing buttons.

The Universal Electronics remote looks to fix this with its new remote control that it says has been “specifically developed and designed to meet the needs of cable, satellite, IPTV and other Multichannel Video Program Distributors (MVPDs).”

The remote combines Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity with Infrared to connect with the Apple TV while also being able to control TVs and audio devices. Other features of the remote which are absent from the Apple-made controller include directional and select buttons, a channel changer, a TV guide button and a mute button. The controller also features backlit keys and also keeps the in-built microphone to interact with Siri.

The product will be exclusively available to operators, with service providers able to add their own company brand to the remote. Operators can start ordering the remote in late December, and will be able to introduce the new remote together with Apple TV 4K subject to their individual roll-out plans.

Paul Arling, CEO, Universal Electronics, said: “We’re excited that customers worldwide will soon be able to enjoy this new remote, designed specifically for the growing number of MVPDs offering Apple TV 4K to their subscribers. This remote offers convenient features to quickly access the EPG or channel surf live programming available through the MVPD’s app on Apple TV 4K.”

While it has not yet been announced, it is widely expected that Apple will introduce the next generation of Apple TV in 2021. The new device is expected to have a faster processor, an upgraded remote and other quality of life features which will further integrate it with the Apple One services bundle.