This morning, my software update queue was full of goodies.
After the updates, the first App I downloaded was the Apple Remote.
Flat out brilliance.
Much like pairing the Apple TV with iTunes, you enter a 4 digit pin number displayed on your iPhone (or iPod touch) on the Apple TV.
Once paired, the user interface is very similar to the iPod UI. Playlists, artists, songs, etc… select what you want to play… displays art work, yada yada.
And in well fell swoop, every other remote (there are 5, if you include two Apple IR Remotes) was obsoleted.
Having bi-directional, fully stateful, communication between the remote and the media playback device is a gigantic game changer. It means that the remote can actually meaningfully tell you what is going on and and can provide UI pertinent to the context implied therein.
That is, you can touch your music, scrub a track with your finger, flick through a playlist and otherwise get your fingers right into your media playback.
You can even update ratings. For me, being able to update ratings is a huge feature. I have smart playlists that put together random selections of tracks over a certain rating, in a certain genre, that I haven’t heard in a while. It creates a set of personalized radio stations out of my music collection. And now it’ll be even more effective because I’ll be rating many more tracks much more quickly!
This changes the game in my living room. Completely. My media center’s remote is now more powerful than any computer I bought in the 1990s. And every one of my friends who has a similar device can now be a DJ.
It isn’t perfect. At the moment, it doesn’t appear that you can play rental material from the remote interface and you can’t create on-the-go playlists. Nor can you set ratings when controlling an Apple TV (but that is an Apple TV limitation).
Sure, as one commenter pointed out, there are other products that offer this style of remote control.
But I don’t want an expensive, dedicated, limited capability, complex remote with a shoddy user interface. I want the power of a computer to control my media playback. In my hand. Only I don’t want to know it is a computer — I want it to just work. With a high quality user experience and seamless network integration.
You people have dirty minds! The !Adult smart playlist merely filters out all songs for which the word adult appears in the comments. For example, Nine Inch Nail‘s Closer has adult in the comments and will never play when that playlist is selected.