It’s long been speculated that Apple’s iTV strategy would somehow involve Siri, the voice command assistant introduced with the iPhone 4S, but perhaps Steve Jobs had something else in mind. AppleInsider has uncovered a new patent, filed in September 2011, that illustrates how he may have “cracked it.”
The product described goes with the theory that only a few buttons on the average remote are commonly used by the end user (channel, volume, power), and that by moving all those other functions to the touchscreen, the clutter can be eliminated. Instead of programming manually, or downloading profiles, the remote polls the network for compatible devices, which then transmit a button profile/layout to the handset. This not only would be used for television, but smart appliances around the home, which would grey out if communication is lost (like if it only is connected to LAN or WiFi and not the internet). DVRs, MP3 players, Blu-rays or HTPCs are all used as examples of devices to be controlled.
For years, Logitech’s Harmony series have been the go-to for programmable remotes in the enthusiast community. Unlike Logitech, though, Apple has the ubiquity to actually pull something like this off, getting the hardware to support it like they’re supporting AirPlay in receivers now. Now if only the Ghost of Steve could do something to speed the tuning of digital channels to get it as fast as analog.