If you use the Apple TV Remote found in your iPhone’s Control Center, there’s a hidden surprise you’ll like with the iOS 16 update — one that lets you use the remote without ever having to open Control Center.
You can use the Apple TV Remote to control media playback on your Apple TV or smart TV with AirPlay 2 connectivity. Apple TV (3rd generation) and newer models should already be usable with Apple TV Remote on your iPhone. AirPlay 2-compatible smart televisions must be added to your Home app in an assigned room before you can use Apple TV Remote to control them.
It’s a simple tool to adjust volume levels, navigate menus, play and pause media, change channels, perform searches, and control other essential things. But on iOS 15.7 and earlier, you can only open Apple TV Remote from Control Center. Not even Siri, App Library, or Spotlight Search can help you. Closing the remote will take you back to Control Center.
On iOS 16.0 and later, the Apple TV Remote acts more like an app than a simple control in Control Center. When you’re using Apple TV Remote and change to another app, you can use App Switcher to recall the remote whenever you need it — just like you can with any other app.
While App Switcher support is a massive gain for when you need to multitask, you still can’t open Apple TV Remote from Siri, App Library, or Spotlight Search. And Apple TV Remote will eventually disappear from your iPhone’s app switcher after a period of no activity.
But Apple TV Remote has a secret beyond being supported in your iPhone’s app switcher, a secret many of you have probably never thought possible: you can turn it into an app.
OK, it’s already an app and technically always was since it’s had its own .app file in iOS’s hidden application list, just like Code Scanner and Print Center. What’s different is that Apple finally assigned a URL scheme to Apple TV Remote.
If you don’t know what a URL scheme is, think of a regular webpage URL or a link on a webpage to email somebody via your default email app. The http:// or https:// start of a webpage URL indicates a web resource using Hypertext Transfer Protocol or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, while mailto:// indicates a hyperlinked email address you can click or tap on to start a draft in your email client.
App developers can assign custom URL schemes to their apps and submit those apps to the App Store. Running the scheme alone in a web browser or from any other app would open the app if it’s installed on the device. You can add special parameters to the scheme to perform specific actions within the associated app.
Apple gives many of its own apps URL schemes, such as Calculator (calc://), Camera (camera://), FaceTime (facetime://), Find My (findmy://), Fitness (fitnessapp://), Music (music://), and News (applenews://). And with iOS 16.0 and later, Apple supports tvremote:// for Apple TV Remote.
With an assigned URL scheme, you can build a simple shortcut in your Shortcuts app that opens the URL scheme, which opens Apple TV Remote. You can then use that shortcut with Siri, add it to your home screen or app library, and find it via Spotlight Search. And making the shortcut is simple:
- Start a new shortcut from the Shortcuts tab.
- Add the “URL” web action.
- Change apple.com to tvremote:// in the URL action box.
- Add the “Open URLs” web action.
- Tap (v) next to the shortcut’s name, choose “Rename,” and give it a new name, such as “Open Apple TV Remote,” which also doubles as the Siri command.
If you only want to use Siri or Spotlight Search to open Apple TV Remote, you can tap “Done” to save the shortcut at this point. But if you want to give it an app icon for Home Screen and App Library, change the shortcut’s current icon.
Tap the current icon next to the shortcut’s name to open the icon picker. You can also tap (v), then “Choose Icon.” You can pick any icon and color you want, but the Apple TV icon may be the most appropriate. Save it with “Done.”
Now, let’s add it to Home Screen and App Library for easier, faster access. Tap (v) next to the shortcut’s name and choose “Add to Home Screen.” Alternatively, you can tap (i) in the toolbar, followed by “Add to Home Screen.”
It will default to using the shortcut’s icon as the bookmark icon shown for Home Screen and App Library, which should be good since we already changed it. But you can also tap the icon to pick another image from Camera, Files, or Photos. Since “Open Apple TV Remote” is pretty long for a Home Screen icon name, try it sans “Open.” You can also ditch “Apple” if you want a sleeker presentation.
When you tap “Add,” you’ll jump to the new icon on your home screen. Before using it, go back to the Shortcuts app and hit “Done” on the shortcut to make sure it’s saved to your library.
Whether you stopped after Step 1 above or not, you can ask Siri to “Open Apple TV Remote,” and Apple TV Remote will open. You can also search for the remote in Spotlight and open it from there.
And you can even assign your shortcut to the double- or triple-tap Back Tap gesture, where tapping the Apple on the back of your iPhone twice or three times will open Apple TV Remote from whatever screen you’re on.
If you followed Step 2 above, you can also tap the Apple TV Remote icon from your home screen or app library to open it.
One day Apple may make Apple TV Remote a real app with an official app icon for Home Screen, App Library, and Spotlight Search like it did with Magnifier. Until then, the URL scheme works pretty well.
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