The beautifully annoying Siri Remote
This is an article one year in the making.
It’s not that I’m such a slow writer. (Well, maybe a little of that.) It’s because I’ve been patient and forgiving. I’ve tried to adapt, learn new tricks and think positive. But at some point I have to face the fact—
I will never love the Siri Remote for Apple TV.
In fact, I think it’s earned a place in the Apple Hall of Infamy, right alongside one of the company’s classic aberrations: the hockey puck mouse that shipped with the original iMac.
In one sense, the two are actually birds of a feather.
Like the hockey puck, you can’t tell what direction the Siri Remote is facing when you pick it up. You have a 50-50 chance of getting it right, and therefore a 50-50 chance of hitting the wrong button.
At least with the hockey puck mouse, you could rely on your eyeballs. The cord stuck out of the top. No such luck with the Siri Remote, even in a decently lit room. There is only a subtle difference in the two shades of black, matte and shiny, and the buttons are perfectly centered, top to bottom. (Or is it bottom to top?)
The orientation issue was the hockey puck mouse’s only crime. The problems with the Siri Remote run deeper.
Like the ill-fated touch-sensitive iPod, the Siri Remote’s touchpad makes it way too easy to screw up your viewing by accident. All it takes is the slightest brush of a finger when handling it.
And, though the touchpad is a cool thing, it is oftentimes not nearly as quick and accurate as physical directional buttons would be.
The Siri Remote is a gorgeously designed object — it’s just a terribly designed remote.
It’s a thin slab that feels like, well, a thin slab. Its shape doesn’t contribute one iota to ease of use. There are a number of remotes out there that fit the human hand nicely, and put the most-used buttons at one’s fingertips. The Tivo remote is a good example, as are a few presentation clickers.
Lapses of this type make it difficult to defend Apple when it is accused of favoring design over function. It’s hard to think of the Siri Remote as anything but design run amok. It’s beautifully annoying.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something we can blame on a Steve-less Apple, given that Steve himself was smitten by the hockey puck mouse until it was met with universal scorn.
One could put a positive spin on it and say that greatness only results when a company shoots for the stars — and failures are inevitable along the way.
That’s when the ability to correct one’s mistakes becomes even more important. Steve Jobs was pretty good at that. He not only fixed that dastardly mouse, but he delivered a replacement that exceeded customer expectations. This is how Apple’s first laser mouse was born.
The mouse replacement took two years. The Siri Remote is a mere youngster at half that age. So I’ll cling to the hope that Apple will once again learn from its mistake and deliver something that is lustworthy in both design and function.
In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to refine my Siri Remote skills — or cheat by using the iPhone or Watch remote apps instead.