It’s been a few weeks I’ve been playing with the AppleTV. Well not playing anymore but fully integrating it into our lifestyle. One of the nice little easter eggs I found was the “Learn Remote” feature in the menu. It’s not really an easter egg as much as a feature that fills an obvious need.
The Apple remote is fantastic. A little sliver of aluminum that is cool to the touch, smooth on all sides and perfectly fits in the hand. But it’s also the thickness of 2 coins stacked on top of one another. I seriously have about 10 “oh shit where did I drop it now” moments a day. It easily gets lost under the couch, in papers, on the counter, and different rooms in the apartment. It’s small, unassuming and easily misplaced.
And that’s where Learn Remote feature comes into play. Traditionally we are used to buying universal remotes, then finding the code, then entering the code and hope all the buttons work, then trying to teach the remote all the buttons it didn’t know.
Learn remote turns that on its head. Since we’ve got all types of remotes rather than adding more remotes and more complexity to the mix it takes the alternative view by saying, this device will use whatever you’ve got. My TV has a DVD functions, but they only work for the same brand of DVD player as my TV, Toshiba. So I set the TV remote to DVD, select learn remote from the AppleTV Settings menu and fire each corresponding button at the AppleTV. Play to play, reverse to reverse, pause to pause, etc.
This is loads easier than the universal remote I do have, where you hold down some combination of buttons, type in a code, hope it works but deep down you know only half the buttons do anything, and fill in the rest manually by pressing a button here pressing a button there. Then if you ever loose the original remote and need to recreate the button map, you’re screwed.
CE manufacturers of the world, are you listening. YOU NEED TO COPY/LICENSE/STEAL THIS FUNCTIONALITY FROM APPLE. This is infinitely better than what you are currently doing.