How I want my TV remote to work

Feb 29, 2012 17:11 · 468 words · 3 minute read

This is what my TV remote control looks like (with an Apple keyboard for scale).

It’s horrible. It’s covered with buttons that never get used, and so many are crammed onto the device that they’re too small to use easily. The whole thing is just the right size and shape to fall down between the sofa cushions, too.

The things I use the remote for (in order of priority) are:

  • power on and off

  • channel selection

  • volume adjustment

  • mute on/off

  • changing aspect ratio

The other frustration is that I’m driving an interface that’s 3 metres away - and every onscreen interface I’ve ever seen is butt-ugly.

My iPad, on the other hand, spends a lot of time sat on the sofa next to me. And its interface is anything but butt-ugly.   So this is what I want my TV remote to look like. ]

No on-screen controls on the TV itself - all five functions are put front and centre on the iPad.

There are four main areas:

the basic controls

Power, volume, mute and aspect.

the channel area

This shows the channel logo and the current programme being shown. It’s a scrollable list - tapping and holding the channel logo will switch channels. The current channel is highlighted.

the schedule area

This scrolls around in tandem with the channel view. Tapping on the programme reveals a pop-up with programme details pulled from the channel guide.

the PVR area

This is a scrollable ribbon of programmes that have been recorded - tapping on the programme will reveal a pop-up with player controls. Tapping play will fire up the programme.

The second screen

The “second screen” view is for combining things like the red button functions (although I hardly ever use these) and online activity like Twitter, or Wikipedia or even the broadcaster’s site, if any of them ever got around to doing second screen activities “properly”.

Things that I’m not entirely sure about:

  • how switching between the main view and “second screen” view would work.

  • how and where the “red button” functions would best live.

All of this is predicated on the TV being completely slaved to the remote, of course. So it could happen one of two ways - either a TV manufacturer comes up with a model that has a corresponding app; or some other device sits in between and mediates between the iPad and the TV.

Presumably that would translate commands over wifi from the iPad into IR commands to the TV.

I’d buy something like this. Is anyone going to make it?

[Caveat - this is based on half-an-hour of sketching, and some hacking around with Omnigraffle.  No, it’s not polished, or the product of extensive UX workshops. But it’s still better than that lump of gray plastic crap that came with my TV.]