If you’ve been putting up with the touchpad on Apple’s Siri remote for the last four years, we’ve got good news: You can now replace it with something better. The second-generation Siri remote, which was announced at the Apple Spring Loaded event (along with a refresh of the Apple TV 4K) can be purchased separately for $59.
The new remote will work with the 2017 Apple TV 4K as it’s now the default remote that ships with the $149 Apple TV HD (which hasn’t been updated).
As some observers had predicted, Apple has taken steps to address criticism of the first Siri remote’s touchpad by creating a hybrid of its third-generation Apple TV remote (the slender, all-aluminum version) and its Siri remote. The result looks like something that should please everyone, and that’s no small achievement.
The new design, once again fashioned from a chunk of aluminum (though this time the aluminum is 100% recycled) brings back the simplicity of the older remote. But don’t let its looks fool you. The circular D-pad, which looks like it was lifted directly from the first aluminum model is actually a touchpad in disguise.
The entire surface is touch-sensitive and lets you perform horizontal and vertical swipe gestures in much the same way as you could on the first Siri remote. But this touchpad goes further: You can treat the circumference of the ring like a jog-wheel. Run your thumb along the edge in one direction and it can scrub your current video forward — switch directions and it scrubs backward.
The Menu button has been replaced by a backward-pointing arrow which we assume means “back” — which makes a lot more sense given that the Menu button has always acted as a back button.
This is also the first Apple remote to get a power button. This is a feature that has been showing up on streaming device remotes for some time — Apple is actually the last of the manufacturers to add it. For those with simple setups, it lets you power your TV on or off at the same time as the Apple TV 4K.
As with the first Siri remote, the second-gen device can control devices via Bluetooth and infrared. Also unchanged is the way you recharge the remote: An included Apple USB-to-Lightning cable.
Summoning Siri, however, is a bit different. Instead of a microphone button located on the face of the remote, Apple has moved it to the side. It gives the new Siri remote a vaguely iPhone-esque profile.
One change that might annoy some is the removal of the accelerometer and gyroscope. Together, these sensors let the original Siri remote act as a game controller. You could even use a wrist strap to keep the remote from flying out of your hand during aggressive gaming.