If you’re using the Apple TV Remote found in your iPhone’s Control Center, there’s a hidden surprise you’ll love with the iOS 16 update — one that lets you use the remote without ever opening 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-enabled smart TVs must be added to your Home app in an assigned room before you can control them with Apple TV Remote.
It’s a simple tool to adjust volume, navigate menus, play and pause media, switch channels, perform searches, and do other essentials. But on iOS 15.7 and earlier, you can only access Apple TV Remote from Control Center. Even Siri, App Library or Spotlight Search can’t help you. Closing the remote takes you back to the Control Center.
Now use Apple TV Remote in the app switcher
On iOS 16.0 and later, the Apple TV Remote works more like an app than a simple control in the Control Center. If you use Apple TV Remote and switch to another app, you can use App Switcher to summon the remote whenever you need it, just like you would with any other app.
While App Switcher support is a huge gain for when you need to multitask, you still can’t access 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 that’s not only supported in your iPhone’s app switcher, a secret that many of you probably never thought possible: you can turn it into an app.
Make Apple TV Remote work like other apps
OK, it’s already an app and technically it always was because it had its own .app file in iOS’s hidden applications list, just like Code Scanner and Print Center. What’s different is that Apple has finally assigned a URL scheme to Apple TV Remote.
If you don’t know what a URL scheme is, think of a regular web page URL or a link on a web page to email someone through your default email app. The http:// or https:// start of a web page URL indicates a web resource that uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, while mailto:// indicates a hyperlinked email address that you can click or tap 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 schedule only in a web browser or from another app will open the app if it is installed on the device. You can add special parameters to the schedule to perform specific actions within the associated app.
Apple provides many of its own URL schemes for apps, such as Calculator (calc://), Camera (camera://), FaceTime (facetime://), Find My (findmy://), Fitness (fitnessapp: / /), Music (music://), and News (applenews://). And with iOS 16.0 and above, Apple supports tvremote:// for Apple TV Remote.
Step 1: Make it work with Siri and Spotlight Search
With an assigned URL scheme, you can create a simple shortcut in your Shortcuts app that opens the URL scheme, which will open Apple TV Remote. You can then use that shortcut with Siri, add it to your home screen or app library, and find it through Spotlight Search. And creating the shortcut is easy:
- Start a new shortcut from the Shortcuts tab.
- Add the web action ‘URL’.
- 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 doubles as the Siri command.
If you just 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 a home screen and app library app icon, change the current shortcut icon.
Step 2: Add it to your home screen and app library
Tap the current icon next to the shortcut name to open the icon picker. You can also tap (v) and then tap “Choose icon.” You can choose any icon and color you want, but the Apple TV icon may be the most suitable. Save it with ‘Done’.
Now let’s add it to the home screen and app library for easier, faster access. Tap (v) next to the shortcut name and choose “Add to Home Screen.” You can also tap (i) in the toolbar, followed by “Add to Home Screen”.
It will default to using the shortcut icon as the bookmark icon shown for the home screen and app library, which should be fine since we’ve already changed it. But you can also tap the icon to choose a different image from Camera, Files or Photos. Since “Open Apple TV Remote” is quite long for the name of a home screen icon, try it without “Open”. You can also ditch “Apple” if you want a tighter 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 click “Done” on the shortcut to check if it’s saved in your library.
Step 3: Open Apple TV Remote faster
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 Back Tap two or three taps gesture, where you tap Apple two or three times on the back of your iPhone to open Apple TV Remote, no matter what screen you’re on.
If you followed step 2 above, you can also tap the Apple TV Remote icon on your home screen or app library to open it.
One day, Apple may turn Apple TV Remote into a real app with an official app icon for the home screen, app library, and Spotlight Search, like Magnifier. Until then, the URL scheme works pretty well.
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