How to use your iPhone as a remote for Apple TV in iOS 16


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The iPhone has a built-in Apple TV Remote feature that is swipe and tap away at any time. Here’s how to get the most out of this handy tool.

Apple used to offer the Apple TV Remote as a separate download from the App Store. It removed the app and integrated it as a system-wide feature in 2016.

If you still have this legacy app installed, delete it as it no longer works well in iOS 16. The built-in system-wide Apple TV Remote app is much better as it is modernized and up to date.

Even though there is no app icon in the App Library, once launched, the new system-wide Apple TV Remote software works as a fully functional app. Users can see it in the app switcher and open it quickly by swiping between apps.

The Apple TV Remote app interface

The Apple TV Remote app offers almost the same functionality as the hardware Siri remote. The large empty space acts as a trackpad, while all of the front buttons function identically to their physical counterparts.

The Remote app has the same controls as the Siri Remote

The Remote app has the same controls as the Siri Remote

Using the Apple TV Remote app:

  • Swipe and tap the empty gray area to move around the Apple TV interface.
  • The Play/Pause button stops playing an active video. Everywhere else Apple Music is playing or paused.
  • The TV button brings the user home or to the TV app based on the Apple TV settings. Press and hold the TV button to open Control Center.
  • The mute button only works where the volume buttons work. It’s greyed out if it’s not available

The physical volume buttons control the volume of the Apple TV under certain circumstances, more on that below. The sleep/wake button summons Siri on the Apple TV when held down.

How to launch the Apple TV Remote app

Apple has provided several shortcuts to launch the Apple TV Remote app. The primary launcher is in Control Center, represented by a remote icon.

Launch the Apple TV Remote app using shortcuts in the Now Playing widgets

Launch the Apple TV Remote app using shortcuts in the Now Playing widgets

When connecting to the Apple TV using the Apple TV Remote app, an AirPlay 2 connection is established.

This means that Now Playing content in Control Center and on the lock screen shows what’s playing on the Apple TV. A remote icon in the Now Playing widgets in both locations launches the remote app.

Every time a user opens an app on the Apple TV that prompts for a text or password, nearby iPhones on the same network are prompted to enter the information on their keyboards. This notification automatically launches the Apple TV Remote app.

How to control the TV volume using the Apple TV Remote app

The Apple TV Remote app can control media volume under certain circumstances. Because the iPhone doesn’t have an IR emitter, it can’t directly manipulate the volume like the Siri Remote can.

Volume control is only available under certain circumstances

Volume control is only available under certain circumstances

Instead, the app relies on HDMI-CEC control or AirPlay control. When using the Apple TV Remote app on an AirPlay 2-compatible smart TV, it can control TV volume or ARC-connected speakers.

When controlling an Apple TV via the Remote app, users can adjust the volume when the TV audio is playing through ARC-connected speakers. ARC is an HDMI connector that passes input audio to a receiver or soundbar. The volume cannot be controlled when routed from the TV via an optical connection.

If the Apple TV is part of an AirPlay 2 group with other speakers or HomePods, the Apple TV Remote app can also control the volume. For example, if the user has set a pair of HomePods as audio output.

Bonus features for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have some unique features thanks to their exclusive hardware. The always-on display and Dynamic Island create a few new interactions for the Apple TV Remote app.

Dynamic Island adds another remote app shortcut

Dynamic Island adds another remote app shortcut

When connected to an Apple TV via AirPlay 2, Now Playing content is displayed in Dynamic Island. Press and hold the dynamic island to display a shortcut to the Apple TV Remote app.

The always-on display keeps the Apple TV Remote app always on screen. One tap wakes the screen and allows immediate interaction with the remote control.

Here’s how to bring the Apple TV Remote app back to your home screen

Since Apple no longer ships the Apple TV Remote as a separate app in the App Store, some users may miss seeing it appear as an icon on the home screen. Fortunately, it can still be added using shortcuts.

Add the Apple TV Remote back to your home screen using shortcuts

Add the Apple TV Remote back to your home screen using shortcuts

  1. open shortcuts. Tap the “+” in the top right corner.
  2. In the action selection view, search for the term “remote”. Choose Apple TV Remote.
  3. Select “Wake Apple TV” from the list, open the list again and select “Show Remote”.
  4. For each action, tap the blue text to select the desired Apple TV for those actions.
  5. Tap the top menu to rename the action. Tap the top menu again to add it to the home screen.
  6. The icon and name chosen for the home screen icon appear in the next blank space. Tap on it to run the shortcut.

Shortcuts is a powerful tool that allows users to select any number of actions that can be linked with a single keystroke. Customize the Apple TV Remote shortcut to perform any action, even control smart lights or open a specific app on Apple TV.

We chose a custom icon that we created using Apple’s SF icons. There are many icons on the web available for free or in premium icon packs to customize this launcher to your liking.

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