While the Apple TV hasn’t become quite as popular as the iPhone or iPad over the years, it’s still a staple in many households and it serves as a vital accessory of sorts to iOS device owners.
The Apple TV can do a lot of neat stuff, but it’s practically useless without a remote control. Luckily, it comes with a nifty aluminum-clad remote, but did you know that you can control your Apple with your iPhone or iPad?
It’s pretty easy to lose that small silver remote that comes with your Apple TV, and once it’s finally lost in between your couch cushions, your iPhone or iPad can serve as a worthy backup. Plus, one huge benefit with using your iOS device is that you can easily type out words when searching for a movie or show instead of using the slow hunt-and-peck method with the stock remote.
Downloading a free app and changing some quick settings on your Apple TV will allow you to use your iPhone or iPad as a remote control for your Apple TV. With it, you can navigate through menus and pause and play video content.
Here’s a quick guide on how to set up your Apple TV and iPhone or iPad in order for the two to harmoniously connect with one another.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that your Apple TV and your iPhone/iPad are connected to the same WiFi network. If you only have one router in your house like most people, you obviously only have one WiFi network, but if you have two or more routers for larger homes with different WiFi networks, you’ll want to make sure that they’re both connected to the same one.
Next, download and install the Remote app from the App Store. You can do this by simply searching for “remote” and choosing the first option that appears. It’s an official app from Apple, so it should say “Apple” as the developer name, which will confirm that it’s the correct app.
The next step is to enable Home Sharing on both your Apple TV and iPhone/iPad. Home Sharing is Apple’s own solution to sharing your iTunes library across devices. Even if you don’t have an iTunes library to share, Home Sharing still needs to be enabled in order to use your iPhone/iPad as an Apple TV remote.
To enable Home Sharing on your iPhone or iPad, open up the Remote app that you just downloaded and tap on Settings. From there, enable Home Sharing.
To enable it on your Apple TV, take the remote that came with it and navigate to Settings > General > Remotes > Remote App and turn on Home Sharing. You’ll get a confirmation message letting you know if you want to use the Apple ID associated with your Apple TV — click Yes. From there, you can go back to the home screen.
Both your iPhone/iPad and Apple TV now have Home Sharing enabled and you’re ready to actually set up your iOS devices to be used as an Apple TV remote.
All you have to do now is go back into the Remote app on your iPhone or iPad and tap on the Apple TV icon that appears on the Devices pages. Then instantly, you’ll be able to control your Apple TV from your iPhone or iPad.
How to Use the Remote App
Navigating around the different menus is really easy, as it just takes a swipe of your finger in the larger empty area on the screen of your iPhone or iPad. When you have the item on your Apple TV highlighted, just tap on the screen of your iOS device to select it.
Furthermore, at any point where there’s an option to enter text, you should see a small keyboard icon appear on your iOS device, or the keyboard may pop up automatically.
The Remote app does a lot more than just act as a remote control for your Apple TV. You can also use it to access any media in your iTunes library and stream it your Apple TV, all through the Remote app. You can access your iTunes media by tapping on Done in the upper corner. From there, you’ll have instant access to your music, movies, TV shows, etc.
One big convenience that I’ve found when using the iPhone Remote app is that the range is a lot better than the small silver remote, as the app communicates over WiFi rather than an infrared signal. This makes it easy to play and pause music even when I’m in a different room and not in the line of sight of the Apple TV.
Otherwise, I usually prefer to use the small silver remote for most things, since I like having physical buttons to push more than anything, and using a smartphone as a remote control just isn’t as intuitive as it should be, but maybe it’s just me. That’s one reason why I was never a big fan of the Chromecast, because it relied solely on using your smartphone as a remote control.