Apple explains why new Apple TV remote lacks AirTag — and it’s not great

Siri Remote for Apple TV 4K
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple TV 4K 2021 comes with an all-new Siri Remote with a much better design, but it has one notable weakness: there’s no room for the U1 chip, which gives Apple devices’s super-accurate tracking functionality. 

Anyone who has ever owned any kind of remote control will know that losing it behind sofa cushions is just an occupational hazard, and built-in AirTag functionality would have been extremely welcome.

But according to Apple Vice President of Product Marketing for Home and Audio Tim Twerdahl, there’s a very good reason for the lack of U1 chip: the new Siri remote is bigger, and thus less easy to lose. 

“That [Find My functionality] is the most powerful out of the home,” Twerdahl told Mobile Syrup when asked why AirTag-like technology wasn’t in the remote. “With the changes we’ve made to the Siri Remote – including making it a bit thicker so it won’t fall in your couch cushions as much – that need to have all these other network devices find it seems a little bit lower.”

While the Siri Remote is slightly bigger than the previous model, with dimensions of 5.4 x 1.4 x 0.36-inches, that still sounds very easy to lose behind cushions to us. And while Twerdahl did only say this shouldn’t happen “as much,” it’s fair to say we expect users will spend at least some time fishing for their missing Siri remotes. For us, a more likely explanation for the U1 chip’s omission is a big hit to battery life or the additional cost involved. 

Fortunately, Apple TV 4K owners with a habit of losing things can take the initiative and add an AirTag to the remote themselves thanks to a clever 3D-printed case available on Etsy. The addition costs $12.99. While that’s a temptingly low price, you have to add it to the expense of an AirTag itself ($29).

Alternatively, the Tile Sticker can be stuck to any surface as the name suggests, and can be bought in a $58 four pack. It’s not as accurate as the UWB sensor deployed in AirTags, but given the lack of places for a remote control to hide, it should work just fine.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.