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Apple TV 2021 leak just revealed surprise new remote

Apple TV 2021 news
(Image credit: Apple)

Rumors continue to swirl about an exciting new Apple TV 2021 remote for the next generation of the streaming hardware. Notable leakers like Jon Prosser have suggested that there’s a new model on the way with a massively updated A12X processor. With the last release four years ago, it makes sense for an upgrade to appear and hopefully a new Apple TV remote. 

A recent discovery in new tvOS software 14.5 beta 6 has revealed a new design, according to 9to5Mac. However, this doesn’t seem to be the remote most people will end up getting as the site says it’s a collaboration between cable companies and Apple to make a remote tailored to accessing cable channels. 

However, there is potentially still some value here, because a new Apple TV remote is inevitable at this point. The design featured shows updated button layouts and includes both channel and volume controls, which makes sense if you’re navigating a cable company's own app, replacing a cable box. However, the return of a more structured click wheel would make a lot of sense, given how problematic the touch interface is on the existing Apple TV remote. 

A leaked image of the new Apple TV remote

(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

Anyone who has used the otherwise-brilliant Apple TV 4K will probably be well aware of its shortcomings. While navigating by touch is a good idea, it’s a bit hard to move around a TV screen with any accuracy. It’s way too easy to move your finger too far, or not far enough. It’s just not ideal. 

The image also shows dedicated forward and reverse controllers which would be a godsend for running backwards a bit without needing to use that touch interface to try and accurately move back. You can, of course, use Siri to navigate, but most people probably won’t think of that when they’re watching TV and perhaps some people don’t even know you can say to Siri “what did he just say” and have it back the show up slightly to repeat dialogue. 

Then there’s the physical design issues of the current remote. Sure, the thing looks great, but it's really hard to tell which way is up. Pick it up in the dark and you’ve got no hope of being able to tell which is the top and bottom because it’s basically symmetrical. 

So while the leaked design probably won’t be the one that joins the new Apple TV out of the box, we can hope that there will be a rethought remote included. For one, gaming is a fantastic part of Apple TV, but the touch controller makes that hard to enjoy. A few more physical buttons would make the whole experience a lot better.

Some rumors point to Apple introducing the Apple TV 2021 at an Apple April event, but we'll have to wait and see.  

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A tech journalist with many years of experience, Ian got his start writing about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Technology might have moved on, but there's still plenty of skirmishes to report on.