There’s been a lot of speculation that Apple might be planning a replacement for the remote control that ships with both the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. Today, that possibility seems closer to reality than ever courtesy of a leaked image acquired by 9to5mac.com, which editor Filipe Espósito claims is “definitely the new remote being developed by Apple.” Espósito further claims that the new remote is referred to internally at Apple by the model designation B519.
There’s no way to be sure — Apple is notoriously silent on all rumors and leaks — but the shape and button layout captured by this simple line drawing has many of the hallmarks of Apple’s previous design work.
Exclusive: Here’s our first look at the all-new Apple TV Remote https://t.co/LSZnV1nJv3 by @filipeesposito
— 9to5Mac.com (@9to5mac) March 31, 2021
But in a curious twist to the story, Sigmund Judge, a self-described “Apple TV aficionado” points out that this purported new Apple remote may simply be a 3rd-party Apple TV remote from remote maker Universal Electronics that’s intended for multichannel video programming distributors (MPVDs).
Though this alternative Apple TV remote from Universal Electronics still hasn’t shown up on retail sites or through MPVD providers that we’re aware of, it won’t be the first of its kind. Salt, a Swiss telecommunications provider, started to sell an entirely touchpad-free, $20 Apple TV remote in 2019. It actually looks quite a bit like the leaked image above, save for one very important distinction: The Salt remote doesn’t have a microphone button for interacting with Siri, whereas the leaked design puts this button right above the circular D-pad.
The long, slender body, with its curved corners, is highly reminiscent of the aluminum-bodied remote that Apple shipped with its third-generation Apple TV, a design that was met with near-universal acclaim.
Critically, however, it’s missing the touchpad that has been the subject of constant controversy since Apple debuted the first Siri remote with the fourth-gen Apple TV (now renamed Apple TV HD).
That touchpad, which took up the top half of the Siri remote’s surface area, let people navigate the Apple TV interface and on-screen keyboard with swipes, taps, and clicks. Unfortunately, it could be notoriously finicky to use, even after adjusting its sensitivity within the Apple TV settings.
We think it’s still possible that Apple will come up with several changes for its next Apple TV — and may even show them off at the upcoming WWDC 2021 event — but for now, it looks like this version of the remote will only be available through telecom companies and other cable TV competitors who use the Apple TV as their default set-top box.