Apple TV tidbits: New remote sold separately, Siri support in new countries, HomeKit Thread compatibility

Apple surprised everyone today with a refresh of the Apple TV and unveiling a new version of the remote, after the glass trackpad version received so much criticism. Here are a couple little changes that you might have missed …

New Apple TV Remote Sold Separately

The new Apple TV remote will be available separately. If you don’t want to upgrade to the new Apple TV 4K with A12 processor, you will be able to buy the new Apple TV remote on its own, priced at $59. The new Apple TV and remote will be available in May. Purchases of Apple TV 4K ($179) and Apple TV HD ($149) will now ship with the new remote included in the box.

The new Apple TV remote is backwards compatible with all Apple TVs that run tvOS. It eschews the glass trackpad in favor of a circular D-Pad with clickable buttons. The D-Pad is capacitive which allows you to do tvOS swipe gestures on it as well. You can even slide it on in a circular motion to navigate a list, just like the old iPod clickwheel.

tvOS Now Supports Siri In More Countries

Another small tidbit announcement is that Apple TV now supports Siri in more countries. Customers in Austria, Ireland and New Zealand will now be able to use the Siri remote with their voice. Siri on Apple TV lets you find shows through TV app, open apps, check the weather and more.

The new Siri countries will be available as part of tvOS 14.5 which will be released next week. This functionality is available on existing Apple TVs too. On the new Apple TV remote, the button to invoke Siri has been moved to the side of the unit.

New Apple TV Features Thread Smart Home Connectivity

Another small addition to the new Apple TV hardware is the addition of a Thread radio. This means modern HomeKit smart home devices that use the Thread protocol can now be directly controlled by the Apple TV. And as the Apple TV serves as a HomeKit hub, all your other devices will be able to use Thread accessories too.

Thread support was previously only available on the HomePod mini. This Apple TV generation also supports 802.11ax WiFi 6 for the first time.

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