Today Remote app, tomorrow…

by editor @ on July 18, 2008


By now, you are probably having fun using your iPhone/iPod Touch to control and view media on your the Apple TV with the help of the Remote app. And what a neat app it is.

Now that Apple has shown us what could be done with the iPhone SDK and the new Apple TV 2.1 firmware, I am very excited at the possibilities of other apps to follow (either from Apple or 3rd party).

I wrote a post at AppleTVSource a few days back about what this can lead to: two-way control, video support and maybe even screen sharing.

Apple may have published an extensive documentation on the iPhone SDK but none on how to control the Apple TV. But then again that’s why we hack.

Currently, I am trying to figure out how the iPhone-Apple TV communication works. I haven’t had much time to look into this though. I suspect that the Apple TV exposes a set of web services to be consumed by the client. These web services are used to control and retrieve the media data.

I sent an email to the iPhone SDK support team at Apple but I doubt if I will get anything back from them.

Has anybody looked into this? I would love to hear from you.

  • I had the same idea. I spent like 5 minutes using eavesdrop to inspect and it is definitely a web service. The data does seem to be compressed when it is transmitted (gzip) and I didn’t see the discovery process work, but I’d be very surprised if it was much more than bonjour.

    I’d be interested in participating in making this happen.

  • iMosaic

    According to Macrumors the Remote app also gives you a wifi keyboard when using ATV.

  • imagine, if Apple opened up this interface spec, i mean really open to anyone, it could be used not just for all sorts of a/v purposes beyond the Apple TV, but also for Home Automation, and home security; all neatly remote-controlled from your iPhone anywhere, but also/alternatively with a graphical UI on the AppleTV. heaps of opportunities, and threats, for those in these markets!

  • Roger

    I would like to see the Remote App ported to regular Macs for those of us that don’t have an iPhone. Just being able to use the iBook keyboard for YouTube searches would very helpful.

  • luck

    That’s a great idea, Roger.

  • Dan

    @ iMosaic,

    – True, I can confirm that when you get to any area on the ATV that has keyboard input, a keyboard pops up on the phone/touch – this is especially useful for Youtube searches.

    One complaint I have about the ‘Remote’ app is that, after pairing with the ATV, it should present an option to have an on-screen version of the IR remote, allowing me to navigate without going directly to playlists, etc. Other than that, Remote is very nifty.

  • This sounds great, I think we should be looking into the ‘pairing’ mechanism they used. I think this might be where the service on the device sends it’s capabilities to the iphone. My complaint about Apple Remote is if your device is plugged into a home theater system you would need to be able to control the volume and source switching for the reciever and your tv as well as the apple tv to make it really useful.

    If Apple was to open this up or add the pairing process to the sdk, it would make it really easy for other developers, manufacturers, and integrators to build Apple Home Automation into their products.

    In the meantime, keep on this guys, if you can hack it, then it would not be hard to make ‘bridge’ software so this type of remote technology can be used with legacy devices and systems.

  • Scott

    Unless I’m missing something it’s also not possible to use the Remote app for browsing/selection of Shared Libraries. This limits the functionality to “neat” for my particular setup [which btw includes all these other topics of Home Automation, Home Theatre, Home Server, multiple Apple TV’s, etc.]

  • Came across some info about the protocol the iPhone uses to talk to iTunes.

    I did some testing and it does look like the Apple TV is now running an HTTP server on port 3689. So how do we pair with it and login?


  • inco9nito

    I can’t wait for the Home Security, etc. apps.

    However, why can’t we do something simple, like just getting the iPhone keyboard to work? I’m sick of YouTubing on that geigh white remote!

    Thanks for all of the insight, guys.


    Here is how to pair and communicate with itunes over HTTP:

  • Tejs

    It would be great if the appletv was able to stream to airTunes units. Then I could use my ATV as a itunes server and control it via my ipod touch to play in any room i like. If I have my computer running itunes – this works as I describe, but when I use ATV as source I can not choose which airTunes unit I want to stream to.

    This feature is hopefully comming soon – it would be that hard to implement now that it already works with itunes.

Previous post:

Next post: