Apple patent outlines plans for a universal touchscreen remote

Not content with changing the way we interact with our devices, Apple wants to change the way we control them as well

It's no secret that Apple is out to rule the living room. There's been a lot of talk surrounding iTV – which we could have in our living rooms as soon as the end of this year – but what about the remote?

It's Apple, so you can expect its remote to be anything but bog-standard. And if a new patent application (discovered by Apple Insider) is anything to go by, Apple's remote is going to be the mother of all clickers and come with plenty of bells and whistles.

Called Apparatus and Method to facilitate Universal Remote Control, the patent describes a touchscreen-based remote designed to do away with the clutter and confusion associated with universal clickers.

According to the patent, Apple wants to build a simplified remote with an intuitive UI, that can control a multitude of devices, yet go beyond the norm – like controlling programs and functions on a computer, such as playing songs on iTunes via a Mac or PC.

It goes on to say Apple doesn't want its users to "spend time learning a new remote control or programming an existing universal remote each time they purchase a new remotely controllable appliance". Instead it notes, "what is needed is an apparatus and a method to provide remote control over multiple appliances without the difficulties."

Apple's clever touchscreen remote would also include a "discovery mechanism" to locate available devices and set them up properly, getting rid of the need to program individual devices with complex codes. And if a device can no longer be be detected, it will disappear off the remote's radar.

Not only does Apple's remote sound pretty darn clever, but the patent strengthens the rumours of the fabled futuristic Apple iTV, which has been a hot topic for a while now.

Whatever Apple's plans, there's no denying a slick TV, with a slick remote to boot is very much up Apple's street.

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