Apple TV Remote

Remote

The primary input method for Apple TV is the remote, which brings the touch experience to the TV from across the living room.

Implement expected button behavior. In most apps, people expect that clicking content using the touch surface navigates deeper into an app’s hierarchy and pressing Menu returns to the previous screen.

Use movement to clarify and delight. Movement, such as the parallax effect, is used throughout the system to engage people and clarify what’s in focus. Your app can deliver a compelling, fun, and intuitive experience by leveraging the remote’s touch surface, accelerometer, and gyroscope for control, navigation, and embellishment.


Gestures

The remote’s touch surface detects a variety of intuitive, single-finger gestures. Use them to build a physical sense of connection with your content.

Swipe. Moves focus up, down, left, or right between items. Swiping lets the user scroll effortlessly through large volumes of content with movement that starts fast and then slows down, based on the strength of the swipe.

Click. Activates a control or selects an item. Clicking is the primary way of triggering actions. Clicking and holding is sometimes used to trigger context-specific actions. For example, clicking and holding an interface element may enter an edit mode.

Tap. Navigates through a collection of items one-by-one. In apps with standard interfaces based on UIKit, tapping different regions navigates directionally. For example, tapping the top of the touch surface navigates up. Some apps use tap gestures to display hidden controls.

Differentiate between click and tap, and avoid triggering actions on inadvertent taps. Clicking is a very intentional action, and is generally well-suited for pressing a button, confirming a selection, and initiating an action during gameplay. Tap gestures are fine for navigation or showing additional information, but keep in mind that the user may naturally rest a thumb on the remote, pick it up, move it around, or hand it to someone.

Avoid using standard gestures to perform nonstandard actions. Unless your app is a game in active gameplay, redefining the meaning of standard gestures leads to confusion and complexity.

Define new gestures only when it makes sense in your app. People are familiar with the standard gestures and don’t appreciate being forced to learn different ways to do the same thing. In games and other immersive apps, custom gestures can be a fun part of the experience. In other apps, it’s best to use standard gestures so extra effort isn’t needed to discover or remember them.

Where appropriate, use the tap gesture position to aid with navigation or gameplay. The remote can differentiate between up, down, left, and right tap gestures on the touch surface. Respond to positional taps only if it makes sense in the context of your app and if such behavior is intuitive and discoverable.


Game Controllers

Game controllers can enhance gameplay and increase the sense of immersion in a game. A game controller can also navigate the Apple TV focus-based interface, eliminating the need to switch input devices.

Third Party Game Controller

Consider supporting both a game controller and the remote. Game controllers are optional purchases people may or may not make. But every Apple TV has a remote. If you support game controllers in your app, consider making the remote usable as a game controller too. Think about the kinds of interactions you can enable using the remote. In a driving game, for example, you can let people rotate and operate the remote in landscape mode.

Determine game controller requirements.
If your game has advanced game mechanics that can’t be supported by the remote, you can require the use of a game controller. The App Store displays a "Game Controller Required" badge for apps restricted in such a manner, and may warn people if a compatible game controller hasn’t been paired with their Apple TV.

Confirm required game controller connections at launch. Your game can be opened anytime, even when there’s no controller connected. If your app requires a controller, check for the presence of a controller at launch and gracefully prompt for one if necessary.

Communicate game controller advantages. If your app supports both the remote and game controllers, inform people about the capabilities a game controller offers beyond those of the remote.

Test all supported input devices. Make sure menus and essential navigation work with any input devices your app supports so people don't need to keep switching devices as they use your app.

For information about implementing game controller support, see Working with Game Controllers in App Programming Guide for tvOS and Game Controller Programming Guide. To find out about developing games, see GameplayKit Programming Guide.


Buttons

In addition to the touch surface, which also operates as a clickable button, the Play/Pause button on the Siri Remote is accessible to your app or game. Apps that use the Game Controller framework can also be notified when the Menu button is pressed, so they can take appropriate action. Regardless of whether someone is using the remote or a game controller, buttons should behave consistently and predictably in the context of your app or game.

Expected Siri Remote Button Behavior

Apple TV Remote

Button Expected behavior in an app Expected behavior in a game
Touch surface (tap/swipe) Navigates.
Changes focus.
Tap behavior varies.
Swiping performs directional pad behavior.
Touch surface (click) Activates a control or an item.
Navigates deeper.
Performs primary button behavior.
Menu Returns to previous screen.
Exits to Apple TV Home screen.
Pauses/resumes gameplay.
Returns to previous screen, exits to main game menu, and/or exits to Apple TV Home screen.
Play/Pause Activates media playback.
Pauses/resumes media playback.
Performs secondary button behavior.
Skip intro video.

Expected Game Controller Button Behavior

Third Party Game Controller

Button Expected behavior in an app Expected behavior in a game
Directional Pad Navigates.
Changes focus.
Varies.
A Activates a control or an item. Performs primary button behavior, such as accelerating.
Confirms affirmative actions.
B Returns to previous screen.
Exits to Apple TV Home screen.
Performs secondary button behavior, such as braking.
Returns to previous screen.
X Activates media playback.
Pauses/resumes media playback.
Varies.
Y N/A Varies.
Menu Returns to previous screen.
Exits to Apple TV Home screen.
Pauses/resumes gameplay.
Returns to previous screen, exits to main game menu, and/or exits to Apple TV Home screen.
Left Shoulder Navigates left. Varies.
Right Shoulder Navigates right. Varies.
Left Trigger Navigates left. Varies.
Right Trigger Navigates right. Varies.
Left Thumbstick Navigates.
Changes focus.
Varies.
Right Thumbstick N/A Varies.

Provide a way back to the previous screen and out of your app or game. Users expect to press the Menu button on the remote or game controller and return to a previous screen or the main Apple TV Home screen. Pressing Menu at the top level of an app or game should always exit to the Apple TV Home screen. During gameplay, pressing Menu should show or hide an in-game pause menu that includes an option to navigate back to the game’s main menu.

Enable the Play/Pause button on the Siri Remote during media playback. When playing music or video, pressing the Play/Pause button should perform the expected behavior—play, pause, or resume.