Forget the Newsstand - Apple needs a centralized Remote Control App Platform


If you're like me, your iPhone Newsstand folder is completely empty. Maybe you have a New York Times app - maybe not. On the iPad, the Newsstand is useful - there are magazines that use the platform. On the iPhone, less so. I wish that Apple would make Newsstand an iPad-only app aggregator.

And while we're at it, how about a single platform for Remote Control apps - with the ability to add third party app "modules" as needed? 

The iPad is a fantastic remote control - I've had great experiences with the DirecTV and SiriusXM apps, for instance, and I'm looking forward to additional home automation apps this year for lighting, thermostat, and so on. 

But there's always one issue - you have to jump from app to app when controlling different aspects of your home. Standalone apps are great - they allow third parties to truly control their iPad experience - but I'd like to be able to control my lights without having to close the DirecTV app and open the Lutron app, for instance. 

Would it be great if the iPad mini could control all of these elements of your home - from a single Apple Remote platform? Within this hypothetical "Remote" app, we'd be able to enter codes for and control our home theater components - and then add third-party "modules" to control our lighting, a Nest thermostat, and the SiriusXM internet radio - and to direct which speakers we're AirPlaying. 

Apple would control the "look and feel" of the Remote app - third parties could have some leeway to innovate within their own modules. When one module is up-front, the others would be accessible via a pull-down or pop-in window... so I could control the lights while picking my radio station. 

And bear with me here - If Apple were looking to truly differentiate the Mini from the standard iPad - or, perhaps, to release an entirely new "iRemote" product, they could add a couple of hard buttons, for volume and menu navigation. I've previously argued that the 2nd generation iPad mini should add IR/RF functionality... this would be just another small step toward unique functionality for the mini. 

Still, hard buttons? That's probably getting too far afield from where Apple would prefer to be - iOS has been in favor of virtual touchscreen buttons for a long time. But a centralized software platform for aggregating remote control functionality is plausible, fits the Apple aesthetic of simplifying what had previously been difficult, and would continue to push Apple's brand into the living room.  


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