The Roku iPhone Remote(s)

Dave Zatz —  December 27, 2011


Based on recent traffic, it’s clear many of you received Roku streaming hardware for Christmas or Hanukkah (with interest in a YouTube Channel… and content somewhat more racy). So we thought we’d take this opportunity to point out Roku’s brand-spanking new iOS remote app.

First off, Roku’s official app is free and therefore immediately worth a look for iPhone and iPod Touch owners. But, beyond the cost, we’ve found the remote highly polished for a v1 release – featuring a more efficient and powerful Roku Store experience than our Roku boxes actually offer via their television interface. Further, the virtual remote provides the priceless ‘instant replay’ button that’s not actually found on most Roku physical remotes – such as the one included with the $50 Roku LT. Yet there are a few areas that could use some improvement.

As a long time user of the very nice DVPRemote ($1.99), a third party Roku app, the official app is in desperate need of a virtual keyboard to enter credentials and search for content on various channels. Additionally, while some may appreciate swiping over tapping… many do not. And I’d personally like to see navigation “buttons” offered in a future upgrade. Again, Roku could follow the lead of DVPRemote by offering just such an option. But, in the interim, we’ll continue to recommend DVPRemote. Especially to those looking to control their Roku from an iPad.

In Roku content news, it looks like rights holders continue to exert their will against unofficial offerings and we recently lost HGTV – which had been one of my favorite channels. But, looking on the bright side, Amazon’s streaming channel has seen a significant redesign and remains the best way to catch “free” Prime streaming.

8 responses to The Roku iPhone Remote(s)

  1. It’s probably safe to assume Roku is also working on Android apps, which would join some of the solid third party products in the Market.

  2. While the new official app is okay, I prefer the DVPRemote app. Long ago, in the Roku forums, I recommended that Roku partner with the DVPRemote developer to make that the official iOS app. It is likely Roku will continue to improve the app and by the time an iPad version is released, it will surpass the DVPRemote app.

    Regarding Amazon Instant Video, does it surprise you that Amazon took so long to update the Roku UI and has not made more of an effort to get the service on more devices? Specifically, I would like to see an app on the Xbox and PS3.

  3. I tried the new “official” Roku app on my iPad2, and then quickly went back to using DVPRemote because the official app is simply awful on the larger iPad size screen. I also dislike it’s swipe behavior (it’s backwards to the iOS look and feel), and it continues to have intermittent problems finding my Roku on my home network.

    I agree that the Amazon channel’s new look is a huge improvement. Now Amazon needs to release a native iPad app.

  4. jcm, dwgsp – Yeah, Amazon could use more and more updated streaming apps. I wondered back in September if they were going all-in with their tablet at the expense of other platforms like the iPad. And Amazon’s TiVo experience is in desperate need of a refresh.

  5. I bought myself an additional Roku XS. Kids love adding Angry Birds. My wife loves the form factor. The shiny black finish matches the TV and is virtually invisible. She hates the big boxes that connect to the TV, particularly the big TiVo box. Huge WAF number.

  6. Using the latest software on the Griffin Beacon works fine on my iOS device. Windows 7 Media Center w/ CableCard working just fine. No need to buy this box, or app.

  7. I have a Beacon as well. Need to write that up some time. It offers the right balance of power and simplicity for most. I want to like Logitech’s solution, but having to tether the puck to the PC to install/configure has been a turn off. Maybe I’ll do a round up in a few weeks.

  8. Beacon is currently on firmware 0.4.15. It has a better remote for Microsoft’s Windows Media Center. It’s labeled as Microsoft DVR.

    I’ve configured the iPad 2 I have to run it. There’s allegedly another update “in the pipeline”, and a dedicated iPad app on they way.

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