Right now, the iPhone can double up as a remote control for the Apple TV. This is useful if the remote on your Apple TV died or you can’t find it. However, Apple could have grander plans, at least according to a patent discovered by AppleInsider that reveals that Apple could leverage UWB technology to make a next-level universal remote.
For those unfamiliar, UWB is the tech that powers the AirTag. Unlike regular Bluetooth, UWB is said to be more precise/accurate which is useful when trying to pinpoint a missing item. The patent describes how Apple wants to use UWB where they could create a remote that would automatically detect and switch functionality based on what it was pointing at.
This means that if this remote was pointed at the Apple TV, you could control the Apple TV like you normally would, but then you aim it at the HomePod and then it would detect that is what you’re trying to control and the controls would change accordingly, so adjusting the volume would affect the HomePod and not the Apple TV.
The patent also suggests that an iPhone could take advantage of this too, where the display on the phone could even change to match the device you’re trying to control. For example if you pointed it at an air-conditioning unit, its interface would be different compared to if you pointed it at your TV, and so on.
It’s actually quite interesting and could be a good way to take advantage of UWB beyond just tracking, but since it’s a patent, it’s hard to say if Apple will ever make it a reality.