Update (Sept 24th): Apple added a Knowledge Base on this

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The latest beta version of iOS 7 for mobile devices and Apple TV introduces a new method of pairing your iOS device’s Remote app with your Apple TV. Previously, the pairing procedure required the use of the regular infrared remote that comes with the Apple TV. Today’s beta allows the user to simply tap the phone on the Apple TV to connect using Bluetooth. The feature requires a Bluetooth 4.0-capable device, which means only more recent iOS devices are supported.

It’s possible that Apple is using this setup process as a testing platform to decide whether Bluetooth 4.0 could be used as a method of authorizing payments, much like NFC is used on many Android phones. While Phil Schiller noted last year that he did not believe NFC was a critical feature for the iPhone, perhaps Apple is making plans to add NFC-style features via Bluetooth instead. The company could also be considering a tap-to-share AirDrop much like the “bump” feature seen on recent Nexus devices and other Android phones (though Apple executives did make fun of the feature when presenting AirDrop during the iOS 7 keynote).

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10 Responses to “New Apple TV OS offers NFC-like Bluetooth iOS Remote setup”

  1. Stetson says:

    Wonder how they’re detecting the fact that you bumped them together. Does the AppleTV have an accelerometer? I don’t see why they would have bothered to put one in.

    I guess the feature could be purely on the iPhone/iPad side of things: Detects a bump while also seeing an AppleTV ready to set up within wireless range, and then does the pairing.

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    • PMZanetti says:

      It has nothing to do with “bumping”. Just a poorly worded sentence there. It uses Bluetooth Auto discoveru, and iPhone or iPad with Bluetooth turned on will see an Apple TV through the devices section.

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    • jabarker says:

      It doesn’t require you touch devices; not sure where Mike got that idea. It simply requires your phone to be on with Bluetooth on and within range (around 10 meters).

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      • Sumocat says:

        The screenshot clearly states “…touch this Apple TV with it.” I would guess that means it uses BLE proximity sensing to detect when the devices are within touch range.

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      • biggergeek says:

        It does require you to touch devices. Not sure where you got the idea it doesn’t. Read the screen shot. You speak with authority as if you have actual experience with this. The Internet should not be misused in this fashion.

        It uses features of BT4, and the accelerometer of the phone. As soon as you touch the devices together, automatic configuration begins. You never actually pair them together, you simply follow the instructions (as seen in the screenshot) – unlock, enable bluetooth, and touch. It works exactly as they say.

        Try it – then you can speak with some authority and state facts that are actually true.

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  2. As noted by The Verge, it looks like this pairs the Apple TV with your home Wi-Fi network as well.

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  3. DubTheDJ says:

    Glad to see this feature added. I’ve often had to reset ATV’s in the past and had to dig out the remote from the box to set it back up. Annoying at the time, even if its a rare thing. Nice having the option of using an iOS Device instead.

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  4. 4np says:

    Apple being all for an easy user experience and user friendliness, I think it might very well be the case that they use NFC plus Bluetooth. Perhaps you have to hold it against the AppleTV for NFC to perform a secure handshake, during the handshake it may say what the Bluetooth name of the device is, and confirm the handshake over Bluetooth. That the user has to confirm anything in the phone UI is probably a distraction and over complication of the UI for Apple, by using NFC and Bluetooth combined Apple will probably be able to automate the secure handshake.

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    • speedlimiter says:

      In this case none of the existing iOS devices could be used to do this kind of setup. The explicit mention of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 suggests, that recent devices with BLE are capable of doing this. And they don’t have NFC.

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  5. Can you please add credit for me in that photo you used? My living room seems to be everywhere now :P

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