New Apple Remote Sports More Current Look, Better Usability

apple_remoteIf you’re like me, you have so many white plastic Apple Remotes scattered around your living space that visitors ask if they’re part of the decor. And they were quite stylish, once upon a time. But Macs started being less about plastic and more about aluminum long ago, and the Remote has languished at the back of Jonny Ive’s design studio, disregarded. Until today, that is.

Along with new iMacs, Mac minis, mice and MacBooks, Apple (s aapl) also quietly unveiled a made-over Remote. It still does the same thing it always has, which is control you Mac or dock-connected iPod remotely, but now it does it with a different aesthetic and improved usability.

The new remote, as you can see from the picture accompanying this post, has an aluminum enclosure and black plastic buttons, borrowing a cue from the design of recent iMacs and MacBook Pros. Note also the button layout change. The Play/Pause button now resides beneath the directional/volume/skip radial button, a new neighbor for the Menu button. The positioning should be better for folks who use Front Row, in which they activate back/forward functions, but I think I prefer the old layout myself, being strictly a VLC guy.

I am happy about the change in the battery door location. You can now use a coin to swivel out the battery cover, sort of like you do on an Apple wireless keyboard. Much better than old bottom-loading batter drawer on the plastic model, which was prone to popping open and just felt generally unstable.

I’m surprised by Apple, which has demonstrated a clear distaste for buttons recently with the iPod shuffle and the new Magic Mouse. It’s only be a matter of time before the Remote gets redesigned as a touch-sensitive slap of nondescript solid aluminum, mark my words.