WWDC 2022: here's why Front Row should return for iPadOS 16

iPad Pro with Front Row, and Apple Remote
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Having been a Mac user on and off since 2006, there have been features that have been introduced, then retired, then brought back in a different fashion, such as widgets.

However, one feature that was freely available on macOS devices until 10.7 Lion, was called Front Row - an app that let you use an Apple Remote to transform your Mac into a media center, and easily select your content in one place.

While AirPlay and the Apple TV have obviously superseded this, it's a feature that I've felt has had legs to stand on iPadOS again in a new form.

With WWDC happening today (and you can follow along right now with our excellent WWDC 2022 live blog, let me explain why I'd like to see this return in either iPadOS 16, or as a further update down the road for the iPad line.

Finding the better row on iPad

The Mac has changed from being the center of an entertainment hub to being a device for productivity and, to a point, entertainment. But as the iPad and AppleTV grew, there was no need for Front Row to exist on macOS.

However for some, the iPad is primarily seen as a content consumption device - for reading, listening to music, and watching content.

This is where a new Front Row could work perfectly on Apple's tablet line. Imagine placing an iPad on your bedside table, and instead of having to walk up, or ask Siri to play something and hope that she complies, you use an Apple Remote, and Front Row takes over the display.

You could quickly select your Apple TV Plus shows, your Apple Music, or, third-party apps that could be allowed to use Front Row, so you would be able to look at your playlists on Spotify, or catch up with the Obi-Wan Kenobi series through Disney Plus for example.

iPad has seen a new input before

Back in 2020 with the arrival of iPadOS 13.4, the trackpad was introduced as a way to use a mouse cursor on the iPad, alongside Apple introducing a Magic Keyboard accessory that had a trackpad built-in.

There's no harm in having the Apple Remote gain functionality to the iPad as well. The tablet has always been seen as a modular device - as a way to move between different uses to help with media, work and more. Front Row and the Apple Remote can be another way of adding to this.

However, this may be a feature that's left as a bittersweet memory, as Apple may have other plans for the iPad in how it wants to make access to content easier. But Front Row was a simple and elegant solution to using your content in a great way, and for the iPad, it feels like a no-brainer to add it in its future.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.