As noted by 9to5Mac, the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) published an interesting patent application today with Apple’s name on it.

The filing pertains to a universal touch screen controller, capable of controlling TV sets and a range of other devices, lending at least some credibility to the recent rumors we’ve heard that Apple has a connected television in the works…

As with most patent applications, Apple’s universal remote filing outlines the problems with current offerings and suggests a solution. In this case, Apple argues that current universal remote controls are far too complex for the average consumer.

“While all of these buttons and switches are necessary for complete control of the appliance, users typically use only a small subset of the total controls on the remote control. The controls that are not normally used clutter the remote control and can cause confusion to the user when trying to locate a seldom-used feature…users must spend time learning a new remote control or programming an existing universal remote control each time they purchase a new remotely controllable appliance, which detracts from the enjoyment of using the appliance after it is first purchased…What is needed is an apparatus and a method to provide remote control over multiple appliances without the difficulties described above.”

Apple’s patent suggests that the remote control should recognize nearby compatible devices through either bluetooth or wi-fi, and automatically load a graphic-based menu for the device when selected. So imagine being able to control all of your electronic appliances with a single remote (or maybe an iOS app) without any setup or programming needed. Cool.

There are already dozens of universal touchscreen remote control options on the market right now, so you’d think if Apple was working this hard on one of its own, it would have a device in mind to use it for.

What do you think?