"But there wasn't even a new Apple TV in today's announcements - I had one of these for three months, thanks to Apple, and had to return it yesterday, which I thought might mean something."
I don't see why there would be a new apple tv announcement --- they only just released the new apple tv a few months ago.
"but the search function with that otherwise beautiful and handy little remote is an absolute verging-on-unusable pig. Why Apple hasn't released an iOS app for this still mystifies me."
There IS an app to control apple tv (remote app) and it works really well. The tech reporter got this completely wrong.