It's become a habit for me to check the tech specs of new Mac® models to see whether there have been any changes with regards to the Apple® Remote.
While, for the past few years, no changes have been made by Apple® in this area, they made two with the most recent updates:
The new MacBook®
The new, white MacBook® is no longer equipped with a built-in IR Receiver. It's not listed on the tech specs page (not even as optional accessory) and also not listed as an option in the Online Store.
The new iMac®
The new iMac® still has a built-in IR Receiver, but no longer comes with an Apple® Remote.
The new Apple® Remote
The new Apple® Remote has an entirely new design. Its enclosure is made of aluminium and - from what I can see on the pictures - it's thinner than its plastic predecessor. Another change is the button layout. The Play/Pause button moved from the middle of the navigation cross down into one line with the Menu button.
My first assessment (from just looking at the pictures) is that this button layout change will make using the Apple® Remote less intuitive and will produce more user errors because the Play/Pause and Menu buttons can now be easily confused. And not having the Play/Pause button in the middle of the navigation cross just doesn't feel right.
I'll buy one of the new Apple® Remotes as soon as they're available for separate purchase in Germany and may have to share some more thoughts on its design then.