I recently got myself wired! By that, I mean I got myself Spectrum phone, internet, and TV for my home. I’m still using the internet and phone, but my TV enjoyment encountered a hiccup. That hiccup was in the form of my annoying little nephew who broke my TV remote while visiting. Now, you’d probably think why I didn’t just go out and get myself a new remote? Clearly, you don’t know that the blogger life does not encourage excessive spending on anything. So instead of buying a new remote, I decided to make use of my phone.
Smartphones as Remotes
I’m sure this is not news to most of you but the best smartphones these days are equipped with IR blasters. These IR blasters are capable of sending out infrared signals to just about any remote controlled device. TVs, air conditioners, and even DSLR cameras come equipped with IR blasters, allowing you to control them with your smartphone.
All you need is an app that supports the device you want to control, and you’re good to go. Since iPhones do not come with IR blasters, this blog will focus on Android phones and apps. The trouble with Google Play is there are tons of apps, but most of them are rubbish. You really have to dig deep to find decent apps. My foray into the Play store looking for remote apps took me to some deep, dark depths. But I returned with a number of well-designed apps that work fine across multiple ranges of devices. If you are in a similar predicament as me, here are the ten best TV remote apps for mobile:
Roku is a pioneer in the TV streaming world. The company produces streaming devices that you can connect to your TV and enjoy smooth video streaming. All you need to do is plug the device into your TV, set up an account and simply start streaming. The official Roku mobile app is an excellent tool for Roku device owners. It allows you the freedom to control just about everything on your Roku. Unfortunately, you’ll still need your TV remote for volume control, but future updates may change even that. The Roku app contains a remote with all the functions you would want. It has rewind, fast-forward, navigation and play or pause buttons in a convenient layout. Not only that. There is a voice search feature as well, allowing you to search for content through voice recognition. And best of all, the app is free!
Google Home is a very well designed remote app, but it only works with Google hardware. This is a downside, but do not let it distract you from the awesome functionality of this app. The Google Home app’s primary function is to control Google Chromecast or Google Home devices. So you will need either of the two for the app to work. Other than that, the app is fairly straightforward. You can pick videos, shows, images or movies on your phone and cast them on your TV through Chromecast/Google home. Unfortunately, it can’t change channels or TV volume. But since it’s casting from your phone, reducing your phone’s volume will have the same effect. Hopefully, future updates will make it even better. The app is free, but the Google Chromecast and Google Home hardware do cost money.
Smart IR Remote – Anymote is an excellent TV remote app. Currently, according to its creators, the app supports more than 900,000 devices! And support for more devices is added frequently. The best thing about Anymote is that it is not just for TV. It supports air conditioners, DSLR cameras and just about any device that is equipped with an IR blaster. The remote is thought out and designed very well with buttons located very conveniently.
Additionally, you also get some dedicated buttons for Kodi, Hulu, and Netflix. Of course, these buttons will only work if your TV supports these things. The only downside to the Anymote app is its price tag. At $6.99, it is a little pricey, but undoubtedly one of the best apps out there.
Twinone Universal TV Remote
If you’re looking for a good TV app but don’t want to spend money on it, Twinone is for you. It is one of the best free TV remote apps on Google Play.
The best thing about it has the most simple and minimalist interface. You’ll get used to it no time. Twinone has support for most set-top boxes and TVs and for certain devices that don’t fall in either category. The only downside to Twinone is the advertising. Though a free app, the developers make money by showing ads in the app. This can get mildly annoying at times, but Twinone doesn’t offer a workaround. A paid, ad-free version of the app is one I would definitely invest in.
Sure Universal Smart TV Remote Control
The name, despite being a tad elongated, says it all. Sure Universal Smart TV Remote Control is an excellent TV remote app. It offers support for a wide variety of TVs and other IR blaster-equipped devices. The app, unlike Anymote, also supports Wi-Fi and DNLA for casting videos or images. The unique aspect of this app is that it even offers support for Amazon Alexa. That means this is the second app on this list that allows you to control your personal assistant. The UI could use a bit of work but the good news is you don’t have to buy it outright. There is a trial period where you can decide if you want to purchase the app for $4.99.
Many people are not aware of this but the Xbox app is actually a pretty decent remote app. It grants access to most parts of Xbox Live. Some of these are the news feed, achievements, messages, and much more. The app comes with a built-in remote that allows you to control the Xbox. This comes in pretty handy when opening apps and navigating interfaces. The remote grants convenient access to fast forward, rewind, back and play/pause buttons among others. You also get some buttons you’d usually need an Xbox controller for. Since many young people use their Xbox as an all-in-one entertainment center, this app makes life easier for them. The Xbox app is free to download.
Unified Remote is an unusual remote app. Unlike the other apps on this list, Unified Remote is useful for controlling your PC. This comes in especially handy for people who own home theatre PC set-setups or HTPC. Unified Remote supports Linux, Mac, and PC, making it an all-inclusive PC remote. The Unified Remote app comes with a handy keyboard to help with better control of input. Currently, there are over 12 remotes in the free version of this app, which contain most features you would need. The paid version of the app ($3.99) has NFC support, 90 remotes, as well as Android, Wear support.
Yatse is one of the best remote apps to use if you have Kodi. It allows you to cast all your media on the streaming device of your choice. Yatse is unique in offering support for Emby and Plex servers. With the app, you can control Kodi completely, access offline libraries and get excellent support for DashClock and Muzei wallpapers. Yatse is a well-designed, stable remote app for Kodi that enhances your media center usage. There is a free version of the app available as well as a paid pro version that costs up to $6.49.
Phone Specific Apps
If your phone has an IR blaster, chances are that the manufacturer included a specific remote app by default. If not, you can always find the app on Google Play. Most IR blaster-equipped HTC smartphones, for example, use Peel as a remote app. The good thing about these apps is that they are specifically tested on your phone by the manufacturer. This means that the app wouldn’t be included if it were unstable or problematic to your phone’s functioning. Unfortunately, most of these apps are very basic and don’t carry a lot of features. Luckily, phone manufacturers sometimes pre-install pro versions on upmarket phones so you don’t have to buy it.
TV Manufacturers’ Apps
Most smart TV manufacturers also provide remote apps for their products. From the manufacturer’s perspective, these apps are meant to be complete concerning functionality. Usually, these apps use Wi-Fi to connect to your smart TV. That means you don’t necessarily need an IR blaster to make the app work. TV manufacturer apps allow you to control both volume and channels, as well as select apps on the TV. Most big manufacturers come out with pretty decent apps. LG, Sony and Samsung apps are particularly well developed and stable, supporting most of their brand’s smart TVs. Others do not work as well. Luckily, most manufacturer apps are free-to-download on Google Play, so you’re not losing money even if you end up with a shaky manufacturer app.
These are the results of my exploratory expedition in Google Play. Any of these apps should put your remote needs to bed. Now all I need is an app to automatically call Spectrum internet customer service whenever my internet is on the fritz.