Take Control from Your Android Device
We're not yet at the point where one device can rule over everything, but we're getting awfully close — especially when it comes to controlling your TV set as well as other smart devices. A multitude of apps can turn your Android phone into a remote control for your TV, PC, media center and a variety of smart appliances. Check out this collection of Android remote control apps for the couch potato in you. (Image Credit: Manaemedia/Shutterstock)
Android TV Remote (Free)
The Android TV Remote serves as a generic universal remote for Android TVs, providing basic D-Pad, touchpad and gamepad controls for navigating your Android TV's interface. The app also includes support for voice controls, as well as the use of your phone or tablet's virtual keyboard to input text. The app connects to your Android TV through your local network or via Bluetooth.
Amazon Fire TV Remote (Free)
Amazon's Fire TV set top box is a pretty neat video streaming device, especially if you're running with a Prime account. While the Fire TV box already comes with a WiFi-capable remote, you can take things to the next level with the Amazon Fire TV Remote app, which copies the functions of the handheld remote, turning your touchscreen into a navigation pane, complete with playback controls, a virtual keyboard, and voice command support.
AIR Remote Free for Apple TV (Free)
AIR Remote Free for Apple TV turns your IR blaster-equipped Android device into a replacement for the Apple TV remote, mirroring both the classic button controls and the swipe view, with tap controls mirroring those on the remote hardware. AIR Remote Free does require an IR blaster, with support for the LG G3 as well as a range of Samsung and HTC models. The app is ad-supported, with a premium version removing advertisements.
Peel Smart Remote (Free)
The Peel Smart Remote app tries to do one better than other TV Remote apps by being both a replacement for a TV remote and a personalized TV guide app. Input your cable provider and/or zip code to bring up a list of upcoming broadcasts and mark your favorite shows, your guilty pleasures and shows you don't want to see. The app learns from your selections, creating personalized suggestions, as well as reminders of upcoming screentimes. Unfortunately, the remote control features require an IR blaster such as that on the Galaxy tablets, making it incompatible with numerous Android devices.
Anymote Universal Remote ($4.99)
If you've got an IR blaster mounted inside your smartphone (HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S6, LG G3), try Anymote. This little app turns your blaster-equipped smartphone into a universal remote for a wide variety of appliances, from TVs, set top boxes, DVD players or just about any device that accepts IR commands. The app has a lot of cool features, such as the ability to create custom remotes that bring together commands from different devices into a single screen (for example, turning on your TV, DVD player and sound system on with a single tap) and the ability to create custom macros. The app can also function as a WiFi remote for a variety of devices and apps, such as Sonos speakers, the Kodi media center, or VLC.
Mi Remote (Free)
You don't need a Xiaomi phone to take advantage of the Mi Remote app — which is good since Xiaomi phones aren't on sale in the US. But Mi Remote will work with almost any phone with a built-in IR blaster, whether you're packing a Samsung, HTC, or Huawei device. Mi Remote is a multi-purpose IR remote app, compatible with a wide variety of IR-controlled devices, such as TVs, air conditioners, set top boxes, DVRs, projectors, and digital cameras. You can even use the app as a remote control for smart TVs that accept commands over standard Wi-Fi protocols.
Universal TV Remote Control (Free)
Universal TV Remote Control allows you to use your phone's IR blaster to send commands to more than 300 different brands and models of TVs, as well as commands to smart TVs through Wi-Fi. The app supports a wide variety of devices with traditional IR receivers, and the smart remote features don't even require an IR blaster on your phone — just a Wi-Fi connection to pair to your TV with.
ASmart Remote IR (Free)
NXRSoft's ASmart Remote IR works with built-in IR blasters on Samsung and HTC phones to send commands to a variety of appliances, from TVs and set-top boxes to air conditioners and DSLR cameras. The app comes with a number of built-in remotes, with more being added, and you can organize your remotes into rooms for convenient sorting and use.
ZaZA Universal TV Remote (Free)
The ZaZa Universal TV Remote app uses the internal IR blaster of Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, HTC, Lenovo, Huawai and TCL phones to provide a universal remote app that supports a wide variety of appliances. The app contains a searchable database of more than 300,000 appliances across 8,000 brands, which you can sort through by brand and model, covering everything from TVs and air conditioners to smart light switches and DVD players.
CetusPlay Remote (Free)
The CetusPlay Remote app serves as a WiFi-based universal remote app for a variety of set-top boxes and devices, such as Android TV and Fire TV. Simply install the remote app on your phone and the CetusPlay receiver app in your TV, and it'll guide you through the rest of the setup process and give you a rundown of app features, such as a variety of control modes, media Casting from your device, launching TV apps, screenshots, and more. The app is ad-supported, with a $5.99 in-app purchase to remove advertising.
Smart TV Remote
Adiroid's Smart TV Remote requires a bit more setup than other remote control apps, but this IR/Wi-Fi remote app works with a wide variety of hardware and TVs, from your device's internal IR blaster or an external IR device, as well as a W-iFi based controller for a number of older Samsung smart TVs. Perhaps among the best features of the app is its configurable interface, allowing you to easily create channel hotkeys and lay out the buttons as you wish. There's also support for multiple devices so you can command your TV, set-top box, and stereo all from a single app.
Universal TV Remote
Universal TV Remote (formerly IR Universal Remote) turns your IR blaster-equipped smartphone into a universal remote for a variety of devices, such as TVs, set top boxes, DVD players and air conditioners. The free version of the app comes with a variety of pre-built remote control templates; you’re also able to create a single custom remote control that you can save. Paying for the full version of the app removes ads and unlocks the ability to create multiple custom remotes which you can share with other users.
SURE Universal Remote (Free)
Tekoia Ltd's Sure Universal Remote combines the best of IR and Wi-Fi remotes to create a truly universal remote that can handle old-school IR-controlled devices such as TVs and set top boxes while also handling smart appliances and home automation systems through Wi-Fi. The developers boast that the app supports almost 1 million appliances, and the app also allows users to create "systems" of multiple appliances that can be controlled with a single tap, for easy one-button controls to, say, turn all your living room media devices on and off.
Google Home (Free)
With Google releasing an increasing number of smart home devices such as the Google Home and Chromecast devices, the old Google Cast app has been rebranded as Google Home. While the name and the coat of paint may have changed, Google Home still does the job as the all-in-one command center for your Chromecast and other Google devices, while also supporting an expanded range of smart appliances such as lights, cameras, and thermostats. Google Home showcases a wide range of Cast-enabled apps, featuring content from these apps and allowing you to do things like use the app to open up and stream a new episode from a Netflix series. The device control tab handles everything from dimming the lights to controlling speaker volume, and you can even set automated routines to trigger with a single button press.
Amazon Alexa (Free)
Of course, Google is far from the only player in the smart home hub and home automation game. Amazon's Echo smart speaker also functions as an internet-enabled smart home hub, and the Alexa app turns your phone into a setup guide and remote control for your Alexa-enabled devices. The app can show you what music is playing and information you’ve searched for. You can let the app manage your alarms, searches, music playback, shopping lists and more, making Alexa an increasingly capable smart assistant that learns from your shopping, surfing and media habits.
Roku's streaming service on a stick provides a wide variety of shows, movies, and channels to watch, and the Roku app turns your mobile phone into a Wi-Fi-driven remote control for the streaming stick. Users can browse for movies and TV shows, enter searches through a keyboard or through voice input, add channels and games, and even listen to streamed audio beamed straight to the phone with Private listening. Of course, you'll still need a Roku device, and certain content may require premium subscriptions or purchases.
Smart Things Mobile (Free)
Of course, TVs aren't the only things that you can now control remotely from an Android phone. Samsung's Smart Things Mobile app serves as a centralized control app for devices connected to your Smart Things hub device, such as smart outlets, motion sensors, and more. Users can configure the behavior of each device, monitor the status of things like whether a smart outlet is turned on or off or whether a door is closed or open. Users can schedule actions and configurations, and the app can also connect with the Amazon's Echo smart speakers, providing you with voice control for your connected devices and switches.
IFTTT is a fantastic mobile task automation app, and it also makes a great addition to smart appliances that take advantage of the Internet of Things. The app allows users to create customized "recipes" or tasks built around the structure "If this, then that" (from which the app takes its name). IFTTT employs a wide variety of triggers and actions ranging from websites, apps, and even smart devices, appliances, and peripherals. You can even browse through other people's trending and featured recipes, as well as themed collections and all-time favorites that you can install or modify. Using a variety of triggers, from GPS to Wi-Fi connection, you can automatically turn smart appliances on or off at your return, or trigger tasks with a status message.
Kodi is a fantastic open source media center for playing local and streaming media on your HTPC and connected devices. While there is an official remote control app for Kodi (known as Kore), you can also get your hands on a feature-packed third-party remote app, Yatse, which adds on to the basics like playback controls with features such as voice control, support for Plex and Emby servers, widget controls, and custom controls. In-app purchases unlock extra features such as streaming media to and from your Android device, cloud-saved settings, and more. With an app like Yatse, there's little reason to fidget around with a keyboard or mouse for your HTPC or Kodi box, just sit back, relax, and put on your favorite shows and streams.
Unified Remote (Free)
Rather than function as full remote desktop app, Unified Remote focuses on being a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-based universal remote control for applications such as media players, slideshow viewers, and more on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. The free version of the app allows users to easily set up server software on your desktop and comes with 18 free remote controls for a variety of programs. The premium version comes with 90-plus preloaded remotes, the ability to create custom remotes and widgets, voice commands, IR and NFC actions and Android Wear support.