Smartphones have been getting more intelligent for years now, so it was only a matter of time before mobile developers added TV remote capabilities to their products.
Universal Electronics, a top technological provider for wireless remote control of consumer electronics and digital media, announced last month that Samsung would be incorporating their WatchOn technology into the company’s latest smartphones, which would allow users to control their TVs with the device’s built-in infrared sensor.
Meanwhile, Apple has made their Apple TV all the more usable by allowing people to control it with their iOS devices, like the iPhone or iPad. The product comes with a nice, little remote, but users often have several troubles with it. Firstly, it’s easy to lose. Secondly, it doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard or even a number pad, which makes the searching for programs a hassle.
Now, anyone can use their Apple TV more quickly and efficiently after downloading the free app and following some simple installation instructions. Many say that the ability to use their mobile device is a big step up from the remote, since the former uses WiFi rather than an infrared signal.
However, there are already several universal remotes on the market, many of which don’t live up to consumer expectations. Several of these aftermarket replacement remotes have poor signal strength, which means users need to be closer to the receiver for the remote to work. Plus, they have to be programmed to the cable box and the TV, a process that’s increasingly frustrating as entertainment systems grow more and more technologically complex.
What remains to be seen now is just how well smartphones will work as remotes. On the one hand, they could wind up replacing the TV remote in households that own mobile devices, but on the other hand, they may be duds like many of the universal remotes currently on the market. The only way to know is to wait, as time will tell just how successful these innovations will be.