3 Apps That Let You Use Your Mobile Device as a Remote Control

October 27, 2013

10:00 am

It’s time. It’s time to get rid of those clunky button-bricks hiding under the couch, collecting dust on top of the entertainment center, or sitting in the corner of the room like some kind of ironic modern art. You’re in the 21st century and the only ones with any excuse to keep them around are your grandparents.

Here to help ease you into remote control separation are three useful apps that you can download to your mobile device—apps that let you harness the power of mobile freedom AND control over your devices.

1. Xbox SmartGlass

If you’ve already cut the cord to cable and get your content via Netflix, Hulu, and other apps on your Xbox, you can take advantage of the SmartGlass app. While the app is great for playback control (though it can be touchy at times), you get even more benefit in the second screen functionality. This allows your device screen to act as a media extension—think gaming HUDS—or a platform for bonus content while you watch. It also makes typing in search queries with the keyboard much easier than the controller or Xbox remote.

While Sony doesn’t have a fully integrated app for the PS3, you can use the YouTube app on your device to control the YouTube app on the system. Expect a deeper experience for the Xbox One and PS4, set to release later this holiday season.

2. DIRECTV’s App

Available for iOS and Android, the DIRECTV App gives you full control over the satellite service. You can load up your DVR playlist, play On Demand content, search for programming, and, of course, fully control playback. Obviously, you have to be subscribed to DIRECTV to get functionality, but if you have the service, it’s a much more convenient tool than the DIRECTV remote.

3. Chrome + Chromecast

If you are lucky enough to have scooped up a Chromecast dongle at debut, then you already know you’re in for a treat. With Chromecast and the Chrome browser (available as a downloadable app on most Android and iOS devices), you can stream just about any content that’s in your browser to your TV—via mirroring—essentially making your browser your remote. Apple TV users will recognize this functionality with Safari and Airplay.

Though Chromecast comes with some native apps, the selection is currently limited. So, it’s a nice solution for video content that doesn’t have the luxury of a yet-supported app, like HBOGO or NFL Network Online.

There may be some lag, depending on Wi-Fi signal strength and bandwidth. But device integration such as this is what’s making traditional remotes obsolete.

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Kevin Fischer is a techie, a gamer, a sports and entertainment buff and a freelance writer. In addition to his passion for anything geek related, Kevin enjoys going to concerts and exploring his own musical talents.

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