By John Corpuz
Turn your Android phone into a remote control
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.
We've searched through the Google Play store to find the best Android remote apps available. Check out this collection of apps for the couch potato in you.
Android TV Remote Control
The Android TV Remote Control 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.
Download Android TV Remote Control: Android
Amazon Fire TV Remote
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.
Download Amazon Fire TV Remote: Android
The Yonomi app works like an all-in-one automation hub app for smart homes and appliances, using a system of triggered Routines to automate and control more than a 100 different devices from a variety of manufacturers.
As an agnostic platform that can work with a variety of systems and automatic device discovery through Wi-Fi gives Yonomi a solid draw, and the addition of recommended recipes for specific devices makes things a bit more user friendly to set up. You can even set up Yonomi to work with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, triggering Yonomi’s routines from the popular smart speakers.
Download Yonomi: Android
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. You can also expand the app with the Peel Mi Remote extension, which adds a TV guide and personalized show recommendations to the core Mi Remote experience.
Download Mi Remote: Android
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.
Download Google Home: Android
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.
Among the many different Alexa skills, the Alexa 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.
Download Alexa App: Android
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.
Download Roku: Android
Smart Things Mobile
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. You also can schedule actions and configurations, and the Smart Things app can also connect with the Amazon's Echo smart speakers, providing you with voice control for your connected devices and switches.
Download Smart Things Mobile: Android
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.
Download IFTTT: Android
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.
Download Yatse: Android
Universal TV Remote Control
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.
Download Universal TV Remote Control: Android
ASmart Remote IR
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.
Download ASmart Remote IR: Android
ZaZA Universal TV Remote
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.
Download ZaZa Remote: Android
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.
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.
Download Smart TV Remote: Android
Sure Universal Remote
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.
Download Sure Universal Remote: Android
Control4 for OS3
Control4 offers up a range of solutions for smart home automation, with users able to control smart appliances and connected utilities such as doors, heating, lights, multimedia systems and more through Control4’s OS3 home operating system. While Control4 has dedicated remote control slates and devices, you can also use the Control4 for OS3 app on your Android phone to access and command your connected devices and appliances.
Designed for improved customizability compared to previous Control4 OSes, users can personalize their interface and use the Favorites bar for fast access to frequently used devices or room controls. You also get a new active media bar for playback controls of media that you’re playing or streaming.
Download Control4 for OS3: Android
Universal TV Remote
Wait, another app called Universal TV Remote. Yes, though this one used to be known as IR Universal Remote. And it 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.
Download Universal TV Remote: Android
Anymote Universal Remote
If you've got an IR blaster mounted inside an older smartphone such as the 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 Wi-Fi remote for a variety of devices and apps, such as Sonos speakers, the Kodi media center, or VLC.
Anymote is a free download, though with an in-app purchase you can add unlimited remotes.
Download Anymote: Android
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 older phones such as the LG G3 as well as a range of Samsung and HTC models. The app is ad-supported, with a premium version removing advertisements.
Download AIR Remote Free for Apple TV: Android
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.
You'll also get a rundown of features from CetusPlay, which include 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.
Download CetusPlay: Android
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John Corpuz flip-flopped between computer science and creative writing courses in school. As a contributor to Tom's Guide he's found a happy middle ground writing about apps, mobile gaming and other geekery.
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