9 ways to use your smartphone as a Remote

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smart-phone-as-remoteMobile phones today have grown from being just gadgets that make calls or send messages to being a single source of all your information and entertainment.

But that’s not all that modern handsets can do. You can even your Android, iOS, Windows Phone or BlackBerry smartphones to control your computer, Tv and even the car!

Here are 9 free apps that can turn your smartphone into a remote control.

For cars

Viper SmartStart for your car enables you to lock, unlock or start the vehicle using iOS, Android or BlackBerry smartphones.

To make it work, you will need the Viper security system and smartphone module installed in your car. The app also remembers where your car is parked and provides directions on your phone using augmented reality.

Currently, SmartStart works only with the US-based GSM providers, though the company is working on making the app work everywhere.

For PCs/Macs

Mobile operating systems offer a number of applications to control various aspects of your PC/MAC. You can choose to control only the mouse pointer and input text, or handle applications like audio player, video player, presentations, and so on. Each app requires a small server application installed on your PC/ MAC, which is also available for free.

For Android

Gmote is a free application which lets you control your PC, MAC or Linux music and video player over Wi-Fi. It shows various controls on the screen, with the album art in the background, and can even be used to browse and select files for playback.

Another free (ad-supported) app is WIN-Remote that offers connection to your Windows PC over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It helps you manipulate almost everything — browser, task manager, video/audio players, image viewers, even presentations.

If you want to control specific media players, the Android Market and Apple App Store have free apps for common ones like VLC, Windows Media Player, Media Player classic, XBMC, iTunes & Foobar.

For iPhone/iPod Touch

One of the best free remote apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch is the Logitech Touch Mouse. It connects to your machine over Wi-Fi and converts the 3.5-inch display into an input device. You get control over the mouse pointer with multi-touch gestures thrown in, and an on-screen keyboard can be used to enter text.

Apple’s free app, Remote, is perfect to control iTunes. Apps like i-Clickr are used for presentations, VLC remote for VLC player, PowerDVD remote and a Remote X app for controlling media players with a single interface.

For Windows Phone 8 & BlackBerry

Vectir’s Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Remote lets you launch and control VLC Media Player, iTunes, Windows Media Player and PowerPoint presentations. It has a remote desktop feature to view and handle desktop from BlackBerry or Windows Phone 8 devices.

The app is free for the first 30 days, after which you need to buy a licence for the desktop server app (one-time cost of Rs 320). Vectir also supports Java phones with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi from various manufacturers.

For home appliances

Crestron is one of the leading brands for home automation. Though each installation usually comes with its own universal remote control, Crestron also provides apps for iOS and Android devices.

These apps connect to the Crestron system using Wi-Fi (for seamless access anywhere) and allow you to remotely control the home appliances or gizmos that are wired to the system. You don’t even need to be at home to control your air conditioning or lighting; you could do it from any place that you can access data connection.

The basic Android app is free, but the Pro version for iOS and Android costs 5,000.

Apps for media players

Due to the growing popularity of smartphones, most consumer electronics manufacturers have started providing dedicated free apps for their media devices. Samsung, LG, Philips and Sony have their own apps for the Android & iOS platforms to control their flat-screen TVs, Blu-ray players and home theatre systems through wireless connectivity.

You can navigate the menu, change settings and input text using an on-screen keyboard. Samsung’s SmartView app lets you stream the TV content to your Android device, while Philips’s MyRemote app lets you view pictures from the mobile device on TV. LG offers separate apps for its TVs and Blu-ray players.

For WD TV media players, the WD TV Media Players Remote app is available on the Android Market, and works with WD TV Live or Hub. Though Western Digital doesn’t develop the app, it works well over Wi-Fi.

Logitech Harmony 1100i

The Harmony 1100i has a 3.5-inch touchscreen, which does away with the need for multiple buttons. Depending on what you’re doing, the relevant controls show up on the screen. The functions like volume/channel change, which are used the most, have backlit buttons.

The activity-based controls let you perform multiple actions with one button. For instance, ‘watch TV’ will turn on both the TV and set-top box. It can control 15 devices at a time.

URC R40

The URC R40 can control up to 18 devices across brands, thanks to the on-board IR code database.

Unlike other devices, URC provides easy, on-screen directions on how to set up a new device without the need for an internet connection. The 1.5-inch OLED screen displays information and options to control the connected devices.

It can be set to switch on/off multiple components at once, control the sound of all connected devices, and has backlit keys that light up when it’s dim.