30
Jul
Remote-Thumb

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One both come with IR receivers that allow them to replace your television remote. It's convenient, but that isn't necessarily true about the default apps they ship with. The HTC One's TV app tries to streamline channel surfing by placing favorite shows front and center, but it only adds clutter for someone like me who doesn't have cable television for the app to pull from. The latest update to Smart IR Remote avoids this issue and adds an assortment of other cool features, but at ten dollars, it will set you back the price of an actual universal remote.

Remote1 Remote2

Smart IR Remote offers a clean interface with core functions front and center, yet additional buttons and advanced options are tucked away where they're still easily accessible. What sets this update apart is its floating remote feature, which places a chat head-style notification on top of your other apps. This could be annoying away from home, it removes the hassle of having to switch to a dedicated app just to adjust the volume.

Remote3

Another standout feature is the ability to automatically mute the television whenever the phone rings, though this could potentially drive family members, visitors, or roommates up the wall. While this functionality is available out of the box, it's also possible for users to automate their own tasks and design their own macros. This is a power user's remote, as further evidenced by the ability for frequent ROM switchers to backup and restore their settings.

 Remote4 Remote5 Remote6

There's a catch, though. While Smart IR Remote looks similar on both the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, the same app won't work across the two devices. This may not affect most of us, but anyone with both phones will have to pay $20 to get the app installed on each. Just something to consider.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • ithehappy

    'No cable television'- justifies the existing article :/

  • nawa

    This dev is way too hungry about money to make one pay him. At least he could publish one united app instead of two. And what do I do if there is a third phone with IR? No way.

    • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

      Exactly, there is absolutely NO REASON he can't do it.

      • Bee Bee

        you actually get a refund for every purchase after the first one. just email and ask for it

        • nawa

          Well, that's a good point, then

        • Thomas’

          Won't this delete your ownership on Google Play? So technically you could trade the version, but not the app for both devices at the same time.

          • Sietai

            Yes. It would prevent you from getting any updates

      • cosine83

        Actually, there IS a reason they can't do it. HTC and Samsung interact with the IR blaster in different ways at a hardware and software level so there's no commonality between the two. It's much easier to develop two apps in this situation instead of mixing code in one app.

        • nawa

          I do understand this, but can't he just put two apps in one? No mixing, just put them both together and keep adding support for new upcoming phones. No?

          • cosine83

            I'd imagine that'd still add a ton of code complexity that just isn't worth it.

          • Sietai

            Not worth $10 a download?

        • Thomas’

          I call bullshit on that. Most of the code can be recycled, it's just the top layer which needs to be replaced.

          Remotes for PalmOS were much more complicated and low-level to implement. And even back then it was one app for all devices.

          • cosine83

            Most of the code can probably be recycled, but the important bits on how to interact with the device properly are drastically different from HTC to Samsung. Just read the code review comments on getting IrDA in CM10.1. http://review.cyanogenmod.org/#/c/44580/

          • Thomas’

            Nope, i still doubt that technical problems are the reasons.

            After reading the comments it's more likely that he just isn't allowed to use both APIs in one app, since you have to sign up for the APIs (at least for HTC) and these contracts may include some anti-competition crap.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

            Different, sure. Does it make it more complex, no doubt. Is that a reason for basically gouging? No.

            If the argument is about complexity, he could have even taken advantage of the multiple-apk feature in the Play Store, which would have allowed him to release the exact same apks under a single pname. People would just buy it once and get whatever version suited their device.

            Normally, I'll side with a developer that wants to charge a fairly high price, but not when it's both overpriced and hardware-specific.

          • cosine83

            I think the value that this app brings to a user for $10 or even $20 for two phones is easily, easily comparable to a much more expensive universal remotes with the same features. Which is what it should be compared to. The Samsung WatchON app really sucks and isn't geared towards too many non-TV devices. I can't comment on the HTC app but I know it's built on the same framework (Peel) so it can't be much better.

            I honestly didn't know about the multi-apk features which would be awesome but I honestly can't blame the developer for wanting to make money off their work. Indie app development pays shit so making $10-20 here and there for a great app with tons of features isn't that bad, imo.

        • Kevin Kintner

          Completely false, there are apps that can work with the IR blaster on both the S4 and One. Just one example: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=remote.home.squid

          • Mike Reid

            My $10 app supports 10 different APIs for access to FM radio hardware. All APIs reverse engineered; no toolkit from the OEMs like for IR.

            I can't imagine any technical reason why the APIs can't be combined in a single app.

            I also very much doubt any non-competition clause type agreement, but if someone can point to one, please do.

            So I'll presume this is a business decision, and every dev makes their own choices.

            Particularly given the piracy rates in Android, it's very difficult to make live-able money, particularly in an area such as this where there is a good bit of competition.

          • cosine83

            That app looks like shit and confusing. And almost twice the price. A majority of people aren't buying Smart Remote for both devices, only one or the other. The people who are would fall into a niche market. While their concerns are valid, they're not a niche that really needs to be catered to.

        • Asphyx

          I don't buy this at all. They may operate differently compared to each other but Android itself should be already configured to access the IR for anything installed on the unit.

          If this is true then it says to me he is bypassing the normal routines and hitting the hardware directly which any dev worth his code will tell you is a big coding no no!

    • Sasquatch4ever

      I think you meant, "this developer is way too hungry." Independent app development doesn't pay well.

    • blootz

      why don't you develop the app for both phones yourself and market it at a quarter of the price so cheepo's like you won't have a reason to complain. It's a free market, competition helps bring down price.

  • PhoenixPath

    Been using it on my One since I bought it (the One). The T-Mobile one didn't work with my TV, even in learning mode.

    This worked. Sure, it was spendy considering what I'd just dropped on the phone, but has proved well worth it since then.

    ...and if you have both phones, $20 shouldn't be a problem for you...you monster.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Too expensive for it to be worth a purchase, nothing wrong with stock HTC app, and this app looks like complete shit with most remotes anyway.

  • bozs13

    Oh noes! $9.99 for an app! Come on guys. If the app sucks then of course don't pay it. But if the app is good at what it's supposed to do...

    • Asphyx

      It's not expensive thats true but considering it will take you 20 Minutes to code all your devices into the app to test it, By the time thats done you can't get your money back because the refund window has expired!

      There should be some LITE version to try before you buy.

      • PhoenixPath

        Email the app dev. They'll either get the device working or refund your money.

  • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

    Does this work on custom roms? For example Cyanogenmod or the Google Play Edition 4.3 rom for the Galaxy S4?

    • Bee Bee

      it works on the Google Play edition of the S4

    • cosine83

      CM10.1 doesn't have the IR blaster code merged yet and the GPe doesn't support the IR blaster, iirc. If the GPe ROM does, then this app will work.

    • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

      Downloaded the APK online and confirmed its working on the AT&T Galaxy S4 (SGH-I337) with the Google Edition 4.3 Rom. Also uninstalled it pirated copy and bought it off the play store. Kudos to the developer for making an awesome app!

      • Aaron

        Also uninstalled the pirated version and got this one at a more reasonable price. Thanks to AP for highlighting the sale, I would not have known otherwise. The price is worth the prank value. I enjoy turning off TVs in pubs.

  • Michael Lane

    $20?! I'll get my fat ass off the couch and push buttons on the TV itself. Well no ... actually I won't. I'll get some potato chips then use my Logitech Harmony remote :(

    • cosine83

      $20 for both. The individual app is $10.

      • Michael Lane

        I have the HTC One, my wife has the S4, so it would end up being $20 for me.

        • cosine83

          Make her pay for her own apps?

    • PhoenixPath

      " then use my Logitech Harmony remote"

      ...that you likely paid well over $20 for?

  • Ryan Tervo

    The price seems fair, even if a bit lame to make someone purchase it twice. I have an HTC One and my wife happens to have an s4, so that would apply to me. But my biggest issue is no trial. I just wanna see if I like it then I'll gladly buy it.

    • Alina Dogaru

      Hi Ryan, dev here. Feel free to buy the app, and if you don't like it, we'll refund it. No need to hurry with the 15 minute window either.

      • Mike Reid

        I do that with my app too, and I applaud you for it.

        Only about 1% of my sales are returned/refunded.

        This works better for $10 apps than $1 apps though I guess.

    • PhoenixPath

      "The price seems fair, even if a bit lame to make someone purchase it twice. "

      How many people is that really going to affect? I know several people with two phones, but for every one of them, the second is a work-provided device, and almost always an iPhone.

      The number of people with both an HTC One and Samsung galaxy S4 can very likely be counted on one hand...even after that unfortunate incident with the lawnmower. ;-)

  • cosine83

    The best thing about this app is that it works with more than just TVs. I can use ti to control my TV, my Vizio soundbar, and it'll also work with tons of other things with an IR receiver. The dev is/was fairly responsive to requests to support devices. He added my TV brand in just a few days after requesting it. Totally worth the $10.

    • http://www.google.com/ Roshan

      Can't say it's worth that much for just a remote. But yes, it works with lots of machines. I can also control my AC with this app when I am too lazy to search for it. I wish it is 1-3 bucks so I could have own it.

      • cosine83

        If you compare it with a physical universal remote, which is what you should be doing, you'll realize the exact kind of deal you're getting. A universal remote that works with more than 3-5 devices at once, can go with you everywhere, functions as a smartphone, and has a great interface. $10 for that is more than reasonable. I really hate that Android users are always such cheapskates when it comes to apps. Anything over $5 is touted as too expensive.

      • PhoenixPath

        "Can't say it's worth that much for just a remote."

        Logitech is selling remotes for $300...

  • Erik Cho

    Haven't made the jump for the 10 bucks yet, but I am seeing one advantage in that screenshot that the S4's native app doesn't seem to support...
    I don't have cable either, so while I can control my TV with Samsung's app, I can't control my digital converter box which is the one that actually handles the changing of the channels.

    So if this really will work for that, it might be worth... I honestly don't know about 10 bucks though. But I would like to try this thing out before I make that kind of leap.

  • Joseph

    WatchOn works fine for me on S4 for both TV and DirectTV receiver.

  • Thomas’

    Reminds me of OmniRemote for PalmOS. Good old days.

  • Mike Loomis

    This is one of those apps that will become more convenient in a few years when I get a new phone, leaving the S4 as a dedicated smart remote, assuming it can do all the things a Harmony can do. This is the first time I have heard about this app so I don't know its limitations, but I am intrigued.

  • meelyg

    IR may be universal, but WIFI is more elegant.

    And there's no quality app for this in play store at the moment

  • Justin W

    This should, theoretically, work on a GP Edition of either device, wouldn't it?

    • NexusKoolaid

      Not if the APIs aren't there. They appear to be present in the S4, as people below are reporting some success, but I haven't heard about the One yet.

      • PhoenixPath

        HTC has promised support for the IR (driver-only, like the S4) in a future GPe update.

    • Matt Dowdy

      I tried out the miui rom on my s4 and the developer of that rom said that ir blaster didn't work yet but I installed this app and it worked fine and I read a review on the gp version of the s4 and the author of that article said that this app works but not on the HTC one

  • ScottyByrd

    I just use peel on my tablet.

  • PamelaLibrarian

    This is a little off topic, Bertel, but I love your reflective dock. Is that on the launcher you use or is it a custom ROM?

  • Rob Cook

    Wow the level of whiny people is amazing here. $10 for an app, ok sure it's pricey. However if it can replace a Logitech Harmony it's a steal, period. Stop bitching about a $10 app and realize what it's competing against, $50-$500 universal programable touchscreen remotes. I didn't even hesitate to recommend a $130 Logitech Harmony to my father because it has an app that turns his iPhone into a remote, that's 13 times more expensive and there wasn't a second of hesitation because I know that Logitech makes a great product that works as expected. Now for $10, if the app does what needs to be done...

  • Promethean

    Genuinely curious, why is the HTC One app 1p more than the S4 version? :D

  • Dee

    Why not include the Sony ZL . It has an IR Blaster. From what I understand, it has a learning feature in which you can use it in numerous situations.

  • John Smith

    These kind of apps will make it a lot of fun in Bars, or anywhere else there's a TV

    • wighty

      You've sold me.

  • hamood

    This app works good
    But I had a problem with my proximity because of this app
    Everytime I.start.the.app the proximity sensor stops working and I have to.restart the phone without opening the app again or else I have to restart again
    Btw am talking about the paid version and I am using galaxy s4

  • ged

    Why has your app been removed from market place ? I paid for it but had to reboot my phone and now would like to reinstall but can't find.

  • Albert

    Not available in Belgian store, when will it be? Mulțumesc

  • jamesfuston

    Just stumbled across this because I've had a One for several months and finally got a TV in my apartment. They've since unified the app for the phones and it is currently sitting at $6.99 on the Play Store

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.remotefairy&referrer=utm_source%3DPlayboard%26utm_medium%3DWidgetWeb%26utm_campaign%3DPlayboard

  • Larry Jasper

    You negative Nancys make me laugh...you'll spend 700.00 for a smartphone, you will buy countless "games" and crap for your phone....you will buy cases, and everything else for your phone and spend 100.00 or more on accessories and then complain about a 10.00 app?...hahaha...you make me laugh..This app rocks!!!!..go buy a 5.99 remote at radio shack, and 5.00 for batteries, then go show all your friends how cool your remote control is..lololol