IR ports are becoming a thing again with flagship devices from Samsung and HTC now commonly sporting them. They aren't used for terribly slow data transfers like back in the old days, but for controlling TVs and stuff. The built-in apps on the phones are okay, but Smart IR Remote is in a league of its own, and now it's added voice commands through Google Now. Take a gander at this video and be impressed.

The app needs to be added as an accessibility service so it can pipe commands through Google, but that's nothing to worry about. When that's done, you can start talking to your phone to control the TV. It's very clever that you can specify the number of volume steps in a single command rather than shouting at the phone five or six times to change the volume over and over until it's right. You can also switch inputs, change channels, and more.

Smart IR Remote is a little spendy at $6.99, but it offers a ton of functionality. It only works on devices with IR ports, mostly Samsung and HTC phones. The LG G3 works, but is still in beta.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Brad

    Half tempted.... it'd be neat to turn my tv on with my voice.

  • gizak

    been using this app a while, works great. Create a widget with just the buttons you need for multiple devices. Voice command option is nice, only downside is you need to make sure your phone stays pointed towards your devices. Maybe I'll hold onto my S4 and embed it into a coffee table instead of selling it lol.

    • Brad

      haha, i was thinking the same thing... get a cheap device with IR to always keep on the charger so i can always launch google now with it....

      • Sergiu Dogaru

        @disqus_rvXRdvaq1h:disqus @greatestNothing:disqus @gizak:disqus @supremekizzle:disqus

        We're actually working on a tool to fill that gap: http://kck.st/1moYVuw
        Kickstarter campaign launching on Monday morning :)

    • greatestNothing

      I've been wanting to try and see if a networked ir blaster could be controlled by an Android device using Smart Remote. They're a responsive developer and would probably try to incorporate any device you throw at them.

  • http://blog.artesea.co.uk/ artesea

    With Tasker, Auto Voice and Smart IR I already had something similar working. Was quite fun saying "OK Google, telly off" whilst in the electrical shops.

    • lynx

      I already had the same setup.

    • davisco3

      Yeah, me too. And the added bonus of not having to get your awkward search logged as mentioned by vgergo

    • Ali Mohamedali

      yeah, same setup, tasker, and auto voice. i use it to turn "hotspot on" and "hotspot" off. also use with with my hue lights, there's a plugin autohue. "lights please" turns lights on and "lights out" turns them off.

  • Fresh2infinity

    Am I paranoid or naaah? but does anyone else find it a little bit weird that google actually does a web search regardless of the command. I'm so used to thinking of search history being logged that when I start a search command and text someone a long message the fact that google is doing a websearch with my message sort of irritates me. I feel that a web search should only come up when google now does not recognize your command (send text, set reminder...etc) P.S. This was typed fast and most likely poorly written

    • vgergo

      There is a voice history too in GVS, which you can also disable (but I bet it's just hidden then from you, and Google still keeps the records).

    • ocdtrekkie

      This is because Google is actually a closed source nightmare now, and they're using kinda a hack to make this work. As far as Google is concerned, you did a web search. They're just hacking on the accessibility features to get it to also do what you tell it.

  • Taylor00

    $6.99 for a TV remote control app? No thanks.

    • Kevin Aaronson

      Do you know how much universal remotes cost? An app this powerful that can replace my remotes for 7 bucks is a complete steal.

      • LatarionMilton

        But the "Samsung smart TV" app in the play store is a universal remote that works very well and is free

        • patrick breslin

          Yes but you need to switch between all your remotes with the free app and can't have a single power button to turn your tv and your sound system on at once. Also the free app is terrible for Blu ray,it doesn't give you play, stop, fast forward or any of those controls. I just purchased the smart remote and it's more than worth the $7.

    • vgergo

      They have sales from time to time, just wait for the next one. AppSales watch is your friend.

  • Matthew Fry

    Nice! That's coo.

  • gk1984

    I have this app and a Logitech Harmony ($50 or so at the time I bought it). So... price of app isn't bad. I don't use the app much, though. It's a little uncomfortable using a touch screen to change channels... not used to it... But the app can do everything my Harmony can. So anyone looking at one or the other, the app does rock. Haven't tried the voice commands yet though. Saw this update the other day and another blog had the story.

  • vgergo

    These are so pathetic solutions, Accessibility service, XPOSED hacks, you tell your phone to change the volume on your TV, and while it does that, all kinds of useless searches are carried out and displayed on the screen.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not mocking SmartIR, or MohammadAG (a la GSAPI): Google should have given an interface or API into their Voice Search / Now system from day 0. It's supposed to be part of the Android experience now. It is rumored to be the base for the new future UI.

    It's as if they were the only ones who could place launcher icons in your app drawer, or only their apps could create notifications etc. This is not right, how could we get them to open up what should be open?

    • Ken Hunter

      It's not just 3rd party apps, you still get a useless Google search even when using 'remind me to'.

  • Robert_AU

    Interesting but it is on the high side for android app pricing. Probably partly due to the fact that the app's market is limited to certain devices I guess. I'll still with the apps from Samsung that came with my devices thanks.

  • CoreRooted

    I don't understand why apps like this are trying to tap into gNow type voice recognition when there is a Speech recognition API already in Android. It has been there for ages now (since API L3) and works quite well. Yatze Remote for XBMC has it built in and doesn't go through the gNow interface at all. Granted, the one drawback is that for continuous recognition, this would kill bandwidth, but for short commands (such as those in a remote control app), the Speech API works flawlessly.

  • supremekizzle

    Doesn't work with LG devices...

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  • Felipe13

    What command do you say for on and off? I can't get it to turn my tv on/off.

  • smikwily

    I bought this on sale a while ago and while I don't use it a lot, I like having an app that lets me do the basics without tracking down the remote. I mainly use it at night to turn the TV off when my daughter asks for "just one more minute" of her TV show for the 6th time :) She usually has the remote in her hand and has yet to figure out how I do it.