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.
Hot on the heels of BlinkFeed and the vaguely defined HTC Service Pack, HTC is hitting the Play Store with another app: SenseTV. The electronic programming guide meets universal remote control made its first appearance last year alongside Sense 5.0 on the HTC One. This looks like an update to the original which includes a redesigned style to match Sense 6, improvements to data for sporting events, and support for the HTC One Google Play Edition.
This version of SenseTV finally brings support for the IR blaster on the HTC One Google Play Edition. There have been 3rd-party apps in the Play Store that enabled the remote control functions, but this will be the first time HTC has offered complete support for the GPE variant.
Smart IR Remote has been missing from the Play Store for over a month, but now it's back, and it comes with greatly needed changes. For starters, you no longer have to purchase a separate version of the app to use it on both the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, a deal that's bigger than you would expect considering that we're talking about two $10 purchases. And since the app is currently available for 50% off, you can get support for both smartphones for just $4.99. Not only that, it should now work with any Samsung tablet with an IR blaster, and it has a new tablet UI to boot.
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.