Like it or not, TV-based operating systems aren't going away. Google TV, Samsung Smart TV, and others have all done their part to beef up your TV's IQ, and while each has found varying levels of success, none has quite gotten the situation right. One immediate problem with most options is the tool you're provided with out-of-the-box for controlling things. Typing in movie titles with anything that looks like a traditional remote is nothing short of a complete pain.
I know this is Chromecast country, but Roku was here first. The humble little WiFi streaming devices are competent and powerful, and they work with at least some online media sources that Chromecast doesn't. (Lookin' at you, Amazon.) If you're a happy Roku customer like me, then the Android remote app is probably a big part of your entertainment center. The new and improved version overhauls the user interface and adds one much-needed change.
The concept of using your smartphone as a remote isn't a new one. Modern flagship devices such as the Galaxy S4, HTC One, and LG G2 all have built-in IR blasters and ship with pre-installed apps for controlling your TV. The Play Store even has a few downloadable options with more features. Now Comcast is rolling out a remote of its own intended specifically to control its new generation of XFINITY boxes.
The latest gaming rigs are powerful enough to run circles around the upcoming generation of gaming consoles, but unless a PC gamer is willing to run a title in windowed-mode, invest in a second display, or become an alt-tab ninja, getting absorbed in a game can mean tuning everything else out. Keyboard and mouse developer ROCCAT's Power-Grid app offers gamers a way to stay immersed with much less effort. This free offering turns your Android device into a customizable remote for your PC, giving you the means to monitor system stats, play music, follow social media, and more without having to interrupt the game.
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.
When Google launched the Android Device Manager in early August, I applauded the initiative because we finally got a much-needed security solution that was built into every Android devices that ships with Google's services. Rather, it was a good start, since the functionality was so limited: location, remote wipe, and alarm.
For the last two days, I've been digging around the new Google Play Services APK 3.2.64 that started rolling out to Android devices everywhere.
The Muku Shuttr is a simple piece of hardware that reached its Kickstarter funding goal in under a week, ending its campaign with almost ten times its original goal. It appeared an audience was ready and waiting for a mobile camera remote shutter.
I'm generally fascinated by the variety of mobile photography accessories pouring out of Kickstarter lately (I eagerly backed the Lumu light meter and am awaiting my unit now), and naturally wanted to give Shuttr a try.
Just yesterday, Google posted to its Android blog about Android Device Manager – a tool that will help Android users keep their phones and data safe by offering location and remote wiping/locking features that third party solutions have until now been filling in for.
This morning, users started reporting that the service was rolling out to their devices already. Indeed, Android Device Manager is getting introduced by way of Google Play Services version 3.2.25, but it's not complete just yet.
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.
Like Google has done with its own first-party apps, Samsung has placed its WatchON app on the Play Store for easy updates. Of course, it's still limited to Samsung hardware - this version has been updated for the Galaxy S4 (and the S4 Active, and likely a few more variants as they become available). Meanwhile the tablet app is being expanded to include support for the Galaxy Note 10.1 and both 7" and 10" versions of the Galaxy Tab 2.