So, your smartphone doesn’t come with IR capability. And when I say this, I’m referring to almost all of them. I blogged about this before when I discussed how infrared control is missing. It doesn’t matter what phone it is or who made it, almost none of them come with the ability to transmit IR. (Unlike Palm Pilots which came with this ability by default). But this doesn’t mean you can’t control your television. It means you have to find another way to do it. There are several options, and all of them have drawbacks that you’ll have to live with. None of them get rid of ALL the remotes.
The first option is to get a repeater that connects via Bluetooth or Wifi. The Beacon Remote system, for example There are several companies that manufacture these, and they have their own drawbacks. For one, they need power, and for another, they have a limited range. Essentially, you place an app for controlling the repeater onto your phone and connect your phone to the hardware using Bluetooth or your home WiFi network. The repeater must be placed where it can send IR to your television or stereo components. It will require power, so you’ll either have to plug it in, or replace its batteries ever so often.
The second option is to go through your cable provider via the internet from your phone. Most of the major cable providers supply an app to do so. This won’t let you adjust your volume, unfortunately, but you can program your DVR and change Channels. I have Comcast at home, and have downloaded their app. It works fairly well, letting me switch Channels from my Nexus 7, view the catalog of channels (online TV guide), and program the DVR. But it can’t control volume or switch HDMI inputs. And then there’s the game console. Forget about it.
The third option is to purchase a set top box that controls your television. Apple TV, DVRs of many types, Bluray players, many of them provide the ability to download apps. So long as the box connects to your WiFi router, and there are apps for it, you’ll at least have some control over the Channel and the Programming.
What most of these solutions lack is integration with other systems. You might have to switch apps on your phone or tablet in order to control volume, switch between HDMI and input ports, change channels, control television video settings, and control DVR and DVD playback, not to mention simply operating your stereo (which may or may not be connected to your network).
Ideally, one app on your phone would control all of these things, and you’d be able to configure the app to send signals to your receiver for volume and input switching, to your DVR and DVD player for play/pause/skip, to your cable box for channels, etc. But that would require one system that controls all of these devices – one ring to rule them all. Without purchasing an entirely new set of components designed for that (and made by one manufacturer), the only real option to forge the one ring is to buy something like the Bluetooth connected repeater. And then you’re stuck finding a place to put this module, and burning down your phone’s battery with a bluetooth connection. Plus, you’ll STILL probably have four or five remotes on the table, one of which will be your game console controller.
Bottom line, until all components are networked, and they begin to publish developer SDKs for their proprietary accesses methods, no one’s going to be able to develop an integrated solution for all of these devices. Somewhere, somehow, someone will have a solution to this mess. And to think that the easiest thing would have been to put an IR module on a stinking cell phone!