Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone, released at the end of April, features an Infrared port that can take control of your TV and even recommend different programmes based on your viewing habits and personal favourites.
Smart TV Radar was recently shown this new app at the UK launch of the new smartphone. It can control any TV – not just a Samsung Smart TV – as long as it has a standard Infrared remote control that the phone can mimic (which means just about every TV ever made).
The big advantage of using your phone is that it can get live electronic programme guide (EPG) data, and also keep tabs on what you like to watch and what you select as favourites – gradually getting smart enough to suggest things to watch. It’s very much like the new suggestion system available on the latest-generation Smart Hub running on 2013 Smart TVs from Samsung, but this one sits in the palm of your hand at all times.
With your phone acting as a remote control, you can also use it to control other devices, like set top boxes and Blu-ray players – and select different modes so you can manage your living room TV one minute and the spare TV in the bedroom the next. As you change modes and devices, your screen changes to become the relevant remote control – but with nice big buttons and a useful backlight.
Will Infrared become a standard feature on the smartphones of tomorrow? Well, with HTC having included an Infrared transmitter on its new HTC One and Sony adding it to the upcoming Xperia Tablet Z (Motorola has also dabbled in the past), it seems likely that a bit of technology that was long considered obsolete in the mobile phone world (last being used to transmit data from one device to another, before Bluetooth came along in 2000) may be about to make a massive come back.
Still hankering for a high-priced universal remote?