TV remotes have two core characteristics: the ability to provide users with handheld control of their displays and a knack for inexplicably turning up lost. There is, however, a solution for all the TV remotes stuck under couch cushions or chewed beyond repair. Grab your smartphone, navigate to your preferred app store and choose one of the several available TV remote apps that best fits your needs.
Here are a few to consider:
It’s hard to find a company that does universal remotes better than Logitech’s Harmony lineup. It’s going to take a bit of time to set up, and it’s going to cost you (you’ll need a $100 Harmony Hub). From there, though, you’ll be able to use the Harmony app to transform your smartphone into a remote capable of controlling your TV as well as the rest of your entertainment system. A/V receiver, gaming console, streaming device — you name it, and Harmony controls it.
Plus, if you choose to go this route, Harmony can integrate with the rest of your smart home. Essentially, you’ll be able to ask Alexa or Google Assistant to turn on the TV, and watch in awe as your display flicks on and tunes itself to your channel of choice. It may not be for everyone, but it sure is neat to see in action.
It doesn’t have nearly the bells and whistles that the Harmony app offers. But the Universal Free TV Remote Control is free on both the Apple Store and Google Play Store, and it gets the job done. The functionality here is far more basic — you get enough controls to toggle between channels, adjust the volume, and pause or resume content when available. The powerful control and customization of the Harmony Hub is missing, but once again, this isn’t costing you a dime.
It really only pertains to anyone who owns a TV with a built-in Roku operating system, but the Roku app is shockingly good at mimicking the compact, physical version of the controller. The app gives you the same functionality as the remote itself, letting you control your display even if that handy remote is nowhere to be found. And, with TCL, Sharp, Phillips, Hisense and more incorporating Roku operating systems into their TVs, this useful little app should become a staple on home screens of smartphones everywhere.
Plenty of folks still enjoy good, old-fashioned cable. Fortunately for them, Comcast created an app that brings many of the perks of its standard remote to the modern smartphone. Most notably, it puts the service’s program guide and programming information directly in the palm of your hand to scroll through at ease. Unfortunately, this app is missing volume functionality, which significantly hurts its overall appeal. Still, for anyone hoping to cable surf with their phones, this is the app to get.
Even high-end TV remotes get lost sometimes. For owners of LG’s top-of-the-line CX ($2,000 for the 65-inch version at B&H Photo) — or any other recent LG smart TV, for that matter — the LG TV Plus app is a solid substitute for the real deal. It provides access to standard functions like channel changing and volume, plus the ability to dive in and tinker with your display’s settings. The cherry on top is the app’s ability to stream content from your smartphone — be it photos, videos, or music — straight to the big screen.
Logitech’s Harmony app remains the best tool for controlling multiple devices in a smart home ecosystem, but it does require a substantial investment in the Harmony hub to get things off the ground. AnyMote won’t be as easy to use for some as the Harmony app is, but it does take a few pages out of Logitech’s book by offering the ability to initiate chain commands that set off a series of functions relating to your collection of devices. When paired with a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, AnyMote can turn on your TV, tune it to the input that your streaming device is plugged into, and change your AV receiver to the right source with just a single word.