Using the remote that came with your TV set is passé. If you've upgraded to Android TV, it's so much easier to utilize an Android smartphone or tablet as a working remote. If you were using a physical TV remote up till now, it will take just a few seconds to permanently shift to the Android experience. This guide shows you how.
Tip: Have a brand new Android TV? Here's some essential apps you can install to supercharge your smart TV.
How to Use Android Phone as Remote with Google TV App
Any Android TV will let you utilize your Android phone or tablet screens to control the big screen experience. While on one hand, it lets you use the Android TV as the output for a Chromecast or sideloading, it also allows the primary input device (your phone or tablet) to serve as a built-in remote.
Currently, the Google TV app (formerly Play TV and Movies) represents the primary method to enable a remote-control configuration on Android. If you're on Android 10 and beyond, you can readily find Google TV in a list of the core Google apps such as Gmail, Drive, Photos, Chrome, Maps, and Meet. It is important to update your phone to its latest software version.
Good to know: If you're actively using your Android device throughout the day, it would be recommended that you sanitize and clean your phone at least once per day. Here's how.
Create the Connection
- If your device supports Google TV, you can find a button named "TV remote" by doing a simple search on your phone. In the latest Android versions, the TV Remote is available as a button on the home screen.
- Once you select the option, you may not find anything on the app screen until you have configured the Android TV.
- Tap "Select a device" at the top. It will then start scanning for available TV devices.
- Once an Android TV is detected, you can see it in the notification area. Make sure that the Android TV and phone are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Using your physical TV remote, check the Android TV Settings for an option called "Apps." It may be placed differently on your specific TV model. But mostly it is easy to access via the homescreen itself.
- Now look for an option called "Android TV Remote Service." It is a Google Play app that can only be downloaded on Android TV. If you can't see this setting here, it will be visible once the pairing is established.
- If your cable provider or TV manufacturer uses a different app, keep an eye for it. If you are connecting using an Amazon Fire Stick, you will find the relevant TV remote apps on Amazon App Store.
- Wait for the Google TV remote app on your phone to connect with the television screen.
- In many cases, the pairing is established only after a confirmed device pairing request is made. This would flash a six-digit code on your screen.
- Enter the pairing code on your mobile device to pair the two.
- You should see a quick notification that the Android remote is connected to your TV or the symbol for your TV model displayed in the app.
Using Your Android as a Remote
- Look for a large "magic button" in the center. You can swipe your finger left/right or up/down in order to do things like changing channels or steering through options. This helps you navigate around your TV like a pro, especially with frequently used options on your screen.
- If you're not a fan of "swiping," click the three dots on top-right and select a "D-pad control." It is meant to resemble your TV remote.
- Aside from the swipe and D-pad controls for navigation (in the center), there is the regular posse: volume up and down buttons, stop, pause, mute and a power button.
- If you are watching YouTube or Netflix on your Android TV, you will need to type something to search. The Google TV remote app has a functional keyboard for that purpose.
- Whatever you type on the TV app will be displayed on the big screen. With this, we have completed all you need to know about how to use this remarkably handy Android feature.
Tip: If for some reason you're not receiving any signals on your television set, there is a lot you can do from checking the set-top box to the HDMI cable port and other issues on the device.
How to Use Android Phone as Remote for Specific TV Models
Does your Android phone lack support for the latest Android TV versions? In that case, it won't be able to play Google TV out of the box. The good thing is there are many third-party remote apps on Google Play specifically designed for situations like this.
- First check your TV's remote device. Look for the manufacturer, model name, and other specific information you can find.
- Try to search for remote or similar apps on Google Play connected to the specific manufacturer of your TV set. They'll be the ones most likely to work without any interference issues.
Some of the TV remote apps that you ought to consider for your specific device are listed as below.
- LG TV Universal Remote: infra-red powered remote for all LG devices.
- Samsung Smart Things: apart from television, it also controls many other remote devices such as smart speakers, smart appliances, Nest, and more.
- Panasonic TV Remote: the official Panasonic TV remote for all Panasonic models.
- RoByte: the most downloaded TV remote app for Roku TV.
Not all TV remote apps would work equally well for your television model so you will have to go through a bit of trial and error. This is where the universal remotes come in real handy as they can work with a range of models without any issues.
Controlling your Android TV with an Third-Party App
- For this demo, we will be using an app called Universal TV Remote Control (or Unimote) by SensusTech. It works very well with a host of models including Sony, Samsung, LG, Fire TV, Roku, and much more. An annoying thing about this app is the unlimited advertising. Still this app would still help explain what a universal remote control looks like.
- After you download and install the app, you will be able to see your specific TV model highlighted in the main menu. You will need to have the same Wi-Fi network for both the Android phone or tablet and TV to establish a successful connection. It can also work on a mobile hotspot, but it is advisable to keep your hotspot device always on.
- If you see a code floating around the screen, you will need to reenter this on your phone or tablet.
- Enter the exact pairing code from your TV to be given access to the universal remote app. If you make a mistake, you'll be asked to enter the code again.
- Compared to Google TV remote app, the Universal remote app, Unimote, by SensusTech has a more enhanced and natural-flowing menu, with a specific TV guide, HDMI, and other features.
Tip: Looking to upgrade to a smart TV? Here are the best Android TVs you can buy right now.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is infra-red remote control for Android TV?
Infra-red (IR) remote control is a latest technology that uses a signal called Infra-red ray blasters to control your television. You might have noticed a blue light which displays on the set-top box or other cable connections. Infra-red (IR) apps on your phone or tablet control these devices.
Are there any remote-control apps for non-smart TVs?
Yes, even if you have an older non-smart TV, you can connect it to an Android TV remote app provided your cable provider (or set-top box owner) has configured Google Play access to your monthly television subscription. The Universal remote app, Unimote, by SensusTech works with relatively older TV models and is one of the most downloaded TV remote apps on Google Play.
Why is Google TV remote app not working?
If Google TV remote app fails to work on your television device, it means you don't have the latest version of the app installed on your input device (phone or tablet.) Make sure that your Android TV is having at least Android Remote Service version 5.0 or higher. Your Android smartphone or tablet should at least have support for Android 10 and above.
Why does my Google TV keep disconnecting from Wi-Fi?
If your Google TV app keeps disconnecting from the Wi-Fi network on your television, you will need to create a successful Wi-Fi pairing between your router and the remote app. If the problem persists, then the issue lies with your television device. We have a series of troubleshooting steps to fix any connectivity problems between an Android TV and the Wi-Fi source.
Image credit: DCStudio via Freepik. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.
Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox