How to Use Your iPhone as a Remote Control

Your iPhone can do just about everything. Aside from actually placing calls as a phone, your iPhone allows you to send emails, manage your calendar, check your budget, transfer money, play games, read blogs, write blogs, take pictures, send pictures, and just about anything else you need to do on a daily basis. But did you know that your iPhone can also be used as a remote control? For almost every electronic device in your house, there’s an app for that, whether you subscribe to cable or primarily listen to music on Pandora. If your coffee table is littered with dozens of remotes, there are even gadgets to help you clear that clutter and use your iPhone as one remote to control all the things. Here are a few of our favorite ways you can use your iPhone as a remote control.

DIRECTV
Are you a DIRECTV subscriber? With this app, you can easily select a show or movie to watch or choose one to record on your home DVR from your iPhone. This app features the ability to search for any television show up to 14 days in advance, browse programs by channel or date and time, record shows by a single episode or entire series to any DIRECTV DVR in your home, and even share what you are watching to Facebook or Twitter. One of the best features of this app, in addition to its use as an overall remote, is the ability to access your DVR settings remotely. If you’re ever stuck at the office or in rush hour, you can easily set your DVR to record a show so you don’t miss a moment of tonight’s new episode.

XFINITY TV
For Comcast/XFINITY cable subscribers, you’ll want to download this app to help you find and control all the TV shows, sports, and movies available to you as a Comcast subscriber. With this app you can not only find the content you want to watch, but change channels on your TV, tune directly to on demand programs, and schedule your DVR — even if you’re not at home. The XFINITY TV app is free in the iTunes App Store.

iTunes or Apple TV
Surprise! Your iPhone is already designed to work as a remote for your iTunes and Apple TV over the same Wi-Fi network. All you need is this app, which will allow you to choose playlists, songs, and albums as if you were right in front of your computer or Apple TV — even if you’re across the house. This remote is a must-have for those who use iTunes often, or own an Apple TV. Who needs more than one remote? This app is free and can do it all for you.

Boxee
If you’ve already cut the cord on your cable, you may be using a service like Boxee to stream your favorite TV shows from the Internet services like Netflix and Pandora right to your TV. Boxee comes with its own remote, but with this app, you can turn your iPhone into a remote for the Boxee and eliminate the need for multiple remotes. The app works over Wi-Fi, and features two modes: Gesture mode and Buttons mode. This app is free.

Roku
Like the Boxee, the Roku also streams Internet TV services like Hulu and Netflix, along with other services such as Pandora, right to your TV. The Roku is packaged with its own remote, but if you always have your iPhone by your side (or in your hand), using this app might be much more convenient instead. The app works over the same Wi-Fi as your Roku, and you don’t need to configure the app. One of the best benefits, aside from removing the duplicity of gadgets, is the ability to use your iPhone’s keyboard when you need to input text using the Roku. This app is free.

Garage Door (with LiftMaster Home Control)
Using a garage door opener is so 2011. With this new app (which is free) — and the $350-$500 garage door opener kit from The MyQ enabled LiftMaster Internet Gateway (which has to be installed by a professional) — you can open your garage door with your iPhone. For large families with multiple cars, or for people who tend to lose things, this app is not only modern, but streamlines your gadgets into one device: your iPhone. You can also use the app to open a front gate or home lights that are installed with the Home Control system from not only your driveway, but anywhere in the world. (Just in case you’re on a business trip and your spouse gets locked out.)

DSLR Camera
Do you have a Canon or Nikon DSLR camera? This app can help you fire your DSLR camera over any Wi-Fi network, remotely adjust your DSLR Camera settings like white balance, shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, and start, monitor, and stop video recording on supported cameras. The app is loaded with dozens of other features as well, and is a must-have for anyone with a supported camera who has needs for a remote — and already always has their iPhone in their hand. The pro version of this app is $19.99, but a free version is also available with more limited features.

L5 Universal Remote Control
While many of the apps previously mentioned help reduce the need for using device-specific remotes, the L5 Universal Remote Control, available on Amazon.com for around $41.99, can eliminate your need for any remote. This device is two parts: one accessory that plugs into the dock of your iPhone, and one app that transforms your iPhone into a universal remote. Unlike device-specific apps, you don’t need Wi-Fi, external power, or batteries. This device works to control your TV, cable box, DVD, DVR, and most devices that come with an IR remote — which is like most of the devices mentioned above. It’s easy to set up (though you’ll need the original remotes to your devices to activate the remote for the device on the iPhone), and you can also use the app for home automation — such as opening your garage door — if the home automation system has already been installed.

New Potato Technologies FLPR Universal Remote Control
For those who don’t have the remotes to their DVR, cable box, TV, or dozens of other electronics any more, this device for the iPhone makes it easy to set up the iPhone as a universal remote. The FLPR Universal Remote Control (URC) converts your iPhone to a remote control to take charge of all the electronic devices in your home, allowing you to flip through channels, power up the surround sound system, turn up the volume, dim the lights, and close the blinds (granted that you have a home automation system that allows you to dim those lights and close the blinds in place). The FLPR Is easy to set up; just connect the infrared interface to your iPhone and download the free app, and then select the devices you want to control with your iPhone remote from the list of over 65,000 remote control codes. The FLPR is available for about $39.86 on Amazon.com, and the app is, of course, free.

Do you use your iPhone as a remote control in your home? What are your favorite apps or devices to turn your iPhone into a remote? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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  • Anonymous

    I didn’t know I could control my camera through an app!  I’ll have to see if it’ll work with my model, thanks :)

    I use HippoRemote LITE to control my computer.  I have an old tower I use as a set-top box for my TV :)  Works great for me!

  • Anonymous

    You can do it with google tv too.

  • Steve

    Love the DirecTV iPhone app, but I don’t see any way to use it as a remote. Settings, manual and scheduled recordings, yes; but no remote controls that I can see. What am I missing?

  • Steve

    Love the DirecTV iPhone app, but I don’t see any way to use it as a remote. Settings, manual and scheduled recordings, yes; but no remote controls that I can see. What am I missing?

    • https://plus.google.com/105140389465525161529?rel=author Kelly Clay

      You’re right – this app won’t replace your DirecTV remote, but it does offer some remote options to record and view details about scheduled programming.

  • Kaanozden

    and also if you have a dreambox sat receiver you can use the app called idreamremote as a remote controller and even more. you can watch connect and watch your dreambox streamed media on your iphone or ipad via dreaboxlive app. 

  • David M Spencer

    DISH? I have the DISH app on my iPhone and it does the standard DVR stuff including acting as a WiFI remote fro your DVR. You can also watch recorded shows from your networked DVRs and watch live TV.

  • Alec Silva

    I use the Fios app for my iPad and my iPhone and I love it so much. It lets me control everything on my TV even if I do not want to get my ass up and get my remote

  • Kmapjr

    AT&T Uverse app does all plus you can stream shows over 3G or dl for if you want to watch without streaming “in case your data limit is low”, Remote function also is cool, it can be set up to pair with all your set top boxes.

  • Leslie Michel

    My current iphone remote apps of choice are
    1) Remote- it controls the ancient iMac I’ve set up to be the household music slave (with the help of 2 G-Drives)
    2) Remote Tap- A fabulous utility that makes my iPhone able to do the remote desktop thing on every Mac in the house – including an old Titanium PowerBook with a dead screen, running Evocam, for a webcam server.
    3) Airport Utility- A helpful app for tweaking network settings or just restart any base station needing it. A virtual rubber mallet via iPhone!

  • Duh

    For the L5 Universal Remote Control, couldn’t you just use the proximity sensor to send IR signals?

  • Red Baron 1972

    It used to work great. Since the last forced update, it no longer works, but I can find nothing on it, and hope someone has an answer, or can find an answer. I’m coming up goose eggs.