How Android Universal Remote Controls Work

Getting an Android universal remote control for tablets and phones is not always an easy task and can actually be quite difficult because there are a lot of devices to choose from that differ not only in price, but also in quality, such as how good they are made and how reliable, app user interface, like whether or not it has easy to use buttons and custom macros, and functionality, such as whether you can turn up the volume when you leave the room. Part of the problem with selecting a universal remote control system for your Android phone or tablet is that you cannot know which one is good for sure until you buy it so you might end up with a lemon.


Traditional URC’s

One big issue that remains from the era of traditional URC’s where the remote was a physical remote like the ones that come for free with your TV, cable box, and stereo, is that you need to set them up. Traditional remotes come with a code database that can control all existing devices but cannot usually control ones made after the remote was made. This means that the URC’s had to have the correct code or codes “beamed” from the default remote. They had no other way of updating their code database. Beaming codes can be a tedious process, since sometimes codes for individual buttons need to be beamed as well. This makes programming the remote annoying. Plus, the buttons were physical buttons so they could not be moved around. This also meant that you were out of luck if the original remote had a function that was not supported by the URC.

Touchscreen phone URC’s do not have the same problem because new codes can be downloaded to the phone and sent to the IR transmitter via WiFi. And you can still put in new codes like you could with old URC’s if the online database is not up to date. However, Android URC’s come in two flavors that offer different functionality and may be suitable for different users depending on the user’s tastes.

Two types of Android remotes

One of the flavors is a plug-in that goes into your Droid’s headphone jack or USB recharging slot and lets you point and aim your Android like a normal remote. These usually require the least set-up time as the two flavors but they have a lot of limitations, so you will probably want to forego this option if you plan on using your TV a lot, which you will if you’re buying a universal remote control.

The other flavor is using a WiFi bridge to connect your phone to an IR transmitter. That sounds complex, but good solutions come with self-contained units. They connect your Android with your existing WiFi network to the transmitter, which is always aimed at the TV so you don’t have trouble aiming your remote at your TV and can control it when you leave the room. Also, this lets you use any number of Android or iOS devices as remotes.

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