The 9 Best iOS and Android Remote Home Theater Control Apps

Take control of your home theater system with your smartphone or tablet

Making phone calls has become an afterthought with today's smartphones. They have evolved to send email, stream content, and access websites. You can even use your smartphone as a remote control for TVs, home theater, and home automation systems. Check out some interesting remote control apps that make operating your home theater system with your phone easier.

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Harmony Control

Logitech's Harmony Control app
What We Like
  • Thorough technical support.

  • Frequently updated to support new devices.

  • Online documentation.

What We Don't Like
  • Learning curve.

  • Setup takes time.

  • May have more features than you need.

Logitech combines IR and Wi-Fi control hardware with iOS and Android apps to control multiple home theater components as well as other smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, and locks. With the Harmony Control app, you can control devices individually or combine them into "activities." For example, you can program the app to "Watch TV." Working through compatible Harmony products, it turns on the TV and Blu-ray Disc player, turns off the lights, and closes the blinds.

The app has access to the Harmony Remote Control Database, which includes codes for over 270,000+ consumer electronics, home theater, and smart home devices.

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Amazon Alexa

Using Alexa with a TV


What We Like
  • Easy integration with third-party devices.

  • Answers questions about weather, traffic, and more.

  • User-friendly.

What We Don't Like
  • Takes trial-and-error to learn the appropriate voice commands.

  • Not as smart as Google Assistant.

  • Can lag.

The Amazon Alexa app is one of the most versatile remote apps available. Whether you download the Alexa app to your iOS device or the Alexa app for your Android phone, you can link it to the Amazon Echo and some third party-devices and enable any one of several Alexa skills from there. Using voice commands, you can manage content and some basic control features for compatible TVs, home theater receivers, multi-room audio systems, environmental devices, locks, and more.

Some of the brands and products that work with Alexa include Sonos, Onkyo, and Pioneer Home Theater Receivers, Denon HEOS and DTS Play-Fi wireless multi-room audio platforms, select Logitech remote controls, Samsung Smart Things, and more.

If you have a device that is Alexa-compatible, take advantage of the Alexa App.

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Google Assistant

Google Home Works With Onkyo Home Theater Receivers

Onkyo USA

What We Like
  • Answers questions using Google Knowledge Graph.

  • Works with many mobile devices.

  • Easy setup.

What We Don't Like
  • Some limitations.

  • Clunky app interface.

  • Ad heavy.

The Google Assistant app allows your voice to control and manage content access and basic control features on home theater devices that have Chromecast built-in or are compatible with Google Assistant.

In addition, Google Assistant can be used to operate a growing number of smart home hubs and devices, including lights, switches, plugs, locks, cameras, and air-conditioners and heating systems. The Google Assistant app is available for both Android and iOS.

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Roku Mobile App


What We Like
  • Feature-rich.

  • Control multiple Roku TVs and devices.

  • Voice control.

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard randomly disappears.

  • Android app is glitchy.

  • Headphone option sometimes disconnects.

With the proliferation of Roku media streaming sticks, boxes, and TVs with Roku features built-in, the free Roku app is the perfect companion to have on your iOS or Android phone.

In addition to standard remote control features, the Roku app provides a voice control option and tappable control icons. The Roku Apps sees all the apps installed on your Roku device, and you can use it to add more.

The Roku app also allows you to share music, video, and photo content from your phone with your Roku device and provides a private listening mode. Connect earphones to your smartphone to listen to sounds from your favorite apps without disturbing others.

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SURE Universal Smart TV Remote

SURE Universal Smart TV Remote Control app
What We Like
  • Extremely easy to set up.

  • Frequent updates.

  • Adequate support.

What We Don't Like
  • Not compatible with all devices.

  • Must restart the app if there's a glitch.

  • May forget panel settings.

With IR and Wi-Fi support, the Sure Universal Smart TV Remote app can control many home theater and smart home devices. For added flexibility, Sure Remote also supports Alexa Voice control.

Also, DLNA networking allows you to browse audio and video files on your smartphone, computer, or NAS and stream audio, video, and still image content to smart TVs and other media playback devices, such as Roku. You can even use Sure Remote to copy files from shared folders back and forth between your network devices and your smartphone.

The user interface may not be as colorful and many apps—with the Sure logo on almost every page—but the tap response is speedy and easy to use. Sure Remote is freely available for both iOS and Android smartphones, but it displays periodic ads with in-app purchase support.

It is also important to note that your phone must have an IR blaster built-in to control IR-only devices.

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Peel Universal Smart TV Remote

Peel Smart Remote app
What We Like
  • Personalized viewing suggestions.

  • Stream YouTube content.

  • Visual guide.

What We Don't Like
  • Annoying lock screen.

  • Difficult to uninstall.

The Peel Remote app uses either IR or Wi-Fi to control devices. It can control most home theater components, such as TVs, DVD/Blu-ray Disc players, streaming media players (Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast), and select smart home appliances, such as air conditioners and heaters.

You can also enter your antenna, cable, or satellite service, and Peel provides you with local channel listings, along with viewing recommendations, including "trending now" and "recently watched" programs. Peel also provides listings for several popular streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu.

However, the downside is that Peel sprinkles in periodic ads. Since the app is free, viewing the ads is the price you pay to use it.

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Onkyo Controller

Onkyo Controller app
What We Like
  • Offers more functionality than the factory Onkyo remote.

  • Frequent updates.

  • Feature rich.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited device compatibility.

  • Interface is attractive but poorly designed.

  • Installation can be confusing.

Owners of Onkyo home theater models released after 2016 can use the Onkyo Controller app for iOS or Android. Owners of Onkyo 2009-2016 network home theater receivers should use the Onkyo Remote (Android) or Remote 3 (iOS) app.

The apps provide access to a variety of functions on select Onkyo home theater products (such as home theater receivers), including volume, input selection, radio tuning, navigating internet radio, streaming services, and more. The apps can also control Blu-ray Disc players and TVs connected to an Onkyo network receiver via HDMI-CEC.

You can use the app to stream music from your smartphone to a compatible Onkyo home theater receiver or other components, as well as stream audio files from DLNA-compatible servers (such as a PC or NAS). Stream from the servers for listing on your smartphone or directly from the service to compatible home theater receivers or other components.

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Yamaha Network A/V Control App

Yamaha AV Controller App
What We Like
  • Supports more than a dozen languages.

  • Easy to navigate.

  • Ideal for music lovers.

What We Don't Like
  • Tiny volume control buttons.

  • Must regularly update firmware for it to continue working.

  • Limited compatibility.

If you have a home Wi-Fi network, this app for both iOS and Android allows users of select Yamaha home theater receivers to control basic functions such as input selection, volume, listening mode selection, zone power, and settings for connected Bluetooth devices.

The app also allows control of internet radio, FM/AM, and playback from a connected USB flash drive. The Music Play function also allows you to stream music from your phone to Yamaha Network receivers.

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Control4 App for OS 3

Control4 Remote Control App
What We Like
  • Works from long distances.

  • Intuitive.

  • Easy to personalize.

What We Don't Like
  • Complicated to set up.

  • Notoriously buggy.

  • Lags.

Here is an app that allows the user to control devices that have been integrated into a Control4 for OS 3 home automation system. Depending on what is part of the system, this app can control audio and video components, navigate and manage content access, as well as lighting, heating, air conditioning, and more.

The app is available for iPhone, iPod touch, Fire tablets, Android devices, PCs, and Macs.

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