Google TV Remote Android app raises the bar

by Ian Black

Leave it to Google to raise the bar on the TV remote control. Note: You'll need access to a Google TV — currently only available integrated into a Sony television or as a set-top box from Sony or Logitech — in order to experience the future of remotes, Google TV Remote.

The remote control comes in the form of an app available in the Android Market. You can download the app without owning a Google TV, but when you launch the app, the first thing it does is scan for a Google TV over wifi. If it doesn't find one, your only choice is to exit.

Once connected, the app is a breeze to use. You'll find every control you have on your current remote control — even most turbo-charged universal remotes — plus more. You start, stop, forward and rewind, step through channels, and adjust the volume, even bring up a TV guide or control a DVR.

But that's just the start. You can search right from the remote via touch screen typing or by voice — try that with your current remote. You can browse the full Internet over your TV, and use your remote like a mouse to click, select, and navigate. You can even take content from your phone — like videos and photos — and easily display it on your TV.

No more fighting over who holds the remote. Every Android phone in the room can connect to, and control, the TV simultaneously. This feature will either create harmony or cause fistfights, I'm not sure which.

All in all, the concept is great. And, imagine the app upgrades Google might deliver in the future. For it to take off, we'll need to see more and cheaper Google TV units available.