One of the great things about Android is the range of innovation that manufacturers bring to their phones and tablets. Some recent models, such as the current Samsung phones and tablets, HTC One and some others include an Infrared blaster (IR), the same remote control mechanism that your typical TV remote uses.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to use your phone or tablet to control all of the myriad IR capable devices in your home? Yes, it would and this app let’s you do exactly that.
ZappIR Universal IR Remote, from ZappIR, turns your IR equipped phone or tablet into a universal remote that is highly functional and customizable. You say the remote you have now doesn’t control all your devices? Not a problem, with this app you can build the remote you want and change it up anytime you like.
Features and Functionality
You start with a basic menu that lets you begin adding devices. Make sure you’re connected to the Internet when you do this, though, because the secret sauce is ZappIR’s huge database of devices, the functions they’re capable of, and the IR codes that initiate each function.
All you have to do is enter the type of device you want to control (set top box, tv, av receiver, etc), the brand of the device, and the model. To make things a bit easier you can usually opt for the generic “all models” that will likely get the job done.
After you’ve identified your component devices the “custom” part of the app comes in very handy and is where you’ll get much of the value of this app.
It lets you group multiple devices that work together, such as a cable box with a TV and an a/v receiver, and frees you from controlling each one separately.
Then, you just hit one button, “TV” for example, and it turns everything on for the function you want. Your “TV” button would turn on the three devices mentioned. The one you’ve labeled “Music”, however, would only turn on the a/v receiver.
Once set up the ZappIR app works very well. One issue we had was with the volume up and down function. The problem is that you have to tap your volume button once for every incremental change of volume rather than hold it down for a large change, as you would on a remote with physical buttons. It would be nice to have the long press be the same as multiple taps as long as you’re touching it.
Another area we’d like to see improved is the UI for setting up all the devices and especially compound commands. The process is a bit tedious and would benefit from being able to drag and drop devices and functions to make a visual flow of operation.
Finally, there is a bit of a trial and error learning curve that could be eased with a tutorial that shows setting up a couple of common functions.
Appearance and Layout
The graphics of this app are excellent and go a long way towards making your phone or tablet really become your remote. The result of your efforts is a layout that works for you and is easy for others to pick up and know right away how to work it. You can easily change a button’s color, label or function.
Unfortunately you can’t change the placement or size of buttons. If I was going to set up a remote for my mother I’d probably want just a few large buttons as opposed to my remote with many small buttons.
The developers have done a great job on all the backend and design work needed to make an app like this happen. ZappIR is an excellent app that works very well and does an amazing job of turning your device into a highly functional IR remote.
You’ll have a 10 day grace period to check it out and then it’s only $6.99 for the full purchase. A very reasonable price for all the functionality it provides.
ZappIR Universal IR Remote requires Android 4.0+ and an IR capable phone or tablet. A small expedite fee was paid to speed up the publication of this review.
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What do YOU think? We’d love to hear your comments, try it and let us know!