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Summary:

Mobile devices will become the next generation of TV remote controls, as pay TV providers and consumer electronics companies turn to mobile apps as a way to improve search and navigation. And why not? After all, viewers are using those devices while watching TV already.

google tv remote app

Mobile devices are destined to take over as the remote controls of the future, as a bevy of mobile apps are being introduced to help users quickly find and view the content they want to watch. The trend indicates not just a frustration with the current state of navigation and search on legacy programming guides, but increasing use of so-called second screen devices while watching TV.

The latest indication of this trend came as Google announced a new remote app for its Google TV interface that will work on Android devices. The app, which will become available Wednesday on the Android market, will allow users to control their program guides, access their DVRs and send content from the mobile device directly to the TV. Google even provided a demo video to show off all the new features:

The new Google TV Android app isn’t the first remote control built for a mobile device. In fact, it’s not even the first mobile app built for controlling Google TV devices. Logitech, which makes the Google TV-powered Revue set-top box, introduced its Harmony remote control app in October. But it is part of a growing trend toward mobile devices for TV navigation.

Frustrated with the traditional “grid” guides for displaying programming lineups and video available on their TVs, consumers are seeking new ways to search and discover content. But today’s standard remote controls typically aren’t smart enough for much more than up-down-left-right browsing and navigation. While companies like Logitech have been trying for years to solve the problem with ever-more sophisticated universal remotes, many are either too big or too complicated for the average user. One need only look at the remote control for Sony devices running Google TV to realize there’s a real problem with remote control design for next-generation connected devices.

Tapping into the so-called second screen for navigation is intuitive, not just because today’s generation of mobile phones is smart and fast enough to conduct search, or because touchscreen keyboards provide a perfect input device for the task, but because today’s TV viewers are using them in the living room anyway. A growing number of users are increasingly accessing the web, texting with friends or chatting on the phone while watching TV today, so extending navigation to those devices just makes sense.

It’s not just technology companies and device manufacturers picking up on the trend, either. Pay TV distributors — many of which are typically slow to adopt new technology when it becomes available — have jumped at the opportunity to bring navigation to second-screen devices. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Dish Network, Verizon and others have all launched or announced new applications for the iPad, iPhone or Android devices as a way to browse and search their linear and on-demand TV content.

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  1. Looks good but seems to only work with the Google TV devices? Or can I control a Google Chrome browser on my HTPC using this mobile Android app?

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  2. bout time, I really needed an update of any kind. Bought a couple of 46″ GTV’s and for the most part I am satisfied. But with this new update things are looking up. I still haven’t Gotten updated. Tried manually updating and it’s not there. I will be waiting patiently thanks google…

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    1. You’re not alone. We here at GigaOM HQ have also tried updating, to no avail. Looks like Google TV blog might have jumped the gun on this post.

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  3. Apps as remotes really started almost out of the gate with the Apple app-store over 2 years ago, with Apple and companies like Sonos doing some really nice early efforts. What could even have a bigger impact than smartphones are tablets; some of the tablet remote apps I’ve seen are pretty strong and change the experience of second screen control dramatically.

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  4. I’ve noticed that Comcast has brought the remote control to my phone but I’m more fascinated by the ability to watch TV from my phone not change channels which is really why I have a remote control. I realize that with the spread of technology and the competing companies do battle for top product we will see a sort of plateau with all the top companies peaking at the same time; but DISH Network has really impressed me with innovative tehcnology and the ability to release the products ahead of the competition. I have worked with the DISH Sling Adapter which does give me full TV access on my iPhone and I have also been privileged enough to play around with the Logitech Revue which allows me to utilize the Goggle TV internet functions, and I am amazed! There is definately a large gap between what I’m seeing from Comcast and DISH Network.

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