Griffin and Dijit jointly announced Android support for the Beacon remote on Tuesday, allowing any Android tablet or smartphone to become a universal remote control for home theater equipment. The Beacon Universal Remote Control System already worked with Apple iOS devices through a free application; the Android version is also free, although the Beacon costs $69.99.
This universal remote solution is a combination of both hardware and software. Unlike old remotes that require infrared (IR) sensors, the Dijit application on a phone or tablet communicates with Griffin’s Beacon hardware through a standard Bluetooth connection. The Beacon unit then converts commands from the remote control software into an IR signal, which it beams to a television, Blu-ray player, DVR, or any other IR-compatible media component.
The Android app is freely available in the Android Market, but does require Android 2.3.3 or better to run. An older handset then may not be compatible, but nearly all Android tablets should work with the software.
Ironically, I remember when all of my mobile devices had IR sensors, because Bluetooth was still up-and-coming; Windows Phone handsets and old PDAs, for example, mostly carried the tech built-in. Now these sensors have generally gone away, although I noticed this morning that Samsung’s newest Galaxy Tab includes an infrared port. I guess everything old is new again, after all.