The simple answer: None!
Mobile devices are everywhere. When I go out to eat I see people all around me on their phones or tablets engaged in various activities at the table. These aren’t only teens! Young and old alike are being sucked in by mobile madness. I’ll admit, at times I am one of them. Some of us spend more time these days looking at these small screens than actual people. And I’ll bet, your phone is within reach at this very moment. Am I right? But how many times have you sat down to watch TV and had to look for your remote?
Well ladies and gents, since your phone is on at your side 24/7 lets just us it as a remote!
We can control just about any device we would want with our phone. Many people are familiar with universal remotes. Logitech has done a great job making them affordable and available to the public. But there are many many more control companies out there. Most with more features and capabilities. Some companies, such as BitWise and Clare Controls, do not even offer their own remote interfaces, and are based solely on use with smart phones and tablets.
I can sit down on my couch, pull out the phone that is almost always in my pocket, open an app and press “Watch TV”. This simple process will turn on my TV, AV Receiver, and DirecTV; my phone will then jump to a favorite channels page where a simple press of a channel icon will automatically take me to that channel.
Mobile control systems really shine in whole home audio systems. Lets say I am walking from one end of the house to the other and a song I can’t stand and wonder how it ever found its way into my music library starts playing when I enter the hallway. I can pull out my phone and switch the song to something that pleases my ears. No need to stop at the iPod dock, look for a remote, or even stop at an in-wall keypad to change the song. It can all be done on the go. Not only can we control these Audio/Video items, we can also control lights, shades, thermostats, alarms, security cameras, locks, and even a garage door.
All this being said, I will never recommend a control system that is 100% app based. It is an excellent add on to any system but there are slight downfalls. These app based controls are dependent on your home network (as do smart home automation systems). If you do not have a reliable network do not expect the app to be as reliable as it should be. If your network goes down, so does your control. Phones have a tendency to lock themselves after a few seconds of inactivity. Having to unlock your phone to adjust the volume of the movie playing when the phone rings or someone comes to the front door is a pain. And what if you get a call on the phone you are using as a control? What now!?
ALWAYS have a handheld remote with any control system. It doesn’t have to move around the house with you, it can stay in your living room or multimedia room but can do all of the same things the phone can. We are familiar with them; we do not have to look at the remote to change the channel or volume; we know where those buttons are and can feel them click when pressed. If you are considering attempting to use your phone as a control device, look at some handheld interfaces as well. Chances are you will use your phone as a control less than you imagine.