Turn Your Smartphone into a Universal Remote

Sick of the remote pileup on the coffee table? Turn your smartphone into a remote that takes the place of all of them -- TV, DVD, game box, sound system, and more -- with one of these cool apps. Not only will it cut down on clutter, it'll be less likely to get lost among the couch cushions.

Living room with personal touches

In most cases, you just upload the app, follow its unique setup process to add your devices, and you're good to go.

The more time-consuming part may well be choosing the right app for you. Most importantly, you'll need one that works with both your type of phone and the device or devices you want to control.

Beyond that, look for features, including multiple uploads for use on many family members' smartphones, a physical remote (for when Grandma or the babysitter is over), and convenient programmable automations, such as turning the TV on when your favorite show starts or muting it when your phone rings.

Here are some popular apps to explore:

For iPhone and Android:

iRule Free

Unified Remote Free

Logitech Harmony Smart Control $129.99, includes physical universal remote

For iPhone only:

Roomie Free for one-device control, starting at $9.99 for many

L5 Remote $59, includes physical universal remote

For Android only:

Anymote $6.99 ($99 for the home automation system)

TouchSquid $14

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