The Android TV Remote app is an app I use often. Since the tiny SHIELD TV remotes in my house get lost in couch cushions or because they’ve become my child’s “pew pew” as he destroys the Galaxy and takes down dinosaurs, they are almost never in reach. The thing is, this app looks like it’s from 2011 and the reviews of it suggest that it perform likes its from then too. And that’s too bad, because a little love is all it needs to be great.
Take a look at the pictures here and see if you notice anything showing its age. Yeah, that home button arrived in Ice Cream Sandwich. Google has since changed the styling of it at least two times, maybe three. That’s not surprising, though, as this particular app hasn’t been updated since April 2017, well over a year ago.
The review score for the Android TV Remote app now sits at a solid 3 out of 5 stars, which is terrible for a Google app. Some of the most recent reviews suggest that its keyboard feature doesn’t work with certain keyboards, that it no longer works at all with the Nexus Player, and that it “hardly” keeps a stable connection when it is connected. It’s nothing but complaints about an app that was once a go-to for many, yet no longer works.
The thing is, Google is really pushing Android TV again and so it would make sense to get this app up and running properly. While there may not be many new Android TV boxes like the SHIELD TV, more and more TV makers are opting for Android TV as their software system. Sony uses it, Hisense now offers it, and the Oreo update that really improves the experience is rolling out everywhere.
This app could get heavy use. It’s an incredibly convenient app to fire up when your remote is out of reach or the batteries die, it only takes a couple of taps to connect it, and you can then go about your Android TV experience, since your phone is always nearby.
But not only that, it’s software, so it can get better unlike your physical remote. I still use it to enter in passwords on Android TV, because it offers a keyboard experience. For Google, especially if their software is running on TVs outside of their control that haven’t built Google Assistant into their remotes, this app offers that. It’s a universal remote too, since you can connect it on the fly to Android TVs in multiple rooms as you switch between them.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Google turn this into the ultimate remote with guides and pre-programmed buttons and such, but that’s not a terrible idea. Or maybe they build a more powerful remote like that into Google Home, since they sure seem to be investing heavily in that app.
The Android TV Remote app really is one of those apps that every Android TV user should have handy. We just need Google to show us some love.