Are smartphones the best remote controls?
Hell hath no fury like an Apple TV owner forced to use the set-top box's standard remote. The metallic sliver and its click wheel of misery are perhaps the most frustrating remote controls to ever torment a living room. It's much easier to use the software version of the remote, which allows iPhone and iPad owners to control their televisions without invoking the wrath of ancient and terrible gods every time they have to search for "Breaking Bad" on iTunes.
Apple isn't the only company thinking that smartphones and tablets are the remote controls of the future. Google allows its Chromecast video-streaming device to be controlled with an iOS or Android device. Microsoft allows Xbox owners to use its SmartGlass app to control the don't-call-it-a-video-game-console with their iOS, Android, or Windows devices. Some of the world's leading technology companies are trying to perfect a concept developed decades ago.
Flipps hopes to become the universal counterpart to all of those dedicated solutions. The app allows users to control some 4,000 WiFi-connected television sets, set-top boxes, and the Xbox One.
Using the app allows users to "push" content from their smartphones directly to their connected devices. A number of services offering on-demand music, videos, news, and other content types are available -- most are free, but the company plans to introduce more paid services in the future. It also hopes to form new partnerships with these content providers instead of relying on publicly available feeds, making it more like a traditional cable service with an on-demand twist.
But there are plenty of ways to access many of these services. You could purchase a set-top box, use the services pre-installed on many new television sets, or rely on a video game console for all of your entertainment needs. The main idea behind Flipps is that doing all of those things with a smartphone instead of a traditional remote or video game controller is a much better experience.
"I'm a tech guy, and with any other system I need to train myself to remember everything I need to do in order to consume a piece of content," says Flipps co-founder Metodi Filipov. "This is a lean-back experience. You’re relaxed, you have your phone or tablet around you, and we don’t have to train people to use their phones."
It's true that controlling an Apple TV is easier with an iPhone than it is with the minuscule pain-stick that ships with the device. And it will probably be even easier than waving your hands through the air or shouting arcane commands. Traditional remotes and new methods of controlling television sets have grown increasingly complicated -- bringing many of those functionalities into well designed apps installed on devices that are harder to lose beneath the couch is preferable to the alternative.
[Image courtesy _tar0_]