In an age when so much TV and video content can be viewed on a computer, there is one thing that any desktop or laptop is missing: the TV remote. For many years now, sofa surfers have enjoyed the luxury of leaning back and flicking through channels with a few simple taps, something that is missing for anyone who uses HDMI to hook a computer up to their television.
This could leave you having to jump up and cross the gulf between sofa and TV on foot, a task that few would relish. However, as with so many modern inconveniences, your smartphone can be used to solve the problem, with a number of apps being available which turn your handset into a wireless mouse.
The principal of each of these involves installing a client application on your computer which allows the smartphone app to connect to it over Wi-Fi. After that’s done, your touchscreen device acts like a trackpad, with each app having its own features and quirks. Try some of these and see what works best for you.
One of the simplest and best of this kind of app, Remote Mouse offers a straightforward trackpad layout with clickable left and right buttons. An onscreen keyboard can also be brought up, allowing you to enter text in search bars and sign in to online accounts.
Usefully, any text entered appears across the smartphone’s screen. One problem we have noticed with hooking a computer up to a television is that you can sometimes end up too far away to read onscreen text comfortably, and this is a handy solution to the problem.
Working in very similar fashion, Mobile Mouse has a few extra features that increase its functionality beyond that which Remote Mouse can offer. Along with standard mouse/trackpad controls, there are volume and track skip keys for use with a music player, and an app tray which allows you to switch between the applications that are open on your computer.
All this does make the app’s interface a little more cluttered, but where Remote Mouse is great for simple TV viewing, Mobile Mouse is good for making further use of a computer’s functions.
Air Keyboard is the halfway point between the others. Despite its name, the app offers a full trackpad control and the keyboard itself is an extra feature, albeit one that works well.
Some additional controls are in place, including those for music playback, but they don’t get in the way of the app’s minimalist interface at all.
Along with all these apps, there are several ways of bypassing your computer and using your smartphone to control your TV directly, all from the comfort of your sofa. Take a look at our tips on using your smartphone as a TV remote.