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The Best TV Remote Apps for Android and iPhone | MakeUseOf

Did you know that it's possible to control your TV using your smartphone? All you need is one of these TV remote apps for your Android or iPhone.

TV remote apps will not necessarily work with all televisions. However, as long as you choose the best remote control app for your needs, you'll be able to operate your TV, smart home devices, set-top boxes, and more.

The Android TV Remote Control app is an official Google product. You can use it to control any Android TV device that's on the same Wi-Fi network as your smartphone.

If your Android TV device uses a wired ethernet connection (which is often recommended for smoother video playback), you can also connect using Bluetooth if your Android TV box supports it.

The remote app offers both D-pad and touchpad controls. You can search with your voice by tapping on the microphone icon (again, assuming your Android TV box supports voice search).

The Android TV Remote Control app works with all Android TV boxes, regardless of the manufacturer.

Download: Android TV Remote Control for Android | iOS (Free)

If you only want a remote app for your Amazon Fire TV device, you should check out the official app.

Like the Android TV remote app, it can control the device using a combination of touchpad and voice controls. Additionally, there's a handy text entry tool; it will save you from painstakingly typing every web address or YouTube search query using the Fire TV's on-screen keyboard.

The Amazon Fire TV Remote app displays all your Fire TV apps in a single list for quick launching.

If you have multiple Fire TV devices in your household, don't worry. The remote app makes it easy to jump between the different units.

Download: Amazon Fire TV Remote for Android | iOS

The two TV remote apps we have looked at so far both focus on controlling a specific device. But what if you want a remote control app that can manage multiple devices? You need a universal remote app.

In that case, you should check out the Universal Remote For RCA on Android. It will work with your TV, DVD player, Blu-Ray player, and several streaming devices.

Be warned that the setup process can take some time; you may need to cycle through many different RCA TV types before you find one that works.

Download: RCA Universal Remote for Android (Free)

Apple TV Remote is the official Apple TV remote app for your iPhone. It also lets you control your Apple TV from an iPad.

Like the Android TV remote app and the Fire TV remote app, you can use touch gestures and enter text using your iPhone's keyboard.

Other useful features include support for Siri, on-screen song lyrics when you're listening to music, and even a Game Mode that provides simplified controls for when you're gaming rather than watching video content.

Interestingly, the app is compatible with an iPhone's accelerometer and gyroscope; the data collected by the hardware can be fed into Apple TV games and other apps.

Sadly, there is no native Apple TV remote for Android. The best solution is to use AnyMote.

Download: Apple TV Remote for iOS (Free)

If your hardware has an infrared (IR) blaster, this is probably the best TV remote app available on Android.

For starters, it's highly configurable. You can decide what function every swipe, tap, and gesture represents. AnyMote also supports macros; with a single tap, you could dim your lights, set your TV to the right input channel, and turn on your surround sound. It's perfect for a movie night or an important sports game.

Additionally, there's support for widgets (so your most-used commands are never more than a tap away), automated tasks (for example, automatically pausing the video if your phone rings), and even a floating remote "chat head".

If your device doesn't have an IR blaster, check out AnyMote's other app---AnyMote Universal Remote.

Download: AnyMote Smart IR Remote for Android ($6.99)

Unified TV is another well-known name in the world of TV remote apps. It supports a vast number of devices and manufacturers. Supported gadgets include TVs from all the leading brands, cable boxes, and satellite boxes.

The app also works with some game consoles (including the Xbox One and PlayStation 4) and streaming devices such as Apple TV, Nvidia Shield, and Roku. It'll even work with projectors from BenQ, Canon, Dell, Epson, InFocus, Sanyo, and Sony.

Aside from the number of devices that the app supports, some of the key features are widget support, NFC support, and integration with Flic and Tasker.

Unified TV relies on an IR blaster to work, so you either need a mobile device with IR capabilities or a network-attached IR receiver.

Download: Unified TV for Android | iOS ($0.99)

Like the other big players in the streaming sector, Roku makes a mobile version of its physical TV remote. It is available for free on both Android and iOS.

The remote app is as full-featured as its physical cousin. There are on-screen buttons for Netflix, The Roku Channel, and your other Roku apps. Plus you can listen privately via headphones, and voice search is supported. You can also cast content directly from your Android or iOS device using the mobile app.

Download: Roku for Android | iOS (Free)

SURE - Smart Home and TV Universal Remote is designed for phones that have a built-in IR blaster. If your phone doesn't, you'll need to buy a Wi-Fi-to-IR convertor.

Assuming your phone has the IR capabilities, you can use the app to control your smart TV, media streamer, smart lights, air conditioner, and more.

Voice control is supported (though Alexa and Google Assistant are not), you can stream content from your phone to your TV, and there's a built-in media player.

Download: SURE - Smart Home and TV Universal Remote for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

Some readers might not be overly surprised to learn that many TV manufacturers' official remote apps are less-than-impressive. They have universally poor review scores from other users.

But help is at hand. Some developers have taken it into their own hands and produced IR-based third-party apps. This TV Remote Control for Samsung app is one such example.

There are no fancy graphics or silly gimmicks. The creator has mirrored the image of a physical Samsung remote and turned it into a touch-friendly version. The reviews are unanimously positive.

Unfortunately for iPhone owners, the app is only available on Android.

Download: TV Remote Control for Samsung for Android (Free)

Our final recommendation is an iOS-only app: Universal Remote TV Smart. You can use it to control TV models from all the leading manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Philips, Panasonic, and Hitachi.

The app is very straightforward to set up. As long as the remote app is on the same Wi-Fi network as your TV, it will automatically detect any TVs on your network.

You can use Universal Remote TV Smart to change the volume of your TV, change the channels, play/pause video, power on/off, and access settings menus and other on-screen elements.

Download: Universal Remote TV Smart for iOS (Free)

TV remote control apps are handy. They can get you out of a bind if you misplace the physical device or the batteries run out. However, even the best TV remote apps aren't close in functionality to the best all-in-one universal TV remotes.

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The Top 20 Social Media Apps and Sites in 2020 | MakeUseOf

Do you want to make sure you're using the best social media apps? After all, there are now so many social networks vying for your attention, it can be difficult choosing between them all. To help you out, we have compiled a list of the top social media apps and sites to use in 2020.

Let's start with the obvious choices.

For all its faults (and there are a lot of them), Facebook is still comfortably the most popular social network in the world.

With more than 2.7 billion users, it's the place to go if you want to easily connect with most of the people from your current or former life.

If you're more interested in looking at images and short video clips, the Instagram app might be the best social network for you; 37 percent of American adults have an account.

Perhaps unfairly, the network has developed a reputation for being superficial and full of selfies. If you dig past the junk, you can find stunning photography, incredible artwork, and plenty more.

Twitter is another network that's received a considerable amount of negative coverage. The 280-character limit (formerly 140 characters) doesn't exactly promote reasoned debate, and the presence of millions of fake bots only serves to erode the experience further.

However, if you want breaking news, instant reactions, and access to your favorite sports stars, celebrities, and journalists, Twitter is an unrivaled resource. You can even save videos from Twitter (if you find some good ones!).

LinkedIn provides social networking for professionals. As the site has grown, it's become one of the best ways to build your CV, find a new job, and network within your professional circles.

Snapchat is almost exclusively a young person's hangout; you're unlikely to find your grandma with an account. The site revolves around sharing self-destructing images and videos, though there's also a messaging tool and lots of gamification features.

Make sure you learn how to make a Snapchat filter if you're new to the app.

Tumblr is what happens when the worlds of social networking and blogging collide. You can post text, photos, videos, and other media content onto your blog page, which other users can then follow.

The network also supports HTML editing; if you're skilled enough, you can completely customize the look and layout of your page. You can even use your own custom domain name.

Tumblr is now (supposedly) safe for minors. Prior to an outright ban in December 2018, estimates suggest up to 22 percent of the site's traffic was pornographic in nature.

Pinterest is another of the best social media apps. It is best described as an image bookmarking site (though it also supports GIFs and videos). You can add images to your own public or private boards, follow other users and boards, and comment on pins.

The site is excellent if you're looking for inspiration for a DIY project or you need something to spark a creative idea in your head.

Sina Weibo is China's answer to Twitter. With more than 500 million users, it is one of the most popular social networks in the world.

The Chinese government heavily censors the site, but if you want to keep your finger on the pulse of what's happening in Asia, it is worth signing up.

Billed as the front page of the internet, Reddit is part discussion forum, part content submission site. Users can upvote and downvote posts to help influence what is popular at any given moment.

The site is divided into subreddits. They cover almost every subject matter you can think of. If you have a niche hobby, Reddit is a great place to find like-minded people.

For a good insight into Reddit, check out our list of fascinating subreddits guaranteed to blow your mind.

TikTok is one of the world's newest social media apps. It is trying to fill the space that Vine left behind after its shutdown.

There's clearly significant demand for short-form video; TikTok was the world's most-downloaded app in the first half of 2018. Here's everything you need to know about TikTok and the TikTok security risks to be aware of.

The next entry on our list of social media apps is Ask.fm. It's a question-and-answer site where users submit queries. And anyone can jump in and offer their thoughts.

The site used to be anonymous, but the suicides of two British teenagers after they were allegedly cyberbullied forced a much-needed rethink. Today, Ask.fm is one of the sites that parents should add to their block list.

VKontakte is the Russian equivalent of Facebook; it is the most popular site in the country.

The network shares many of the same features as its American counterpart, including groups, pages, private messaging, event management, image tagging, and in-app games.

Flickr is primarily a photo-hosting site. There are free and paid options. The free option used to provide 1TB of space, but at the start of 2019, the company reduced it to 1,000 images.

Users can comment, share, and like the photos that they appreciate.

Meetup straddles the divide between an online social network and a real-life social network. You can use the online tools to find groups and events that match your interests, then turn up to the group's next meetup.

If you live in a big city, the available meetups can be as diverse as sports teams to language learning groups. In more rural areas, the choices can be more limited.

If you're an expat, you should have an account on InterNations. The site lets you find other people in your city who match your language, interests, or line of work.

Like Meetup, there are plenty of physical events you can attend. Alternatively, you can just use the site to ask questions and gain insights about your adopted home.

XING is a popular alternative to LinkedIn in mainland Europe. The site offers profiles, groups, events, discussion forums, and community features.

If you want to use the advanced search feature, you will need to pay a monthly fee.

Nextdoor is a neighborhood-based social network. It has strict privacy controls, meaning only people who live in your area can join your neighborhood's specific group.

If you're looking for a way to manage neighborhood watch schemes, organize local bring-and-buys, or just keep everyone abreast of the local community's news, you need Nextdoor in your life.

Are you looking for love? Then Tinder is an app worth exploring. The online dating app is full of single users looking to meet up and spend a few hours together. And who knows what could happen next.

Foursquare is a location-based social media app. You can use it to find places of interest, restaurants, events, and other nearby locations when you're out and about.

Of course, the location-based aspect means the app faces lots of privacy questions. Which means it might not be right for you.

Yes, Myspace is still alive. Today, it's a music-themed social network. In many ways, it's filled the void left by Spotify after the Swedish company stripped away the app's best social features.

Myspace lets you both listen to music and chat about it with other users.

There are thousands of social media apps in the world. So many, in fact, that this list has barely scratched the surface. If you do a bit of digging, you'll be able to find a social media app dedicated to whatever niches interest you.

Before you jump into social media, make sure you consider the pros and cons of social media. It can be a force for harm as much as a force for good.