Recently granted Apple patent could turn your iPhone into a whole-home remote

apple patent shows iphone as whole home remote control

You can already use your iPhone to control your Netflix streaming, home security cameras and sprinkler system, but in the future, the humble smartphone may become even more powerful. A recent report from AppleInsider reveals that Apple has secured a patent that would allow it to transform its mobile devices into supercharged universal remote controls.

The recently secured patent outlines a broad control system for the iPhone, which would integrate with not only basic home theater components like TVs, A/V receivers and game consoles, but also environmental systems and smart home devices. The interface would be able to “recall, store and set things like lighting, channels, music and window shades” under “scenes” that could be named by the user. 

iphone-remote-control-patentSo if you wanted to, say, play Halo, the remote might dim the lights, fire up an Xbox console, crank up your surround-sound system, and close the shades. With more and more TV and media content being encoded for use with second-screen apps, your media could even “talk back” to your iPhone, leaving limitless possibilities for further integration.

Apple’s expansion into multimedia control certainly stirs up conjecture that the company may be building more enticing options for an Apple television, if and when it goes into production. For now, the new remote system has us asking a more practical question: How would it work? The iPhone 5 doesn’t have an infrared (IR) blaster, or radio-frequency (RF) transmitter, which severely limits the proposed system’s ability to control devices that use these protocols for basic functions like powering on, channel control, and so on.

One simple solution would be a hub device (like Logitech’s Harmony Ultimate Hub), which connects to a local network, receives commands from the iPhone via Wi-Fi, and retransmits them housewide through IR and RF blasts. Using the hub as a “translator,” the iPhone could effectively talk with gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, TVs, and almost any other device that can use a remote. Either that, or the iPhone 5S will need to come with some very specific hardware upgrades.

One thing’s for sure: Like most Apple rumors, the company’s proposed venture into the realm of multimedia control brings up more questions than answers. Apple applied for the patent five years ago, so implementation could have already been scrapped – or still years away. In the mean time, there’s still hope. Other new devices like Philips’ hue LED lighting make the once-outlandish idea of manipulating an entire room from a single device much more feasible – and not just for the super rich.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Google Home Hub vs. Amazon Echo Show

The Google Home Hub vs. Amazon Echo Show: which is better? Both are smart displays that control your smart home, but that's where the similarities end. We compare design, features, price and more to find out which is right for you.

Surround sound on the cheap: The LG 4.1 channel soundbar system is now just $197

Surround sound is a great way to enhance your home entertainment, but a full speaker setup can get expensive. If you're looking for a simpler and affordable home theater solution, this LG 4.1 channel soundbar system is now on sale for just…
Home Theater

Comcast wants you to take control of your smart home through your TV

Comcast is looking to take on Google and Amazon as the center of your smart home. The company is reportedly testing a program that would allow broadband-only customers to turn their TVs into smart home hubs.
Smart Home

Get your glamour on with Sephora makeup videos via the Google Home Hub

Google Home and Sephora have partnered to bring the makeup giant's 2,500-plus library of makeup and beauty video tutorials to the Google Home Hub. Just say, "Hey Google," and ask for video help with hair, makeup, and more.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Product Review

Cut cable and keep quality with TiVo's 4K-friendly Bolt OTA DVR

Free over-the-air programming isn’t available in 4K, so why would you want a 4K OTA DVR? We’ll discuss what makes the new TiVo Bolt OTA a viable choice for cord-cutters with 4K UHD TVs who want to get ahead of the game.

Here are the best 4K TV deals for November 2018

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Buster Scruggs,’ ‘Missing Link,’ ‘Mowgli’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's new trailers for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Mortal Engines, and the first trailer for Missing…
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (November 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘Room 104,’ German thriller ‘Beat,’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Room 104 returns for a second season, Robert the Bruce fights for Scotland's throne, and more.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Home Theater

LG price cuts on C8 OLED TVs for Black Friday are more of a sliver than a slash

LG cut prices on its vaunted C8 series OLED TVs, but the deals aren't as good as last year, and therefore are less compelling. Still, if you're in the market for a new TV this year, we still suggest giving these deals a serious look.
Home Theater

Looking for a podcast? Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is just the ticket

Pandora has created a brand new service for podcast listeners. Powered by calls the Podcast Genome Project, the new podcast offering uses an advanced combination of algorithms and human curation to deliver the perfect podcasts for you.