GEAR4 turns your iPhone into a universal remote without ridiculous plug-in hardware. Instead of connecting your iPhone to a bulky and usually unflattering add-on peripheral, the UnityRemote sits in the centre of the room and interacts with the iPhone via Blueooth, meaning no physical connection is required. As soon as you walk in the door and boot up the app, you’re ready to go.
As a Bluetooth device, the remote not only works with the iPhone, but also the iPod touch and iPad. And it’ll control everything from TVs to Hi-Fis, Blu-Ray players to digital TV boxes – anything that has an infrared receiver. Even if your home entertainment kit isn’t listed in the device’s extensive library, it can learn how to control the product – there is almost no product that this won’t work with.
The device itself is a small, black sphere with four infra-red outputs set in opposing positions to flood the room was infra-red instruction. It’s powered entirely by three AA batteries, so there are no trailing cords to worry about. Although there’s no word on battery life, with Bluetooth and IR, it’d be safe to assume that purchasing some rechargeables would be a good (and green) idea.
The iPhone app, the brains of the operation, takes full advantage of its medium. Alongside traditional buttons, users can set gesture-based controls to affect the TV – swipe up to change volume, for example, or to the side to scroll through channels. It’s a totally novel way of television control – one that definitely needs to come as standard on new TV remotes.
The app’s interface is also extremely customisable, letting the user programme it to display only relevant controls. It can also mix and match, so television volume controls can be merged with the DVD player’s ‘play’ and ‘stop’ functions, for a one-stop solution to home movie playback.
Users can also set-up ‘actions’ to control multiple devices simultaneously. For instance, after setting the system up, one touch of an ‘action’ and the remote could turn on the TV, DVD player, digital TV box and their home cinema sound system.
The UnityRemote is available now from John Lewis retailing at £99.