Review

 

Able Remote is a new app for Google TV that turns your Android device into a remote control for your GTV.  Google has already provided users with an official Google TV Remote app- but Able Remote’s developer, Entertailion, aims to one up them with a more intuitive interface, improved voice command functionality, and one touch app launching. How does the Able Remote Google TV app stack up against the competition? Read on below…

 


 

Features

Able Remote boasts all the same features of the official Google TV Remote app, plus a little extra. Here is a quick rundown of the features:

 

  • Touch navigation and controls -- Simple swipes across the screen of your Android device provide navigation of your Google TV. This includes touch controls for playback and a cursor touch navigation and tap to click option.
  • View Pics and Vids on your Google TV -- From the gallery of your Android device, you can send pictures and videos directly to the big screen of your Google TV.
  • Viral button -- A push of the “Viral” button will take you to a trending viral video.
  • Send web pages to Google TV -- Just click “Share-->Able Remote” while viewing a web page on your Android device and it will be sent directly to the screen of your Google TV.
  • One touch app launcher -- A single touch on your Able Remote can launch an app, no need to navigate menus.
  • SMS and Caller ID sent to Google TV -- If you receive an SMS or phone call while using your Android phone as a remote, the SMS and caller ID notifications are forwarded to your Google TV.
  • Voice commands -- Change channels, launch apps, or search using voice commands.
  • Control almost everything -- You can control certain features of devices such as receivers, set top boxes of different types, and televisions with the Able Remote Google TV app.

 Able Remote app for Google TV Screenshots

User Interface

Able Remote’s user interface is a refreshing change from the official Google TV Remote. Able Remote has the same buttons (functionally) as Google TV Remote, but spreads them over two screens. This allows for more space to make the buttons larger, and leads to a less cluttered interface. Able Remote’s buttons are a dark grey highlighted by day-glo green, giving it the look similar to a standard television remote with glowing green buttons. These grey buttons contrasted with the day-glo green highlights make the interface dark enough to not disturb your television watching, but also bright enough to easily see what you’re doing in the dark.

 

The touch pad portion of the screen, where you swipe and tap, is located at the bottom of the screen (where your thumb would naturally fall) on Able Remote versus the top of the screen on Google TV Remote. This is a nice change, making overall use more intuitive  and virtually eliminating any accidental button clicks.

 

 

The first two screens house the same buttons as the Google TV Remote, but there is a third screen with buttons that are not available on the Google TV Remote. These are the quick launch buttons that will launch apps with one touch. No need to navigate to the home screen or your app drawer, just click the app and it launches from whatever screen you’re on. The drawback to these quick launch buttons is that the only apps currently available (aside from the Viral button) are pre-installed apps like Netflix, Pandora, Chrome, Android Market, etc. There is no ability to customize what apps are on your quick launch menu, but Able Remote’s developer tells me this feature will be included in a future update.

 Able Remote app for Google TV Screenshots

Another aspect of Able Remote’s user interface is the voice command function. With the official Google TV Remote’s voice control users must push a button, speak, then push another button to either “Search” or “Send”. Able Remote eliminates the need for that second button push, and adds more functionality to the voice command feature. With Able Remote you can not only search by voice- you can also launch apps or change the channel by the sound of your voice.

 

 Performance

While I didn’t do full feature tests, I did put the Able Remote through some heavy usage (with Motorola Droid and Samsung Galaxy Nexus) and have had no major issues with it’s performance. My Logitech Revue responds promptly to my swipes and taps from the Able Remote. Voice commands work well as do the one touch app launcher buttons. Sending pictures, video and web pages from my phone, although a bit sluggish, works as well as it does with the official Google TV Remote app.

 

Able Remote Android Market

Click for Able TV Remote -- Google TV App

 Click the image above for the app you need to install on your Google TV

Then install this app on your Android device

 

Conclusion

Able Remote has replaced the official Google TV Remote app on my Android phone. It offers greatly improved functionality over Google TV Remote and is so intuitive that I rarely have to glance down at my phone when using Able Remote. The buttons are big enough for regular sized hands, one touch launch buttons are quite convenient, and the voice commands are well implemented.

 

On the negative side, I think the GUI could use a little more polish. Perhaps rounding on the buttons and icons, and giving them a more three dimensional look would be nice. Customization of the apps available on the quick launch menu is a much needed feature. You will probably have several apps on the quick launch that you won’t use and will wish you could replace.

 

In conclusion, I give Able Remote four stars out of five.  With a little more polish, and some customization features Able Remote would get that fifth star in my book. I’d recommend Able Remote to anyone wanting to get more out of their Google TV remote control app.

 


 

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