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Gone is the era when the television remote control was a fascinating, much cherished device and beloved member of the family.
By conventional standards, the TV remote is old hat - nothing new or exciting. And while still practical and very helpful around the living room, its stature has been steadily diminished by a wide array of much neater, sexier gadgets in recent years.
This summer served yet another blow to the ego of remote controls everywhere, as advancements in the smartphone realm continue at a pace that could very well see the television remote facing extinction before the familiar little gadgets can even brace for it - like an asteroid penetrating our atmosphere to obliterate the dinosaurs before the poor creatures even knew what him 'em.
Okay, maybe that's a little too dramatic. But, still, an article published this morning in the San Francisco Chronicle points to how the iPhone is further adapting to our "control issues" at a quickened pace.
Apple has made it possible for iPhone and iPod Touch users to control their iTunes program or Apple TV through a downloadable application called Remote. Sonos, the maker of multi-room music systems, released a free iPhone app that allows customers to use their iPhone instead of a Sonos remote. And last week, Apple approved an app from iTV that allows consumer electronics makers to easily build iPhone apps that can serve as remote controls. ITV said the first devices to get the support are TiVo digital video recorders.
"You'll see the phone as a remote control more and more," said John McFarlane, CEO of Sonos. "It's better than any infrared device you've picked up. It's a wonderful platform, and you don't have to train someone to work with another device."
As the article suggests, the future is still being written. But electronics-makers and cable companies are endlessly fascinated by this concept. And the newfound emphasis on our smartphones controlling the simple facets and tasks of our life could dramatically change all that we are familiar with in home entertainment.
"I don't know anyone who loves the remote control," he said. "It's either line of sight issues, or for me I have to change the batteries. Or you grab the wrong one. If people are consuming more media, to have an application that eases their burdens makes a lot of sense."