Using the HTC One M8 for Windows as a TV remote

Did you know that the HTC One M8 for Windows can control your TV? The One – both on Android and Windows Phone – comes with an infrared (IR) blaster built into the top of the device. Combined with their HTC Sense TV app and your One goes from a smartphone to a smart-remote.

See how it works in our hands on video.

As already mentioned, there are two parts in getting this to work out of the box: the IR blaster and the accompanying software called HTC Sense TV. Users simply launch the app and it walks them through two setup steps, including pulling down their local TV and cable stations from their provider, and setting up the TV remote.

Although the HTC One M8 is only sold in the US on Verizon right now, it is expected to go global in the coming months. As a result, the HTC Sense TV app can also handle every cable provider in just about every country around, so this is not just a US feature.

Once you entered in your cable or satellite provider, you can set up the remote to control your TV or cable box, letting you change channels at will.

The HTC Sense TV app displays what is currently on TV with three categories, including shows, movies and sports. From there, it is like browsing Netflix as shows and movies are represented visually with a poster of the program. Below each image is a little status bar informing you how much of the show has already aired. Tapping into a show gives you details, including which episode and description. When you are ready to watch, you can hit the 'watch now' button to change your TV to that station.

Smart-remote apps are certainly an exciting expansion of the smartphone. Afterall, you almost always have it with you and it sure beats channel surfing to find what is new (and it is usually much faster than cable TV 'smart guides').

HTC Sense TV and the IR blaster are neat additions to a category of devices where this feature is not the norm. Although you may not need it, it is an excellent bonus feature to consider when making your next purchase.

As a side note, the Verizon Samsung ATIV SE also has an IR blaster and a very well done app called WatchON, meaning Verizon customers have some great choices these days!

Would you use your smartphone as a TV remote or is a gimmick? Let us know in comments why or why not.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

166 Comments
  • Would use it, will be disappointed not to see it on Lumias in the future!
  • +935
  • It's especially awesome now that watching television is rapidly losing in interest in favor of Netflix and similar stuff. Especially in western Europe tv has it difficult. Really a feature I would be happy to miss on a Lumia, especially since I can already control my tv and all using a wifi remote app anyway. Easier to aim and doesn't require an ugly IR diode somewhere on my device. To me this is a typical gimmick. A feature with no future. It just exists because in Androidland, where this device comes from, people can't differentiate on the usual, as the software is all the same anyway, and so is the hardware, that brands just pull off weird stuff like this to pretend to be 'special'. Not really needed on WP as a Lumia already offers a pretty solid list of stuff that even this Windows HTC doesn't offer. Starting with a useful camera and all the screen, audio and network innovation Nokia has.
  • That TV, just a fad... Where did I hear before?
  • Every OEM has its own "innovation" - cos' almost nothing is new, that doesn't mean that Nokia owns the best of all. And IR is not just a gimmick, it's actually helpful when you can't find your remote or you're doing it from the outside or something. And it's especially fun when you can actually use it to "troll" on almost any device around - TVs in the bars, school projectors lol, etc..
  • I couldn't tell if you were being sarcastic for a while. Add /s to the end of a sentence/paragraph to convey sarcasm.
  • +999
  • Yeah, this one is pretty cool. Definitely not a "must have", but if available I would probably use it occasionally. But then, I already have harmony remotes on all my TVs, so I may not have as much use for it as others. To me a physical remote makes more sense so others can also use it. But this would be cool if you were in a hotel for example, or staying at someone's house who doesn't have a good one.
  • It's a must have feature: Sports bars
  • LOL. I can imagine the chaos now.
  • Yes
  • It's been on other cell phones before, even on WP (the Ativ SE). Don't see why this would spur Nokia to implement it.
  • I would use it, I still use my Treo to control stuff around the house lol, would much rather this be on a 1030 like device though, still wondering does this support USB OTG or MHL?
  • Pretty much, I'm using the Tungsten E with a 32MB SD card filled full of TV codes. Also WP does not support OTG whatsoever. There's drivers that was ported over from RT, but Nokia would need to build different USB drivers like that exist on Pre-Production Devices. I'm not 100% sure on MHL support for any of them, don't know if that a Windows Phone issue or if that's an OEM issue.
  • I have it on my Xperia S Tablet, yet as a cable cutter who relies on the internet, cough torrent cough, for my media consumption. These don't really do much except turn the volume down, etc. Would be nice to see what's on, select it, and the app changes channels, stereo settings, etc.
  • Yea, I was wondering about that.   If it does not control multiple devices and switch inputs, turn on devices and such like the Logitech Harmony brand of remotes then it's unlikely that I would use an IR blaster on a smartphone in place of my Harmony. That said if Logitech or another company was to write a WP program to support full functioning use of the IR blaster then I MIGHT use it full time rather than just occasionally.   I'm all for having an IR blaster on a smartphone, it just sounds like it's a feature that I won't use much.
  • I use xbmc and istream / torrents for most of my tv. On demand for cable has become a joke. They don't update shows nearly fast enough
  • Think Logitech will make a Harmony app? I really like the one touch setups for many devices.
  • I agree
  • Yes!!
  • Doubt it unless Samsung/HTC release the source code. If only it were irda instead of cir
  • Samsung does release it's code for developers to write apps for its TV's. There is an app called "Unofficial Samsung Remote" to control most of the newer TV series.
  • Wait? So the ir hardware is locked down? As long as the ir is accessible, then you can make a universal remote app.
  • Oscar remote is the best Samsung TV remote app I've tried on WP or anywhere
  • There is a SDK for the IR blaster of the Android Ones.
  • Now we're getting somewhere.
  • I have a logitech Harmony remote and still find myself using the HTC One M7 TV app ---- its great because you can have it track favorite shows, not just a channel.
  • +920 I love my Harmony, I have an older mid range model now.   I plan on buying one of their top range models in the not too distant future.   Being able to turn on devices and switch inputs via one "activity" button is great and is essential.
  • Harmony 680. I love it
  • I've got the 550.  
  • Why people don't read?
    In every article about the HTC One they said it will be released globally soon
  • Because every high end windows phone to come out this year has gone through exclusivity, meaning the international launch gets butchered. It seems the same will happen to the M8..
  • I would use it. The one for Xbox smartglass is good but missing some features. This might bridge that gap in the meantime.
  • As much as I like smartglass and find the remote functionality very good in it, this is so much better because it works on all your tv's not just the one with the Xbox one.  Plus you can see what's on via nice tiles instead of the guide.  Both work very well though.
  • That's it, i'm sold! Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • The more I see this device in action the more I want it.
  • Someone who understands me! Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • If Microsoft doesn't announce a high end Lumia phone by the time the One M8 is released on At&t I may be getting it.
  • I respect you for your decision. We cant be waiting around, kicking dirt until they finally decide to get their phones working right. This htc seems like a viable alternative too. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • I'm tired of waiting. My Focus S broke and I waited for something like this to come. It didn't. I was about to settle for the 925, but I didn't like the specs. So I got a 1020 through my insurance. I then wait again. Sigh, its the 1520. Would of bought it were a 5" device. More waiting. ICON, not on my carrier. Waiting, again. HTC One M8, FINALLY! Still technically waiting, but a device I "want" has arrived. When that High-end Lumia comes & has similar specs, but better I will buy that too.
    Oh, when my focus broke and I waited I used an iPhone. Man, was I miserable.
  • Just reading that story cause my emotional stress >< #firstworksproblems But yay for a good htc windows m8 coming! Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • The last HTC phone I had was the Tilt 2 running Windows Phone 6.5. That was a great phone. Ditched it for the Samsung Focus when Windows Phone 7 came out. I've been rocking the 920 for the past 2 years with an upgrade that I've had in waiting for the past 6 months for the McLaren and then Microsoft killed it. I could not and will not ever use Android, Blackberry, or iPhones.
  • They still sell people?
  • Why I use my Xbox Smartglas.
  • Won't work without an Xbox one. Not everybody has one.
  • Or on every TV. This let's you control every TV, cable box, and home theater in the house and group them by room.
  • Well aware of that my friend, cool feature nonetheless. Just stating with MS approach on media you wouldn't need an ir
  • I don't have cable and use an HTPC to watch OTA TV, so I use a remote control app that works over WiFi instead. Very convenient. So I won't be using this even if my phone had it. :)
  • WatchOn for the ATIV SE works with Media Center and the Xbox 360. Controls are a little stiff (no special buttons for the devices).
  • Looks like this one does too.
  • So is there a way to program it outside of that app? Say that I want to use it with my bluray player or computer (which has an IR receiver). Is there any way for those to talk?
  • I'd make use of it if my Logitech Harmony remote went kaput. Would like this on other flagships, too
  • Looks nicer than the Xbox One Smartglass app.
  • Can this control Roku boxes as well?
  • Don't see it listed
  • No, but Roku offers its own app.
  • Does it work with a Windows media center PC? I would this functionality.
  • If you can control your media center via IR Blaster, you /might/be able to manually set it up. Can't say for certain, though, seeing as I don't have it.
  • I believe so. Microsoft uses a standard IR code across all their stuff and they are listed as a cable box.
  • As I said before, this feature might cancel out the lacking camera on this phone. If both were available to me, I might take this over the 930, due to IR and microSD. HTC support worries me though.
  • The support worries me too. I've decided to do the AT&T Next program with this one.
  • Does this only work for paid-for tv or will it also work on Freeview?
  • The video shows over-the-air as one of the providers during the setup process. Pretty excited about that!
  • This is one of the best features of this phone.  Absolutely fantastic!  I love that you can setup different rooms and switch between them easily.  Plus, it controls the volume properly if you have a reciever in the mix.  They didn't miss a beat!!! I love that I can easily see what's on and even quickly see what movies are on or coming up soon. Be careful because a lot of cases don't work with the IR blaster, make sure you get one that does.  
  • The One is an exceptionally well designed device. But it just doesn't look exciting when there is Android on it.
  • Definitely. The HTC One and Windows Phone: Match made in heaven.
  • Yeah... Right... Posted via WPCentral App.
  • Cortana integration with this feature would be bad ass. Make it happen, HTC.
  • No point in this if you have an XBO and use smartglass you can do the same thing
  • Not entirely true. My daughter uses my Xbox while in the family room. So when I'm in the living room watching tv I shall use this.
  • Yea... You don't need a $500 console stuck to your system to use this.
  • Does this function require WiFi to use ?
  • No
  • Then how it works ?
  • Infra red, same as any other standard TV remote that comes with a TV.
  • The IR blaster which means it uses infrared just like a regular remote does.
  • By reading the article.
  • Why would I waste my phone battery when I have a remote control that does the job better? Maybe I'm just old, but I don't feel the need for my phone to have an app to wipe my butt when I poop and toast my bread for breakfast.
  • What remote do you use that has the images of the shows and duration of how long the show has been in play? Seriously, cause I want it.
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