Back in September we reviewed a handy remote control app for the Roku video streaming devices called ROKUbox. It mostly provided a convenient substitute for a real Roku remote control, plus a few extra features. Fast forward to 2012 and ROKUbox has now become WPRemote for Roku. The name change is a result of the Roku company’s desire for keeping 3rd-party apps from being confused with official ones. Of course, there is no official Roku remote app for Windows Phone, but you know legal types are.
Additionally, the app’s version 2.0 update added a handy YouTube video playback function. See, for some crazy reason the Roku company doesn’t want to pay Google for the rights to provide an official YouTube channel on the Roku. Never mind that the Xbox 360, Sony Blu-Ray players, and myriad other devices have such channels. Thankfully the folks at Localyf have created their own custom Roku channel that plays YouTube videos.
To enable the feature, you’ll need to follow the instructions provided in the WPRemote for Roku app. Basically it involves going to the Channel Store on the Roku device and inputting a code to download Localyf’s channel. Once you’ve done that, simply press the YouTube button at the bottom of the WPRemote app. The app’s YouTube section allows you to search for YouTube videos by name and view recently played videos. Once you choose a video, it immediately starts playing on the Roku and your HDTV. You can also pin a live tile for the YouTube search function to your phone.
YouTube playback is the one glaringly missing feature of Roku devices, so it’s awesome that Localyf has found a workaround. There are other Roku remote apps for Windows Phone, but WPRemote for Roku appears to be the only one with a YouTube feature. That should be enough to make it a must-buy for Roku owners.
WPRemote for Roku costs $1.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.