Unified Remote is one of those apps, which I’d say is must-have for those who are working from home. If you have a PC at home and a smartphone connected to the same Wi-Fi network, this app works really well in letting you control your PC with the phone. Here’s what I thought of the app after using it for a week.
What is Unified Remote?
Unified Remote is an app that you can install on your Android and iOS smartphone, which when paired with the Unified Remote desktop client, allows users to control their desktop remotely. This includes using the phone’s screen as a trackpad, using the phone’s keyboard to type into your desktop and other quick controls for specific programs like VLC media player.
Think of the app as a wireless keyboard and mouse, with many macros for specific services and programs as well as the range of your existing Wi-Fi network. Unified Remote can be installed from the Google Play Store, while the desktop client can be found on the official website.
Why would you need it?
Computers, be it desktops or laptops, are not as portable as smartphones. When you have a movie, some music or other media playing on a computer, the device will force you to stay in close proximity for when you want to skip songs, quickly reply to an email or close an unnecessary window.
Unified Remote will let you do these things while staying away from your PC, as long as you’re in the Wi-Fi range. This lets you use your phone to control music playback, switch to a different browser tab, reply to conversations and more. With mouse and keyboard compatibility, you can pretty much do everything you would be able to normally do sitting right in front of that computer.
Dedicated control over mouse and keyboard aside, Unified Remote lets you enable extra ‘remotes’ for programs like VLC Media Player, and Spotify. This lets you use quick shortcuts made specifically for those programs. There is also a power control remote that lets you put your desktop to sleep or restart or shut it down remotely.
However, if you buy the Pro version, which is available for a one time purchase of Rs 399, you can create your own custom remotes for programs. The Pro version also gets rid of the small ads on the bottom of the interface.
Another feature that really brings out the functionality here is Screen Mirroring, which is limited to the Pro version. As the name suggests, the feature will let you mirror your PC screen on your phone in real-time. This allows you to not just input data into your PC using your phone as your mouse and keyboard, but also output the display, albeit on a smaller screen.
While it’s not going to be the best picture quality on your phone, screen mirroring lets you check up on programs and other windows without being in front of the screen.
You can effectively shut off your monitor and still use most of your machine. In my personal experience, I used the screen mirroring functionality along with most of the other tools to remotely control my PC from the kitchen, or from the bed.
Other features also include a built-in file manager that lets you quickly access desktop files from the app on your phone. You can then copy/move these files around and even delete them.
Verdict: Should you get Unified Remote?
Unified Remote is a great addition to your phone’s arsenal of productivity apps. While handy with any computer, it is best used when you have a desktop at home that, unlike a laptop, cannot be moved around. Compatibility is not an issue as on the PC side, the tool supports macOS, Windows and Linux, while on the smartphone end you have support for iOS, Android and even Windows Phone.
With a free version giving you a good experience, most users can try the tool out without investing in the Pro version. However, the Pro version which thankfully is a one-time payment and not a subscription-based deal is totally worth the price.