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How To Video: Use your Galaxy S4 as a universal remote

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How To Video: Use your Galaxy S4 as a universal remote

4:05 /

Samsung's WatchOn app and the S4's IR blaster give you control over your TV, set-top box, and more. Plus, the app's programming guide puts all of your favorite shows at your fingertips.

-Samsung is turning your S4 into a smart universal TV remote. With the built-in Infrared Blaster, you can control your TV, cable box, streaming media player, and AV receiver without ever lifting the clicker. You'll even get recommendations on what to watch based on your interest and your viewing history. Well, there's a lot to dive into here, so let's set it up. Launch the Watch On app to get started. The first time you launch it, the app will ask you about what kind of shows do you like. This is for those recommendations I mentioned. Uncheck the genres you don't like and rearrange them in order of which you like best. Then you'll be taken to the main interface. This is what you'll see each time you launch the app. But before we dig into that, I still have to pair my phone with my TV and cable box. Tap this remote icon and then hit set up now. I'll select Samsung as my TV brand then the app will try to figure out which code pairs with my TV. When it gets the right one, the TV turns off and I know I got it right. Then I'll pair the cable box with the phone and I know it's set when my phone successfully changes the channel-- looks like we're good. Now that my phone is paired with my TV and my cable box, let's test it out. I'll just choose a show from this list here. Hit watch now. And it works. Let's dig into the personalized interface. This area is what I call the catalog. You can tap through different times here or go to this left side bar to browse in other ways. The app let's you filter by movies, TV shows, and so on. When you find the show through the catalog, a card comes up. Like I did before, hit watch now to switch to that channel. But also check out these options down here. Make a habit to like or dislike shows so the app can give you better recommendations on what to watch. Back in the side bar, this channel guide is like your on-screen TV guide except better, because you can actually edit it and remove channels you never watch. To do that, hit the menu button and hit edit channels. Now what about using the S4 as just a regular remote, no matter what you're doing, that option will always be available up here. You get the simple remote with volume controls that you can change up and down, and channel controls too. But if you swipe up, there are more options like access to DVR features for recording and viewing, or even the TV's menu. Back in the catalog, open the menu button and go to settings. Here there are two things to look at. Room is where you can add another home theater set-up located in a different room. It's also where you edit your existing room to make changes or even add more devices. Here's where you add more components like an AV system, Roku box, and anything else you want to control. Below that, there are some notification options. These are the settings that really make Watch On work. Take this first option to make the remote show up in the notification bar for easy access. And turn on the second option to have it appear in your lock screen. So, you don't even have to unlock your phone to change the channel. You can even set it up so that it only appears in your lock screen when the app knows you're near the TV. Just tap it to set it up. Obviously this app has a ton of features and even challenges the way you interact with your TV. But with a little practice, you might find yourself discovering new shows, thanks to those smart recommendations. If you have any questions on the way, hit me up on Twitter and check out howto. CNET.com for more tips on the S4. For CNET, I'm Sharon Vaknin.
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