Mobile Apps

Stream TV audio to your smartphone with Tunity

It's kind of like a poor man's Roku 3 remote, but also way cooler.

With Tunity, a muted TV isn't a problem.

Tunity

One big reason the Roku 3 is my favorite streaming box: the remote. It has a headphone jack you can plug into when you want to watch TV without disturbing others. Wireless TV audio streamed right to the clicker: genius!

Turns out there's also an app for that. Tunity streams TV audio to your smartphone. It's free, it works pretty well, and it has recently seen some useful updates (on iOS; the Android version will get them soon).

The app aims to solve two problems: TV audio you want to hear but can't (like when you're in a noisy bar, gym, airport or the like) and TV audio you want to keep to yourself (like when your spouse is trying to sleep).

Either way, you simply point your phone at the TV and let the Tunity app "scan" the screen. Although the actual scanning happens very quickly, it can take a full 10-20 seconds for the audio to kick in. So it's not ideal for channel-hoppers.

I (re)tested the app on my iPhone 6 Plus (it's also available for Android) with Comcast by way of a TiVo. The app now supports some 65 channels, including plenty of sports: Big Ten Network (go Spartans!), four ESPNs and about a dozen NBAs and NHLs. It also covers many U.S. cable heavyweights like A&E, AMC, ESPN, Food Network, TBS and TNT.

Also, the app still works only with live broadcasts, meaning you can't use it with shows you've recorded. Even if you just hit pause on your DVR, the audio will continue, effectively leaving you out of sync until you "catch up" to the live stream.

In my tests, some channels had minor audio-sync issues (not a big deal when you're watching sports). The app's fine-tuning buttons work better than before (which is good because they really didn't work at all). It's still not always clear when you should tap the forward or back button, but at least you can correct the sync with a little fiddling.

The best part about Tunity is that it remains free. This probably isn't something you'd use every day, but when you need it? Awfully handy.