Google wants to make your Android 12 phone your TV remote. Here's how it'll work

A new feature in Android 12 will work with over 80 million TVs.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read

Android 12, which is now available as a public beta, will work with Android TV.

Angela Lang/CNET

One announcement followed another at Google I/O on Monday, including a major redesign to Android 12, Google's operating system for nearly 72% of the world's phone users according to Statista. For example, notifications are getting a new look, there are several new privacy features -- including a dashboard -- and it's going to be better integrated with Google's Chrome OS platform. 

As part of the bundle, Google is giving Android users more control of devices within its own Android TV ecosystem. More specifically, Android will soon feature a built-in TV remote app that makes it possible to control TVs using only your phone. (You won't need Android 12 to use it, too.) With over 80 million Android TV OS devices, it makes sense that Google would want to improve the overall experience with such a valuable feature.

The next time you lose your remote control, you won't have to stress -- just open the new remote app and keep on streamin'. Here's what you need to know. 

How do I get the new Android TV remote feature?

Google will release the Android remote feature for devices running Android 11 and up. That includes the freshly revealed Android 12, which right now is only available through the public Android 12 beta. Google has said the remote feature won't make its debut until later this year. 

Here's what the remote app looks like and how you can use it. 


How will my phone work as a TV remote?

From the announcement, the Android TV remote feature looks a lot like the Apple TV remote app on the iPhone and iPad. 

Brett Pearce/CNET

The top of the interface is a blank space that's used as a gesture pad, where you can swipe and tap your way around Android TV. Move between apps, select a show or go back to the home screen with the onscreen controls. It looks like buttons to control volume and power are also included in the app. 

But my favorite part isn't being able to get around Android TV, it's the ability to use your phone's keyboard to type usernames and passwords, or search for shows. It's going to save everyone some time and headaches. 

I can't wait to get my hands on the new remote feature; hopefully, it'll happen sooner than later.

Which Android phones are compatible? 

You'll need specific hardware for the new Android remote to work with your TV, but odds are if you have a newer Android phone and an Android TV OS device, you'll be just fine. Here's what we know so far. 

  • Devices running Android 11 and above will have the app built in once it's launched. 
  • Almost all Android TV OS devices will have support for the remote tool built in. 

That's it. As long as you have a phone with the TV remote app and a TV running the Android TV OS, you're good to go. Note that your Android TV OS device will need to have a system service called "atvremoteservice" installed. Some older Android TV OS devices (it's unclear which) won't have access to the required service. We'll have to wait until the feature launches for more information, but from my understanding, nearly all Android TV OS devices will work with this feature. 

Want to know more about everything Google announced at I/O 2021? Check out or Google I/O roundup. If you're interested in testing Android 12, you can do that right now. Here are some of our favorite features in Android 12 that you're sure to love as well. 

Watch this: Google turns Android 12 into a TV remote