YouTube Remote controls playback from afar

Lean back, tune to YouTube on your computer, and use your Android phone as your remote.

In an obvious effort to turn YouTube into more of a TV-like experience, Google has created the YouTube Remote app for Android devices. With this free download, you can pair your mobile device with a desktop computer or YouTube-ready television, and use Android to share control of your YouTube playlist.

As great as the concept is for YouTube Remote, in practice, I see some things that need to be ironed out. My biggest gripe is that the device pairing process is not as simple as it should be. You must first navigate to YouTube.com/leanback on your computer or TV for instructions. From there, pairing your devices requires you to input multiple codes on your big screen and your small screen. Then, after all that, you may have to reload the page in your browser to activate the connection (I did). Fortunately, devices remain paired even when you close your browser or restart your mobile device, so shouldn't have to go through the process very often.

Once you get started, YouTube Remote works well enough. It doesn't give you the full capabilities of YouTube, but it lets you search for or browse through videos, access your subscriptions, and create playlists. And of course, all of your basic playback controls are there as well. With a share feature, you can even surrender some control of your screen to friends. Tap and hold the screen to pull up the share command, then give your other Android-toting friends the generated "Party Code." With this, they can add items to playlists, pause, play, and shuttle through videos along with you.

While this screen-sharing feature is built into the newest version of YouTube for Android, unless you're running OS version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher, you won't be able to use it. That's where the YouTube Remote app comes in. It's certainly not perfect when it comes to user experience, but it does what it's supposed to do, and that's reason enough to download it. If you're an avid YouTuber, and you're running one of the older versions of Android, you should definitely give YouTube Remote a try.

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