If you're one that would prefer to use your smartphone as a remote for your TV – whether you have an Android TV, Fire TV or KODI box – then CetusPlay is a great app to pick up. It basically turns your smartphone into a remote for your TV. It's a simple, but very useful app to use, especially if you have an Android TV, Amazon Fire TV or a KODI Box, and maybe misplaced the remote. CetusPlay doesn't actually offer up a boatload of features, it keeps things pretty simple, and easy to use.
Setting up CetusPlay is really simple. All you need to do is download the app on both your smartphone and the set-top box. From there, you'll need to fire up the app on your set-top box, and open it up on your smartphone. It'll walk you through everything it can do, then you will pair your phone with the set-top box, by entering the code on the screen. And that's it. From there you are able to fully control your set-top box using CetusPlay on your smartphone.
There are a few different remote control modes available for CetusPlay. The default one is the "Dpad Mode". This one emulates a typical remote control the best. You have a few buttons at the top, with some others at the bottom and then a directional pad in the middle. The buttons at the top include Home, volume control and power. With the bottom including a menu and back button. Of course the directional pad has an OK button in the middle. The directional pad makes it really easy to navigate through the interface of the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. Now if you switch over to the Touchpad mode (using the button in the upper-right hand corner), you can swipe on your phone like you would if your TV had a touch screen. Which is perhaps an even better way of navigating through the OS.
CetusPlay does have a few other modes, including a mouse mode where you can use your phone as a mouse on the TV. And then there is the Numeric Keyboard, which will show a numeric keyboard at the top of the screen, with the directional pad below it, and home, menu and back at the very bottom. The final mode is the GamePad Mode. Which turns your phone into landscape mode, and gives you a joystick on the left side, with A, B, X, and Y buttons on the right side and select, start at the bottom. Now the GamePad Mode is still beta, and does need some work, but it worked pretty well with the very few games we used it with on the NVIDIA SHIELD TV.
You can do more than just navigating the interface with CetusPlay. You can also Cast from the app, as well as play local files on your TV through the app. Using "Play on TV", you can stream your locally saved video, pictures and other files to your TV using Google's Cast functionality. There's also a slew of different apps you can use for streaming with CetusPlay. It allows you to search for videos to Cast, as well as Cast from YouTube. So without needing to use the YouTube app, you can find a video to cast from right here, which is pretty neat. There are a few settings that you'll want to keep an eye on. By default, it is set to vibrate when you press a button, use volume keys for your TV and the floating remote control widget. But you can also choose to keep the screen lit when the app is open – which obviously can degrade your phone's battery life – and you can also choose to show the panel after launching apps.
Finally, CetusPlay has a widget that is inside the app. You'll see it floating around on the side of the app, similar to a Facebook Messenger chat head. This allows you to quickly tap on it and be able to control your TV from there. Without needing to go back to the Remote section of the app. Which is a nice feature to have, especially since it does have a slew of other features available. CetusPlay does use ads for monetization. Luckily, you are able to get rid of them with a one-time in-app purchase, which will cost you $5.99. If this is an app you'll be using often, then the $5.99 in-app purchase for removing ads really isn't bad at all.
- Speed (4/5) – The app is pretty quick, in terms of installing, setup and use.
- Theme (4/5) – Not the best looking app, would be better if it used a completely black background (especially for AMOLED devices).
- Features (5/5) – There are a lot more features included in this app than you'd expect, especially since it's a remote app.
- Overall (4/5) – A good replacement for that physical remote that most people lose all the time.
- Super simple to install
- Good use of Google's Cast functionality
- Ad-supported, but there is an option to remove ads forever with a one-time purchase
- No input lag between the smartphone and the set-top box
- Works with multiple set-top box platforms (Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, KODI set-top boxes)
- Some features don't work on all set-top boxes (like screenshot capability)
- Doesn't completely fill the screen on 18:9 aspect ratio smartphones when the remove ads in-app purchase has been purchased
- No voice search button available
CetusPlay may not be the first name that comes to mind when needing to find a remote app for your smartphone that can be used to control your Android TV, but it should be one of the first names. It is one of the few that works with multiple set-top boxes and multiple platforms. For instance, most will work with Fire TV or Android TV or KODI Boxes, but not all three – and it can actually work with all three without signing out of accounts or downloading an additional app. Not to mention, there is more functionality here than you'll find with most remote apps out there right now. So if you have an Amazon Fire TV, Android TV or a KODI set-top box, the CetusPlay remote app is definitely worth taking a look at.