Google’s Chromecast streaming dongles are supposed to do away with dedicated remote controls. Instead of making you thumb through menus with a creaky plastic remote, Chromecast lets you launch videos with whatever phone, tablet, or laptop you have on hand.

Still, it’s nice to have a dedicated remote that you can leave on the coffee table for when other devices are occupied or out of reach. Since I’ve recently been trying figure out some uses for my old phones and tablets, I decided to repurpose an old HTC One Android phone as a full-time Chromecast remote.

The nice thing about the HTC One, which launched in 2013, is that it has an IR blaster built into the power button, allowing it to control TV functions such as power, volume, and input. Several other Android phones from around that time have similar features, and you might be able to purchase an attachable IR blaster on the cheap if your phone doesn’t have this feature built in. (More on that later.)

Jared Newman / TechHive

IR aside, the key to building the ultimate Chromecast remote is to eliminate all apps, services, and processes that might sap your phone’s battery life, and to optimize your home screens for media playback. Here’s how to get set up:

Step 1: Delete and disable unnecessary apps

chromecastremove Jared Newman / TechHive

To conserve battery life and declutter your home screen, remove any apps that aren’t related to video, music, and photos, and that don’t support Chromecast. The easiest way to do this is to open Settings, go to the Apps menu, and scroll through the “Downloaded” apps list to delete anything that isn’t media-related.

Some built-in apps might not allow you to uninstall them, but you can at least choose the “Disable” option through the same menu on phones running Android 4.0 or higher. The Downloaded section might also not cover all the apps you want to remove, in which case you can scroll over to the “All” section of the apps menu and disable many of them there. Just steer clear of any items that don’t appear on your phone’s home screen or app tray.

Step 2: Desynchronize your accounts

chromecastdesync Jared Newman / TechHive

Now that you’re not using the phone for anything but TV controls, you can disable synchronization with Gmail and other services. Head to Settings and look for an option that says “Accounts & Sync,” “User & Accounts,” or something similar. Disable the Auto-Sync option from this menu.

Step 3: Disable unwanted connectivity

Mobile connectivity and GPS can put an unnecessary strain on battery life, so they should be disabled on your Chromecast remote. The easiest way is to turn on airplane mode, then turn Wi-Fi back on. (You can also turn on Bluetooth if you intend to use this remote for playing music on nearby speakers, but this should only be done as needed.)



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