Peel teams up with Philips for a smart iOS remote extender

Smart remote control app maker Peel is going back its roots: The company has teamed up with Philips subsidiary PITS to launch the Pronto, a new extender device that brings the power of Peel to iOS.

The Pronto is a $50 hub that communicates with an iOS device via Bluetooth, and then sends out commands via IR to change channels on a TV, launch playback on a Blu-ray player or even control a DVR. The device features an integrated 360-degree IR blaster, and comes with an additional IR cable to reach a device out of sight. It is powered by four AA batteries, which are supposed to last an entire year.

Pronto is being controlled by the Peel smart remote app, which among other things includes a programming guide, and also directly interacts with set-top boxes and other devices capable of being controlled via Wi-Fi. The Pronto, which is being manufactured by PITS, will be available in mid-January.

For Peel, this is a bit of déjà vu: The company started out with its very own IR blaster, dubbed the Pear, but went on to concentrate on its app instead. Peel struck relationships with a number of phone makers, including Samsung and HTC, and got them to include IR directly in their handsets, doing away with the need of an external IR blaster. However, iOS has been left out because iPhones simply don’t offer IR control. With the Pronto, Peel now has a chance to reintroduce itself to iOS users.

Peel gets $50 million investment from Alibaba

Remember the funding round that Peel, maker of the remote control apps that you find on handsets from Samsung, HTC and others, raised in June from Alibaba? Thursday, the company announced a number, and it’s a big one: Alibaba invested $50 million in Peel, bringing the total amount raised by the startup to $95 million. I guess replacing a device that everyone hates, but still uses every day, does pay off.

A voice-controlled future is finally upon us

Science fiction writers and futurists have long imagined a world in which we control everyday devices with our voice. That future seems a little bit closer to reality with the news that Apple’s Siri voice control technology will likely power its long-rumored iTV device.

Dijit Turns Your iPhone Into a Roku Remote Control

Searching for movie or TV show titles on your Roku media player just got easier thanks to a new universal remote control app called Dijit. The app turns our iPhone, iPod touch or iPad into a Roku remote, complete with onscreen keyboard and customizable gestures.

Cord Cutters: The Peel + Your iPhone = Universal Remote

The Peel TV Universal Remote turns your iPhone into a universal remote control. It also offers recommendations for shows to watch as well as alerts so you don’t miss anything. But how well does it work if you watch most of your video content online?