I love using Miracast to wirelessly push my Microsoft Surface Pro screen to my 60 inch television. It comes in extremely handy streaming TV shows and movies from web sites that don't offer their own Windows 8 apps like Netflix does. Amazon Prime streaming is a big offender, but there are others. And, while it's a phenomenal experience there is one small annoyance: you have to keep the Surface device within finger reach for navigation and also to hit the pause and play video buttons. The cool factor definitely outweighs the annoyance, but what if that irritation could be eliminated completely? What if you could remotely manage those functions?

I've looked for a good remote control app for a long while, and have never been able to settle one, until I recently found and started using Unified Remote.

Unified Remote is an app for that is currently available Windows Phone and Android (Linux, iOS, Mac, and Windows is coming) that installs on your mobile phone and provides a huge number (about 50) of remote control templates. Each template is designed specifically for the function you want to manage. There are templates specific to Netflix, Google Music, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, Winamp, and many other familiar apps. There's also one available specifically for Windows 8 navigation, which is the key template for controlling the Microsoft Surface Pro series of devices. Note that the server installation requires a real version of Windows 8, not a computer running Windows RT. Windows RT support is supposed to be on it's way.

There's a free version of the phone app and a paid version. The free version provides a limited number of templates, but the paid version provides all templates and also the ability to create your own custom templates. In addition, the paid version also supports NFC and voice control.

To get it to work on the Microsoft Surface Pro (or any other computer) there's a server piece that must be installed and configured. The Unified Remote Server is free, installs quickly, and is easy to setup. If using WiFi to connect (the mobile app actually does support Bluetooth, too), setting the IP address is enough in most cases.

For the full set of remote control templates Unified Remote can be purchased for $3.49 from the Windows Phone store: Unified Remote

The server piece, must be downloaded and installed from the Unified Remote web site: Unified Remote Server