July 27, 2008

With the release of the iPhone 2.0 software on July 11th, the doors have opened for many creative and useful applications to change the way we use our iPhones (or iPod touch).

First out of the gate to show how to do a revolutionary application is Apple with their iTunes control software, Remote.

Remote turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless controller for your computer. It works with v7.7 of iTunes on both Windows and OS X, and requires that iTunes be running.  However, it does not require that you share your library. I imagine using Remote while having your computer connected to a TV or speaker system, and controlling the music selection from the iPod. The system also has a “check this out” factor, as it is kind of weird changing the song from anywhere in the house.



Apple Remote

Setting up Remote is refreshingly simple. From within the Remote settings panel, you are presented with a 4 digit code — much like streaming to an Apple TV. This code is then entered into the iTunes window of a computer running OS X or Windows.

In the iTunes source window, you can select your iPod and enter the code.
Naturally, the computer and iPod must be on the same WiFi network. Once the connection is made, the iTunes library you wish to control will be shown inside the Setting menu of Remote.


Remote Comparison

Can you tell the difference?
The difference between using Remote to control your computer and listening to music on the iPod itself is so minimal. I’ve included a photo here to compare the two. I don’t even remember which one is which anymore. You can browse playlists, by artists, song titles and albums in exactly the same way as local listening. I was pleasantly surprised at the responsiveness of the entire system, as there was minimal, if any lag between sending a command and the result. My network consists of an Airport Extreme base station and Airport Express station distributing the signal, but even when I tested it using a network created by my MacBook, there was no delay when pausing the song. It did take a little longer to copy the song lists, but once that was done, browsing was instantaneous.

Final Words

Remote offers a convenient, effective way to control your iTunes library. It is an excellent example of using the fantastic features of the iPhone and iPod touch to accomplish a single task in a completely new way.

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