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Apple Remote: Greatest Mobile App Ever?

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by boulder_bum, Jul 29, 2008.

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  1. boulder_bum

    boulder_bum Senior Member

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    So I use Apple for my media: I have an Apple TV for playing iTunes movies, rentals & TV/Video Podcasts/YouTube/Flickr. All my media is stored in iTunes on my computer and now I have an iPhone 3G to replace my aging non-video iPod.

    I saw the stories about the Apple Remote app, and thought, meh, big deal. Then I actually downloaded it, and oh good heavens, it's not just a remote, it's the key to a freaking sweet home automation media experience.

    See, not only does it act as a sort of substitue/supplement for an Apple TV remote that brings missing features (like a keyboard), it controls iTunes on your computer and even controls which set of "speakers" it uses. Even cooler is that it does it all over WiFi, so I don't even need to be in the same room as my equipment (which is good because my Apple TV is behind a wall, controlled by an RF remote that cost as much as an iPhone).

    WiFi control means that if I buy an Airport Express, I can have a set of speakers upstairs in my living room, then sit on the couch, browse my basement computer's music collection via the remote app and have it play in the room I'm in!

    That's especially appealing to me, because whereas a Sonos starter system (which basically does the same thing) would cost about $1000, I can utilize my existing equipment, have a slick interface controlled by a device I always have on my hip (you can't say the same for the Sonos remotes) and spend only $100.

    In other words, I can have a system I think is superior to the Sonos for 1/10th the price. Sweet!

    This might be one of the first things I look to do when the Prius is paid off. :D
  2. kjconrad

    kjconrad Junior Member

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    I hear ya I love my AppleTV and iPhone. I followed the instructions from Apple Mentor. Now I have all my old DVDs ripped to my hard drive and boxed in my garage. I can watch them on my AppleTV or my iPhone and I don't have to look through a cabinet of DVD cases and swap out discs etc.

    I also love letting the AppleTV blast away on my home theater system while cleaning/doing chores around the house and not having to go back to my family room to switch songs or playlists because I can control it with my iPhone.

    Yes sir, Apple is really on to something.
  3. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    This sort of technology has been available for some time, but once again Apple has done a good job pulling it together and making it work for non-nerds. I think doing that is Apple's strong suit.

    Tom
  4. tleonhar

    tleonhar Senior Member

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    Right, I remember dabbling with remote apps for the Palm devices in the past. They worked pretty good too.
  5. boulder_bum

    boulder_bum Senior Member

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    Hmm. I'd be curious to see some of the other apps, I've never used a phone-based remote before and think they're wicked cool, but I suspect qbee is right about the "bringing it all together for non-nerds" part. It's a little like saying there are plenty of good alternatives to the iPhone (I say, "Yeah right, you just don't understand!").

    Setup took minutes, the interface is pretty much what you'd expect from Apple (easy to use and stylish) and it just works SO WELL with the other Apple hardware/software.

    This says it right:

    Hands-on: iTunes Remote App | Crave, the gadget blog - CNET



    I still don't think you could have iTunes/Apple TV home stereo automation that worked as well or for as cheap and, come on, you even have cover art and thumbnails and stuff!

    [​IMG]
  6. Godiva

    Godiva AmeriKan Citizen

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    I had no idea everything could work together like that.

    I don't have an iPhone or an Apple TV (yet). But this is sure an incentive to get both. I'd love to store my DVD collection and be able to watch whatever I wanted when I wanted.

    I had a TimeCapsule but it didn't work right and I returned it. I may read up on the apple board and see if it's working better now and try it again.
  7. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    I'm an electrical engineer, and I design embedded electronics for a living, so I should be pretty good at making things work together. In my den, I have six remote controllers, one wireless keyboard, and a wireless laptop computer. All of my entertainment electronics are either different brands or different generations. I could make it all work together, but it's simply not worth the time, effort, and expense. That should say something about the current state of the art.

    Tom
  8. tleonhar

    tleonhar Senior Member

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    Have you ever tried one of the Harmony remotes? They are part of Logitec now.

    On that note, can the Apple remote be configured with macros? That would be to have a button for example labeled watch TV, pressing it would turn on the TV, cable box/sat receiver, and setting all inputs?
  9. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    I've looked at them, but I have a mixed system using infrared, Bluetooth, proprietary point to point wireless, Wifi (802.11a/b/g), and 100baseT Ethernet. The Harmony remotes are nice units, but I would have to make a dedicated wireless repeater, and it isn't something I feel like doing at the moment. I may eventually, but by then I may have swapped out my older components for something new.

    Tom
  10. boulder_bum

    boulder_bum Senior Member

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    I think there's definately something to be said for ease-of-use. Whenever I see analysis on things like the iPhone or media streamers or something where there's a comparison to be made, there's always a feature checklist. Can the media streamer play movie rentals and YouTube? Check and check.

    What I think isn't well understood, however, is that just because a given gadget can accomplish a certain task doesn't mean it's as good as another that does the same in a better way.

    Case in point, mobile browsers. All smart phones have a browser of some sort that connects you to the internet (check!), but if you compare the awkwardly rendering, buggy, limited browser of my old Windows Mobile phone to the multi-touch zooming browser of my iPhone, there's just no comparison.

    It's probably that way for remotes, too. There are plenty out there that claim to get the job done, but all aren't created equal.



    I have the Harmony 890, which I absolutely love! It works by both using IR directly and sending a radio frequency through walls to an IR blaster which then sends IR commands to your devices.

    With my setup, all you see is a TV mounted to the wall, but that TV is hooked up to a DVD player, cable box and Apple TV, all of which are tucked out of sight and controlled with a single remote!

    The usability of their Harmony remote programming app sort of sucks, but they also have cool innovations like the ability for support reps to build a macro for you which the Hormony app pulls from the web and loads onto your remote the next time you plug it into your computer via a USB cable.



    No. It's not meant to be a universal remote (and doesn't issue IR commands at all), it's just meant to provide a slick interface into iTunes/Apple TV over WiFi. Thus, it's great at doing things like pulling up your music library from your PC in the basement then playing it in your living room upstairs (provided you're set up with an Airport Express), but it doesn't do things like turn your TV on.
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