Using a Sony Ericsson K700i Mobile Phone to Remote Control Your Mac (OS X 10.3.5) | January 17, 2005
I’m doing a SkillSwap presentation on Thursday and wanted to use my mobile phone as a bluetooth remote control. I was planning on grabbing a copy of Salling Clicker but it turns out that OS 10.3.5 already has a simple remote control facility built in.
When paring your K700i mobile phone using the Bluetooth Setup Assistant in OX 10.3.5 or higher, you’ll notice an option entitled “Use phone as a remote control for this computer”. If you select this option your phone should pop up a message asking if you want to “Start Remote Control Now”. You can either click yes now and it will take you to the remote control display on your phone, or you can navigate there via the Bluetooth option in your connectivity menu.
Initially there are 3 controllers, Desktop, MediaPlayer and Presenter. As I’m using S5 for my presentation the Desktop controller is perfect. However you can also download Salling Remote Basic for free and this allows you to install controllers for iTunes, EyeTV, DVD Player, VLC, PowerPoint, and Keynote. The remotes are quite nice as they show a visual representation of the keyboard on screen and highlight what each key does. Apparently the GUI is called a HID or “Human Interface Device” and is made up of an image and an XML like file. They give you access to all the basic features and are great if you just want a simple remote control.
However I thought I’d give Salling Clicker a go by way of comparison. The current version of Clicker doesn’t support the K700i, however there is a beta version that does. Installing clicker is a two part process, first installing the preference pane on your Mac and then installing the app on your phone. The preference pane was a little counterintuitive at first but made sense once I’d read this article at MacDevCenter. It probably would have made more sense if I’d RTFM but I’m notoriously lazy when it comes to manual reading.
I had expected Clickers remote option to also use HID concept. Unfortunatly the GUI (if you can even call it that) was a lot more basic. Entering the iTunes remote a quick note flashes up saying “use # for more info” before the song details start to display. Pressing # brings up a very hard to read “menu” outlining what the various keys do. Unlike the graphical HID, I guess you’re expected just to remember the what each key does. The Clicker iTunes controller has lots more features than the free controller, allowing you to browse by artist and playlist, add a rating etc. Also–unlike the free remote–it allows you to operate iTunes even if it’s not the active application. However for these benefits you’ve got to suffer a fairly clunky navigation system.
The real selling point for me are Clickers proximity events which let you set an AppleScript to execute when you leave or return from the computer, get a phone call etc. This is a really nice feature that allows you to do things like pause iTunes and set your iChat status when you leave the room, automatically sync your phone and keep your address book connected.
Because Clicker works by essentially allowing you to define various AppleScripts to execute it’s much more flexible than the free remotes. Unfortunatly the lack of a HID makes using the free remotes a lot more pleasant. If you want to be able to execute specific AppleScripts or take advantage of the proximity events then Clicker is great. If however you just want to operate iTunes from the living room or remotely operate a presentation using your phone, the free scripts are more than up to the job.
Posted at January 17, 2005 9:58 PM