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

Comments

Matt Cahill said on January 17, 2005 10:39 PM

If you like bluetooth phone integration, I also highly suggest http://www.reelintelligence.com/BluePhoneElite/ by Reel Software. It adds a call and SMS center to control more actions of your phone and does require address book to be open all the time for call notifications. The reason I really like it is because it can run as a menu item rather than stay in the dock. Check it out!

Rob McMichael said on January 17, 2005 10:40 PM

That is the longest post I have ever read here mate :p

I just started to use BluePhoneElite. It is free at the moment and allows stuff like SMS center, call center and a great proximity (although the apple script function is not yet working) that lets you pause itunes, set iChat to away and turns on your screen saver.

It also does stuff like flash and pause the music when you get a call (I guess something you can easily script)

What really excites me is the news Tiger will support bluetooth far better, allowing for options like using your computers mic and speakers for phone calls :)

Rob McMichael said on January 17, 2005 10:42 PM

“and does require address book to be open all the time for call notifications.”

——-

I think that should be a doesn’t :)

Paul Connolley said on January 17, 2005 11:42 PM

You’re saying you don’t keep Address Book open all the time anyway? I have a fair few applications which never stop running. Address Book, Mail, iChat…

As is mentioned in a previous comment, programs like BluePhoneElite are perfectly usable as notification applications. You aren’t obliged to use Address Book for notifications. Remember that its purpose, as an application, is in letting you use the phone to operate the Mac. Which means you don’t always want Address Book stealing your messages from you anyhow.

I would rather, and i do, use Salling Clicker rather than use the OS X built-in feature. If anything, Apple should employ Jonas Salling and have it integrated.

Rob McMichael said on January 18, 2005 12:00 AM

I keep a few apps running, safari, adium, mail and news fire.

I would say bluephone is more of an app for controlling your phone though.

+ it keeps the sent messages and stuff on the phone (along with the received messages and call logs) rather than “stealing” them.

If you want to use your phone to control your mac, then Salling clicker is the way forward! But if you prefer using a keyboard than num keys and can’t be bothered to stop itunes, and set your status when you are away or on the phone, bluephone proves a little more useful.

Paul Connolley said on January 18, 2005 12:17 AM

Sorry Rob, I make it seem as though I’m shocked at you. It was more of a general rhetoric.

I totally concur with you on the BluePhoneElite. I use it for occasional inbox management. Address Book.app handles the rest of my requirements.

I enjoy using the iTunes remote. There are a number of extras you can use. I don’t find the help menus difficult at all compared with your experience (Andy). It’s all very simple. Play/Pause, Next/Back, and Vol.Up/Vol.Down. Almost like iPod shuffle (*cough*). The Keynote/Powerpoint controllers are very usable also. I have made much use of them.

Oh Andy, your submit form is broken. It doesn’t state that email address is required but i can’t submit without it.

Andy Budd said on January 18, 2005 1:00 AM

Thanks for the feedback folks. I did actually come across BluePhoneElite but decided not to mention it in this post as it’s not really a remote control app. However it does look useful and includes some basic proximity events

When I mentioned keeping Address Book open I actually meant keeping the Address Book Bluetooth connection open. I usually keep the app open but when you leave your machine for a bit (and go out of the Bluetooth range) you lose the connection and have to manually reconnect. With Clicker it basically does this for you so you don’t have to remember.

btw Rob. The posts have been getting shorter for various reasons such as time issues and other commitments. However if you look though the achieves you’ll see that hasn’t always been the case. For example

Hopefully I’ll find the time to write a few more longer articles soon.

Rob McMichael said on January 18, 2005 3:20 PM

I think I will check out the free salling clicker when I have the time, sounds like it has some great features.

I was also wondering if you would be able to put your presentation online Andy? Unless it makes no sense without your voice over that is.

I will also look at some of your longer posts when I get the chance.

Right, now back to revision :(

Web Design Dustin said on January 18, 2005 8:55 PM

Yea I agree with Rob Michael I think im going to try out the salling clicker program too, sounds excellent! You guys are wonderful.

Benjamin Murphy said on January 18, 2005 9:26 PM

I got a T637 for Christmas - and the same day download Salling Clicker. The proximity scripting is really slick - being able to leave the room and have iTunes shut down and then come back on when I return feels magical. I remember reading about how Bill Gates’ house would set different room temperatures depending on who was in it, etc… - guess you don’t need 60b to feel that cool!

Imagine walking into your conference room with some new clients and having your keynote presentation pop right up! The gee-whiz factor of bluetooth really surprises people sometimes.

Jeniffer said on March 1, 2006 1:57 AM

A great site where one can enjoy the thought of a great mind long departed. Cheers for the good work!