Remote: iTunes and Apple TV Remote Control

July 10, 2008

image In what’s sure to be the "Killer app" for iPhone’s release, Apple’s App store showcases a free download from Apple titled, "Remote".  The marketing speak says:

Be a mobile DJ. With Remote, you can control music on you Computer or Apple TV from your iPod touch or iPhone.

Play, pause, skip, shuffle. See your songs, playlists, and album art, on your iPod touch or iPhone as if you were in front of your computer.

Remote works with your Wi-Fi network, so you control playback from anywhere in and around your home.

 

Features

– Control the music on iTunes or Apple TV

– See the album artwork on your Remote

– Search the whole iTunes library

– Control your AirTunes speakers

 

Looks like there may be a function for multi-zone music playback with this feature- something I’ll have to investigate.  More screens below:

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Update: I’ve successfully tested the app with both an Apple TV and a massive iTunes library and report that the performance is snappy overall. When the Apple TV was powered off, a notification appeared on the iPhone which was also a nice touch.  Apps like this have existed for years for Windows Mobile-based devices, and most recently percolating to a solution for Windows Sideshow so that’s now what’s new- what’s new is that this is the first time Apple has intimated the iPhone as a control device vs. consumption of media.

As for the Sonos comparison, it’s readily apparent that Remote (and iTunes in general) is missing a critical feature IMO – synchronized audio playback.  Sonos’ wireless mesh network delivers sync’d playback so flawlessly that I’m hard pressed to think of another CE-device in my stable that has worked so well.  This is a key feature for multi-room audio as we regularly fill the house and yard with music when cleaning, entertaining, celebrating the holidays.  I will say the iPhone fits in my pocket a sight better than the Sonos controller – a complete comparison to come in the future.

4 responses to Remote: iTunes and Apple TV Remote Control

  1. 

    Wonder if Remote will work on an iPod Touch with 2.0 software (will that exist even?). That way you could really do Sonos like solution with a couple of AirPort Express and a Touch.

  2. 

    Quick question: You note that it does not provide synchronized playback (like the Sonos does). But the screen shot above would indicate that it may do this (I think) by turning "speakers" on and off.

    Presumably those "speakers" in the Settings screen shot above are actually Airport Express devices connected to sound systems (at least in the case of Living Room and Patio)? Do you know if it’s synchronized when multiple sets of speakers are turned on?

    Thanks!
    Aaron

  3. 

    I had a Sonos system which I switched out for a couple of Squeezebox Duets. And now I’ve just switched out the Duets for two Airport Expresses and two iPod Touches. And it works great.

    It does indeed do synchronised audio. When you turn on another speaker, the music stops for a second or two and then both speakers start playing from the same point. Very slick.

    It doesn’t however, let you play different songs on each speaker!

    I didn’t even think about this when I was switching over. Doing synchronised audio is always seen as the harder problem, and different songs on each as a given. But the remotes (iPod Touches) are controlling iTunes which can only send one stream at a time (whether to one set of speakers or multiple).

    I’m experimenting with setting up iTunes on my laptop to see if I can get two different songs playing that way. But having a second computer on all the time is not ideal. I’ll see if I can use my Windows Home Server.

    An AppleTV may be able to play a different song at the same time. But that’s 229 vs 99. Cheaper than a leaving on a second PC though.

  4. 

    Just tried setting up a second computer with iTunes and was able to play different songs through two different AirPort Express’s.

    The remote app on the iPhone/iPod lets you choose between the two different libraries (one on each computer). You can then select the speakers you want to play through, and it won’t interrupt any music already playing on a different spreaker.

    Good to know, but not sure how useful it is yet.

    Please post a comment if anyone tries the Apple TV.