iPhone as a Remote

January 28th, 2009

Yay. Today I finally got it working the way I want – use my iPhone as a remote control when watching movies. If you’re not a uber geek, you might want to stop reading now. Move along.

I use VLC on my mac as my media player. Why? Cuz it plays everything – all types of .avi, .movs. mp3s mpgs, dvds – and lets you program hotkeys to do what you want. For example, I use spacebar for play/pause, and “.” and “,” for jumping forward or backward 15 secs at a time (tivo has trained me well). What else do you need? Volume is done thru my stereo – laptop audio out goes there, and laptop DVI goes into HDMI on my 40″ Bravia. But it sux to have to get up to pause or rewind 10 seconds to see that scene again. So I had to get a remote.

I found it hard to find a good remote control app on the iPhone – Apple’s “Remote” app only controls iTunes, which is good only for playing music (I’m not gonna import GB’s worth of .avi’s into iTunes, Hello..). I really liked the Telekinesis Uniremote app, it has slick remote interface, but I could only get VLC to play/pause (no rewind/ff). XBMC and Movist options seem more complicated.

In the end, the free “mocha vnc lite” iPhone app worked adequately. First, you turn on Apple’s default VNC server – on Leopard, goto System Prefs, Sharing, check the box for “Screen Sharing”, then click on ‘Computer Settings’ button to the right, and on the popup check the box for “VNC .. password” and give it a password – you don’t want anybody in your neighborhood to start controlling your mac. (Tiger instructions). Make sure you remember your password and the IP address. Second, launch VLC on your mac and full screen that baby. Third, install and launch the “mocha vnc lite” app, enter the IP and password and it should connect just fine. Now, you only get a small section of your screen, but thats cool. Click on little keyboard icon to get keyboard, now you can spacebar pause/play your VLC player all night long.

Ending Geek transmission.