With the hustle and bustle of the new iPhone 2.0 firmware, the App Store, and the 3G iPhone, it can be easy to forget the foundation that got the whole ball rolling: iTunes. Yes, Apple’s jukebox from the first days of Mac OS X has undergone many changes over the years, but the tight integration with iPod (and later iPhone) syncing cemented it for many users as their primary music player.
Now Apple has created a new way to get the most out of iTunes. It’s called Remote (App Store Link) and it’s an iPhone App that creates a direct link (over a local access network) between the iPhone in your hand and iTunes on your computer.
Using the same interface as the iPhone’s music player, Remote lets you browse your iTunes library and play anything from music to movies.
The Remote App works better than a regular Infra-Red remote control because it does not require a direct view of your computer. As long as you are connected to your wireless router, Remote will be able to control iTunes directly from your iPhone.
Also, because Remote makes use of a strong network like WiFi, it can receive all of the cover art from your iTunes library and display it as part of the controls (see below on the left).
Remote gives you the ability to play, pause, fast-forward, skip tracks, and change the volume on iTunes. You can also browse your entire library by song, artist, or genre. Even your playlists are accessible. If you have a large library and you need to find something specific, there is even a search feature (see above on the right).
To set up the App, open Remote and click “Add Library.” This will display a passcode and give instructions on how to connect your computer and your phone.
iTunes has a very similar interface (shown here) for the other end of the transaction:
Once you enter the passcode into iTunes it will work right away. It should be noted that Remote also works with Apple TV and the set-up is fairly similar.
I was personally impressed with the stability and functionality of Remote. The response time between command and reaction is very quick. Cover art and search results load almost as fast. Lastly, Apple’s latest update gives you the option to keep the App connected to iTunes for a more consistent experience. By default it is set to disconnect when Remote is minimized or the iPhone sleeps (to keep it from draining the battery). This is really a personal preference, but Remote always reconnects quickly for me so I haven’t needed the new option.
Remote isn’t perfect. For one, I wish it were possible to watch videos or listen to music from the iTunes music library on the iPhone as well as the computer. Also, more complex information, like “lyrics,” which many podcasts use to include their show notes on the file, are not accessible via the Remote interface.
Despite any criticism, this is an absolutely fantastic App and any iPhone user who doesn’t already have it should definitely try it out.
Can you think of any unique or interesting uses for this App? I like the ability to start a playlist before I enter a room so the ambiance is already going.
[Images from Apple and my iPhone]