• Remote Buddy From IOSpirit



    Computer Audiophile readers are well aware that I was not a big fan of using the iPod Touch or iPhone as a remote control. However, after a little more research and using the iPod Touch to control iTunes I soon pulled the "John Kerry" and flip-flopped by joining the iPod remote control fan club. Since then I have spent a considerable amount of time using a few of the applications commonly used to control an iTunes library. In this review I am focusing on Remote Buddy from IOSpirit.
     

    Remote Buddy v1.8.10 is a very feature rich application.

    "Remote Buddy turns the remote control in your hands into a key to your entire Mac®. No matter, whether you want to control applications and presentations, browse and playback your music- and video collection, watch TV with EyeTV, browse the web or your filesystem, make the globe turn in Google™ Earth, enter a text, move the mouse, play games or maybe just change the brightness of your screen - you can do this all with Remote Buddy! And so much more!" - IOSpiri.com

    I can certainly vouch for every word of this description. You can do all of this with an iPod Touch from anywhere you can communicate with your Mac. Personally I am only interested in the iTunes library navigation and playback functions. Thus, I will narrow down the review considerably to cover only the core functions that audiophiles need to know about.

    AJAX

    AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a popular web development technique that many of you have already used, but may not know it. Remember back a couple years ago when you made one change on a website and the whole page had to reload? Thanks to AJAX techniques web pages can now communicate with a back-end server and change accordingly on the fly. No reloading the whole page if you're just selecting a date on your Google Calendar. Another major user of AJAX is GMail, one of the most popular web email applications around.

    What does AJAX have to do with audiophiles and their music? Traditionally nothing at all. Now audiophiles have AJAX applications to remote control their complete music library. Enter Remote Buddy from IOSpirit.

    AJAX Remote

    Remote Buddy uses AJAX through Apple's Safari web browser on the iPod Touch to control iTunes and navigate your library. Nothing has to be installed on the iPod Touch. After installing the application on your Mac, just make sure it is up and running. By default the AJAX remote function is disabled. By opening the Remote Buddy preferences pane and enabling the AJAX remote you'll be all set.

    Accessing you library and music is very simple as well. On the AJAX remote preferences pane there is a "Port" listed at the top. This can be set to many different numbers, but I suggest sticking with the default 8888. You'll need to remember this number to connect to the application running on your Mac from your iPod Touch. To test if Remote Buddy is working select Airport/Ethernet interfaces at the bottom of the AJAX remote preferences pane and click "Open in browser." This will open Remote Buddy on your local Mac and provide the same functionality as it will on your iPod Touch. Once your Internet browser opens you'll probably want to bookmark the RB page. Also, take note of the URL because this is what you'll enter in the Safari browser on your iPod Touch.

    Accessing your music from your iPod is as simple as entering the correct web address (URL) into the Safari browser running on the iPod. On the iPod Touch open Safari and enter the URL that you noted above. It will likely look something like this http://192.168.0.2:8888 . That's it, you'll be controlling your library from anywhere in the house.

    I divide the remote capabilities of Remote Buddy into two part that audiophiles care about. Library navigation, and traditional remote control.

    Library Navigation

    Navigating your library and playing music from the Remote Buddy interface can be a little cumbersome at first. Moving forward and backward with the arrows on each line takes a little getting used to. This is one of those things you're just going to learn as you use the application. Remote Buddy has a great search feature built-in. Finding a certain song or album can be tedious on the smallish iPod screen without using the search feature. Search is accessible from the Now Playing screen, but not the library navigation screens. Maybe this will be available in version 2.0. Remote Buddy somewhat makes up for the lack of a search button in more places by separating artists and albums alphabetically. Sure this sounds rather elementary, but let me explain. When browsing for Foo Fighters I enter the Artists menu which is followed by each letter of the alphabet. From there it is simple to select the letter F and find the "Foos" from there. Some applications make you scroll alphabetically through your complete library until you find the artists you want. Not an acceptable option if your library is fairly large.

    Remote Control

    Once you've selected the music you want, Remote Buddy offers a decent remote to control the listening experience. From the Launcher select Remote. There you have a few buttons that are customizable through the standard RB preferences. I set my buttons for mostly standard stuff such as volume up/down, track fwd/bwd, play/pause, and even a stop button. Yes, stop is different from pause in iTunes as it will cause iTunes to forget the listening position in the currently playing song.

    Wrap Up

    Remote Buddy is certainly worth the price of admission at around $28. Library navigation takes a little getting used to, but the learning curve is certainly not steep. The remote control aspect of the application gives it a little old school feel like you are using a purpose built remote control with a play and pause button etc... The application as a whole could be more intuitive and Apple-like, but it still highly recommend it in the current state. This brings me to the relevance of Remote Buddy. Apple has just released the Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone & iPod Touch which should bring a flood of native applications. I expect these new applications to have great functionality and be a little more intuitive and responsive. There is no timeline or even an identified application that will rival Remote Buddy. Popular wisdom says a better app will be released following the SDK release. Is it worth waiting for one of these Apple approved applications to come out? Simply put, No. Add to cart and download Remote Buddy tonight, you won't be disappointed.



    Remote Buddy
    click to enlarge







     

    For further information see the IOSpirit website.
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Good question, I'm glad you asked, but I purposely let that out of the review. As of right now my next column for Tone Audio Magazine will cover both of these and answer your exact questions!<br />
      <br />
      If this changes I will certainly post the article right here on Computer Audiophile.
    1. jimim's Avatar
      jimim -
      Chris will you let me know when it's in it so I can get a copy to read it! That would be great.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      Thanks,<br />
      Jimi
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Certainly Jimi.
    1. Innertuber's Avatar
      Innertuber -
      For 28 bucks it sure sounds like it's an improvement over the basic apple remote ...
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      This is a major league app. The Apple remote is still in the Rookie leagues.
    1. rom661's Avatar
      rom661 -
      Hi Chris. I'm looking forward to your comparison. I have been using an iTouch with the Signal program and although I love the idea, I find the execution a little lacking. Your opinion is welcome.
    1. TimH's Avatar
      TimH -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Regarding this old topic...I still haven't bought an iPod Touch yet, mainly because I'm OK with my "Bentley" (to use your terminology ) remote control solution of another Mac laptop. But it would be nice to have something a bit more portable. So, I had the chance to play around with an iPhone with Apple's Remote app and it was, well, OK, in my book. Does what you need for the basics. One thing that's disappointing is that if you have the iTunes screen running with coverflow on a TV for all to see, as in a party situation, and you do anything using the Touch, the coverflow goes away and you get something like just a playlist of the songs of the current album. Sounds minor, but I think coverflow is really nice to see, especially with guests. (Same story with the Visualizers.)<br />
      <br />
      From what I can tell from some demos I've seen online, RemoteBuddy looks like it maintains on screen whatever your computer is running - like coverflow in iTunes. Does this sound correct? If so and if I don't mind paying the $30 do you think RemoteBuddy would be the better solution in my case? I think I'm reasonably geeky about this stuff, so is it that much more difficult to configure than Apple's Remote app? Any serious drawbacks?<br />
      <br />
      (I haven't been able to verify what Signal does in this case, but RemoteBuddy seems like the more heavy duty application to me.)<br />
      <br />
      Thanks,<br />
      TheOtherTim<br />
      <br />
      PS The CASH equipment list is outstanding! I've already recommended it to somebody. Thanks for doing that. <br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Tim - I have RemoteBuddy, but don't really use it. It's not difficult to use. Just point a browser at your music server with a specific port like 8888 (it says in the configuration gui). RB is pretty robust and can do much more than remote control of an iTunes library. I think they have a free trial, I recommend checking it out. Let me know if you have trouble and I'll fire my RB up and help.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      Thanks for the kind words about the CASH list :-)