Epic YES! Since the moment the original iPhone came out with its WiFi goodness, I've been begging asking for a way to use the iPhone to control the similarly connected iTunes, Front Row, and Apple TV. And now Apple has answered! (Er... except for Front Row, see below). And not only for the iPhone. While I'll use that term exclusively below, everything here also applies to the iPod Touch.
Remote is FREE, and available either via iTunes (picture above) or right from your iPhone 3G via the App Store. It's not hard to find, currently dominating the Top Free Apps charts. If you're not sure how to use App Store yet, check out Brian's excellent overview to get you started.
I chose to download directly from the iPhone so I could test out the 3G experience. It was fast. (However, when I later synced back with iTunes -- my first time post App download -- I was asked to re-authenticate my MacBook with the iTunes Store before it would sync the App for backup).
How did it work? Read on!
Setup was simple in the very best Apple Zen, "it just works" sense. Just tap on the Settings button on the top left, or on Change a Library at the bottom. From there, tap on Add a Library and Remote will automagically search for iTunes libraries and Apple TV's using the Bonjour zero-config networking protocol.
Note: If you have more than one WiFi network, make sure your iPhone and your iTunes and/or Apple TV are on the SAME network. If you can't connect, be sure you also check your firewall settings and enable iTunes sharing. (Thanks to everyone troubleshooting in the comments!)
When it finds either, it will present you with a pin code.
For iTunes, you'll be instructed to click on your iPhone under Devices.
(In response to some confusing, DON'T rush to plug your iPhone back into your computer. Remote doesn't want a cable, it uses WiFi. Wait a few seconds and the your iPhone will pop up under Devices all on its own, though it'll have the Remote icon to its left. That's what you click on.)(opens in new tab)
For the Apple TV, once you've updated to version 2.1, go to Settings, General, Remotes. Enter the pin code and you're in business.
Want to add another Apple TV and or iTunes Library, rinse and repeat the very same procedure. Want to remove an Apple TV or iTunes library? Tap the Edit button, toggle the red circle, and tap Delete.
Apple gets bonus points for making the process nearly identical to the already established method for setting up an Apple TV to work with iTunes, or adding or removing other entries/items on the iPhone. Good design is magnified by consistency.
Once setup, whenever you launch the Remote App from the iPhone, it will look for the last library you accesses, while also giving you the option to switch to another library. The connection can take a few moments, which is understandable given what it's setting up and that the iPhone is still limited to 802.11g WiFi, and not the much faster 802.11n (draft) that the Apple TV and most modern routers support.
The default setup for Remote is very similar to the setup for the iPhone's iPod app, with button along the bottom for playlists, artists, etc. It's also just as easy to change if, for example, you've handbrake'd your entire massive DVD collection to a Drobo, and subscribed to as many geeky video podcasts as possible! So, swapping playlists and artists for movies, podcasts, etc. is as simple as tapping on More, then Edit, then dragging around the large assortment of choices until your favorites are in the dock at the bottom.
Again, making the behavior identical to the iPod app gets Apple bonus points.
Using the iPhone Remote with iTunes and the Apple TV
I tested Remote on both an Apple desktop and laptop running iTunes 7.7 on OS X Leopard 10.5.4. It worked flawlessly on both. Again, keeping with the iPod app metaphor, Remote fills up with a list of your content, including album art. If someone who ripped their video media to iTunes was obsessive compulsive enough to use MetaX to embed poster art and tags (actors, directors, descriptions, season, episode, etc.), that someone would be rewarded by seeing the poster art same as album art, but unfortunately the meta tags themselves aren't available anywhere. While the iPod app doesn't do this either, its on my wish-list for the future. Linking in to IMDB, for example, to get additional metadata would also be an excellent update. Being able to watch something on the screen and investigate it at the same time on the iPhone would be killer.
Again, the iPhone is limited to the older 802.11g WiFi speeds, so it may take a few seconds to populate your list (understandable as cover art would need to be transferred and scaled on the fly, requiring some compute cycles likely on iTunes' end where the desktop CPU could better handle the hit).
Once the list is up, again, it works just like the iPod app -- sense a trend? Pick your playlist and then shuffle or song, your TV series or Podcast and then episode, your album and track, your movie, etc. and -- here's the different part -- instead of launching on the iPhone, the sound and/or video starts up on your desktop or laptop in iTunes. Again, back with the iPhone app, the same controls are presented to you for play, pause, skip, etc.
And you can flip the cover art around and, if you're in a playlist, album, TV series, Podcast series, etc. you'll see a list of other songs/videos for you to quickly switch between.
UPDATE: Apple TV Keyboard Bonus!
How'd I miss this? Daring Fireball points out that while the Apple TV's on screen keyboard is nothing special from a usability standpoint, once hooked up, the iPhone Remote's full soft Querty becomes available for entering passwords and searching content. Since Apple hasn't seen fit to include a Bluetooth chip for their own physical mouse and keyboard, this is the best data entry option to date. Nice bonus!
Where's the Front Row love?
The only glaring omission in Apple's otherwise amazing little Remote App is the apparent lack of support for Apple's Front Row. For those unfamiliar with Front Row, it's an application that basically sits on top of iTunes and allows the Mac to work like Apple TV, with the same remote control (the little white one) and an interface identical to the original Apple TV's. It's so good, in fact, many people buy a Mac Mini instead of an Apple TV and hook them up to their televisions for just that reason.
I did try starting up Front Row but the iPhone Remote didn't interact with it at all. It stayed connected to my library, but the first time I tried to play something, it crashed iTunes. The second time iTunes stayed up, but instead of playing something via the Front Row interface (which is full screen), it began playing it invisibly in iTunes (I had to escape out of Front Row to see it).
Given the awesome job it does with iTunes and the Apple TV, given the natural fit of Front Row, it's really surprising Apple left it out. Hopefully this will be addressed in an update.
Screaming for Streaming!
As tasty as using the iPhone to control iTunes and the Apple TV is, I'm greedy and I want more! I would love for this app, or a companion app, to get even one step closer to the Apple TV and actually let you stream your content FROM iTunes TO the iPhone. Instead of launching a song, movie, podcast, etc., stream it to me over WiFi and play it on my iPhone. Sure, the Apple TV is 802.11n fast, and the iPhone not so much, but crunching things down on the iTunes end to lower end and kicking it out to the iPhone is surely doable. So now I'm begging asking for iTunes Streamer to go along with my Remote. Get on it, Apple!
This is a killer App Store app. C'mon, it's #1 for a reason. If you use iTunes or have an Apple TV, Remote is a no brainer. It's FREE!
- "Just works" simple to set up
- Leverages familiar UI making it super easy to use
- Let's you control your music and videos from anywhere in WiFi range
- Ultimate party gadget much?
- No Front Row support
- (No streaming, but then it's not called Streamer... Sigh...)
Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
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You're running OS X 10.5.4 + iTunes 7.7?
Are you using Apple Airport routers? (I've only tested using Airport Extreme and Express -- I should have mentioned that). Maybe something on the router config?
I have all the latest updates: iTunes 7.7, OS X 10.5.4, etc. I use Apple Airport Extreme routers.
But I got it to work, by relaxing security settings on Firewall. Great. I'm on a laptop and prefer to keep things locked up more tightly. I'll take a pass on this one.
FYI, you need to allow that especially if the Firewall is on.
Btw, I am running OS X 10.4.11.
It should be possible to just allow the Controller app access, same as you would an FTP program.
@Ludo: I think that, like turning the firewall off, is too large a whole for the ultra-conservative security folks. (I think I just heard Steve Gibson firing off a Usenet post...) On your own home network, it's probably not a big risk, but what if you're at a hotel?
I downloaded it on the iPhone, and then clicked the new Remote icon. A screen with a 4-number passcode appeared, but there were no other choices on this screen (except the button for returning to Settings) and the following curse instruction: "To control iiTunes, open iTunes and select [my phone id] from the devices list."
I assumed this meant I should plug my phone into my laptop (pc), go to iTunes (version 7.7), wait for the phone name to appear in the devices list, and then something would happen. But nothing happened. Even after trying it over and over, removing it from the phone, re-downloading and installing and again and again, I get nothing. I tried downloading it to the laptop instead and then syncing, but that didn't work either. (and by the way, when I do try to sync, it seams to just get stuck syncing my contacts forever.) So when I try to use Remote, it just keeps saying it can't find a "library" (and why do they call it a library - what's that supposed to mean?)
Am I missing something obvious here??
DON'T plug your iPhone into iTunes! :)
When that 4-number PIN pops up, wait a few seconds and your iPhone will pop up in iTunes without being plugged in (via WiFi, and it will have the Remote icon next to it).
Click on it, and a screen will appear for you to enter the 4-digit number.
At that point your iPhone will connect and begin downloading your iTunes data.
Hope this helps!
Maybe Apple should add a feature to associate Firewall settings with Network locations. I use that and have a Home location, where I could relax my firewall security enough for these things to work (same issue with the Pocketpedia iPhone app, as I use DVDPedia). But I certainly don't want anything but the tightest Firewall settings if I'm on a hotel or open Wifi network.
I've seen connections to Drobo (via USB to PC) based libraries that were 500GB or more. How big is your library? At what point is it failing?
But skip a track and it automatically switches to playing in order. No setting to change that behavior that I can find.
Thanks for the help - you put me on the right track by making me remember that I have 2 wifi routers in the house and the laptop and iphone were not on the same one! Once I changed that it worked right away.
Admittedly, I haven't dug in too far yet, but basics of communication work as my AppleTV works with iTunes just fine.
D'oh! iController brain crash. Thanks and updated!
Glad its working!
i suspect this is due to this whole place being supported by apple airport expresses
when i get back home i will test it with airport extreme network..
"This remote has been unregistered from "Mark's Music". Please select another library"
That ranted, I'm not sure how good iTunes support is for Vista 64. It used to be non-existent.
Trouble shooting 101: Create simplest system possible. Launch PC, turn off everything but iTunes. Turn off firewall, all security software (make sure you're not surfing, emailing, IMing, etc. -- everything else off).
Make sure PC has Bonjour zero-config installed. Re-install iTunes if you're not sure. If you're really not sure, download and install:
Enable Library sharing over local network in iTunes prefs/sharing. (Don't think you need this, but just in case).
Make sure Remote is installed properly on iPhone. If you're not sure, delete it, reboot iPhone, re-install it from iTunes.
Make sure PC and iPhone are connected to same network, same wifi router. Everything the same.
Launch Remote on iPhone, add a connection, get the PIN code.
Type the PIN code into iTunes.
If that works, slowly, step by step, re-enable your PC security, including firewall, etc. If it stops working, you've found your point of failure. If not, start launching your commonly running applications. Same deal.
iPhone never appears under iTunes devices and firewall is off.
Add a Remote on AppleTV is there - but not enabled.
MacPro, AppleTV and iPhone all latest software, natch.
Sucks, doesn't it?
That sucks! :-(
I've been playing with this and what's happening is that remote.app can't connect to my library with the firewall up. I tried adding itunes to the exception list to allow all incoming connections to itunes, but it's still blocking remote.app. I turned on library sharing in iTunes, but that didn't work either. What do I need to add to my firewall exceptions to allow remote to access my library? Running without a firewall at all is just not an option. Any more suggestions?
I've confirmed that apple's built in firewall is denying connection to itunes. I HAVE added itunes to the exception list in firewall to allow all incoming connections. Here's the log entry:
Jul 22 02:58:30 Iago Firewall39: Deny iTunes connecting from 192.168.0.5:49219 uid = 0 proto=6
Any help? This is a show-stopper issue, and I'm surprised that Apple would let this slip by. This is an obvious issue that should have turned up during QA testing. The software simply does not function with this occuring.
What is one supposed to do? Which settings need to be changed, SPECIFICALLY?
Frustrated at this stupid app and Apple for not fixing what must be a very simple problem for them to fix. I'm using a MacBook Pro and Airport Express. You think they would have made these three devices work together well before releasing the app.
Usual problem solving involves reducing things to the simplest possible conditions (fresh install of all devices all on the same router), testing, and if it works, slowly adding back complexity (custom applications and configurations), testing each one at a time, until it stops working and thus, identifies the problem for you.
Since most people wouldn't consider a Remote app sufficient reason enough to go through the trouble of reverting to fresh installs, it makes it difficult to trouble shoot.
if you don't know how to do it try using www.portforward.com. click "guides," then "port forwarding by router." That should give you an idea how to access your router and get to the right place to forward 3689 and 5353.
it works perfect for me now! I hated it (because it didn't work) and now I love it. It's a killer app.
good luck getting it to work.
I don't think that can be true. bonjour and itunes are on my exceptions, app not working (no device appears in itunes) and still won't work with no firewall at all.
Shame, looks like a populat tool for those who can use it
Nope. Many of the posters, myself included, have allowed exceptions for iTunes (in the firewall settings) and for sharing the iTunes library (directly in iTunes settings).
That's really the entire reason I posted, was that people seemed to be posting that "you just have to open up the firewall!" -- not seeing that from the majority of posts, this is not solving the problem.
And I'm no computing idiot. I know how this stuff is supposed to work. "Supposed" being, here, the operative term.
I'd just like it if Apple addressed these "simple" problems.
Finally got my phone to appear on itunes as an option by installing an old USB wireless adapter I had. 2 days of trying to get the wired network to work was too much!!
Issue of not finding library was resolved by switching back from windows firewall to zonealarm where I had more control
I'm sure someone with nmroe experience could have resolved both the netwok and firewall issue but I couldn't. Hope you all find a fix that works
Close and re-open iTunes after that... the computer starts perking up.... recognizes the iphone... and viola!.... the remote app works like everyone has been saying.
You cannot select 'Essential services only'. Select Set access for specific services by application, and 'allow all incoming connections' for iTunes.
I had same issue, OSX firewall settings are NOT what I'd call intuitive.
The cause of mine was I deleted ituneshelper.exe from the startup applications,when I've put it back problem resolved
No luck, as for others the phone does not appear in iTunes. Very frustrating when one has 12 years experience as a SysAdmin. Does anyone from apple read this forum at all?
Leopard defaults to minimum firewall security (accepting all incoming connections)... though I've also tried specifically excepting the itunes app.
I can see my iphone and various computers checked-out ip address from my router status page. File sharing works between my pc and my mac so I know the router is allowing communication between hosts. I do, however, have a sneaking suspicion that this problem may be router specific.
EVERYONE: PLEASE POST WHAT ROUTER MODELS YOU ARE USING.
I'm using Netgear WPN824v2 at the latest firmware. (btw I hate this router... don't get one it has a firmware memory leak that netgear will not acknowledge... I have to restart it every day).
(itunes>preferences>advanced>look for iphone was unchecked)
All was OK with previous version.
go to preference --> 'device' tab --> check 'Look for iPhone and iPod Touch Remotes.
It works immediately!
so can someone plz help thanks
Make sure your computer and remote are on the same WiFi... i went through the same headaches until i noticed that my IPhone had connected to my neighbours' unsecured WiFi instead of mine (my Imac was on mine).
So now i know whats messing it up.
I use Avast! on Windows 7.
If they added more options for the firewall side of this, or instructions on what ports to open etc it might be useful!
The thing that made it work in the end was in my SYSTEM Preferences > Internet & Network > Sharing. You have to activate "filesharing" there. Try it!
Might have something to do with the DCHP lease time in the wireless settings on the router, if i figure it out i will repost. Hope this helps.
My wi-fi must be setup correctly otherwise I wouldn’t even see my iphone as a device in itunes.
This is my last attempt at getting this to work!
July 12th, 2008 at 7:56 pm
thanks for that - all works fine!!
Iphone shows up in ITunes, I enter the 4 digit access code but no joy.
Dont get any error message to give me a clue as to what is happening
I've tried with both router and software firewalls disabled, ports forwarded. Have the same prob on a Vista machine and XP Pro connected to the same network.
Have also reinsalled Bonjour app but makes no diff
Would be very grateful for any replies
Any suggestions? Thanks.
My Laptop (running vista 64) is not on the same router IP as my Ipod Touch. My ipod is recognized by itunes but when i insert the code, it says connecting and then it just stops and does not connect.
i am on a college campus and am using the college wifi network. Shouldn't my laptop and ipod thus have the same router ip. what can i do to solve this ?
I am using the Remote software on my 3gs and have iTunes 9.0. For some reason, only 10% of my songs are showing up on the iPhone Remote software. How can I get all my music to show up?
Only a basic test, but will report if further tests bring up any reliability issues.