iPhone App Review: Air Mouse Pro

By Mike on 11:54 am

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Using a standard keyboard & mouse to control your computer isn't always practical. It would be ideal to remotely control your HTPC without resorting to bulky wireless keyboards or expensive Bluetooth enabled universal remotes. That's where Air Mouse Pro (AMP for sort) comes in. This app gives you full remote control of your computer using your iPhone or iPod Touch. It normally retails for $6.99 but is currently on sale for a thrifty $1.99. The app boasts a long list of features including multi-touch support, accelerometer enabled motion control for mouse movement, media controls, web controls, two button mouse, programmable hot keys, and a full digital touch keyboard. This is a god send for HTPC users. The app works for both OS X and all current versions of Windows from XP up to 7.

I tested the app with Windows 7 RC1 and OS X Leopard. In order for it to work, you have to download a server client so it can interface with your computer. Everything sets up easily and once that's installed, Air Mouse will automatically detect your computer. On Windows 7, it setup quickly. I didn't need to adjust anything with the firewall. OS X required some minor firewall adjustment as I had forgotten I had set it to allow only essential services. You'll have to set it to allow access for specific applications and then add Air Mouse Server (recommended), or set it to allow all incoming connections (not recommended).

So how well does Air Mouse preform it's job. Pretty well actually. I'm actually using it to type part of this article. It used the standard iPhone keyboard and therefore is subject to the same flaws that it is. Unfortunately, autofill is missing meaning that it won't automatically correct mistakes or punctuate contractions. Plus you have to flip back and forth between letters and numbers/punctuations, which can be irritating, especially if you just want to type a period at the end of a sentence. The mouse functions vary well. Under OS X, it is vary responsive and accurate. You can switch between trackpad mode and motion sensing wand mode by tapping the cross icon in the top right corner of your iPhone screen. I'm actually curious as to how PC based shooters would play with this since it works similarly to the Wiimote. You are required to hold down a virtual trigger to move the mouse pointer in order to avoid accidental input. Air Mouse provides four function modes. Standard input with keyboard, media remote complete with playback buttons, web remote that accesses basic browser controls, and a hot key mode which could alternatively function as a gaming mode. The hot key mode can be used to execute key commands and quick launch programs. All work as advertised.

Under Windows 7, I did notice that input seems to be more sluggish than the OS X version. I'm not sure what the reasoning for this is. It is also reported that the app can occasionally crash. The people behind AMP say that this happens if the iPhone runs out of memory, and rebooting the phone fixes the issue. I've had AMP crash once on me so far. It's also worth noting that using this app will probably kill your battery. It works through wifi, which can drain a lot of power. My iPhone is usually plugged in next to my couch so it's not an issue for me. I just recommend putting your phone to sleep when not using AMP. The app does support adhoc wifi connections so a router isn't necessary provided your computer has built in wifi. It works with wired systems that connect to a wifi router as well.

There are a couple of features I'd like to see improved. Namely Bluetooth support. The AMP people claim this is because Bluetooth is not accessible to third party apps. Whether this has changed since iPhone OS 3.0 was released is unknown. It would be vary handy to be able to control something like a Playstation 3 with it. Wake-on-LAN would also be handy. This would allow you to remotely start up an HTPC. I'm aware that there is another app that does just that but it's not worth $2.99 for just that feature. Speaking of price, I think AMP is more than worth the $1.99 sale price. However, I think the regular price of $6.99 is a bit much given what else is in that same price point. I think I would probably pay $4 at most for this feature. It's not a full replacement for a keyboard but it's definitely vary handy for HTPC enthusiasts.

You can download this little gem from the iTunes App Store, where else.

Update July 9th: One little thing I didn't realize about this app is that you can't use it to log into a computer (ie type in your username and password). This is because the server has to be running in order to do this; so you need to be booted to the desktop. It's a bit of a pain in the butt that could easily be fixed with Bluetooth support. However, when/if Apple plans to open up BT access is anybody's guess?

What Works
-Remotely control any Windows or Mac OS X PC over wifi
-Responsive controls
-Easy to set up
-Wiimote like motion control function
-Multiple functions for media and web browsing, quick launch applications and hotkey commands

What Doesn't Work
-No Bluetooth support
-Occasionally freezes on iPhone
-iPhone keyboard not the best in the world
-No iPhone autofill text correction function
-No wake-on-LAN support
-Full price of $6.99 is a bit much, pick it up while it's on sale

Score: 8.5 out of 10

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