5 Best iPad Apps for Controlling Your Mac or PC
The long-promised convergence of television and the Internet is finally coming. More and more consumer electronics devices come with features like WiFi and built-in support for Internet services. Tools like Boxee (even with the Apple TV) and Windows 7 Media Center make it easier than ever to connect your computer to your TV to enjoy online content. However, controlling a computer from the keyboard, mouse and remote setup is different than controlling it from a desk. Below are the 5 best iPad apps to control your Mac, PC (be it Windows or Linux).
iPad App 1. HippoRemote Pro 2.0
Even before HippoRemote Pro 2.0 was released, this app had a permanent spot on my iPhone’s home screen. The Pro version of the app is $4.99 and a less-feature rich basic version is available for $0.99 and a new Lite edition is available for free.
What makes this iPad app so great is that it works with Mac, Windows and Linux, and acts not only as a viable trackpad/keyboard combo, but offers all kinds of app profiles (plus you can create your own) to control applications like Boxee, Windows Media Center 7, Hulu Desktop, your web browser, iTunes, and more. Plus, you can create macros, easily switch apps, wake up your device over LAN, and use international keyboards.
The new version of HippoRemote Pro also features an awesome Boxee plugin that adds the same kind of gesture control as the official Boxee iPhone app, as well as a built-in web browser (for checking the web, IMDB or Facebook and Twitter client that lets you check your timeline, mentions and send tweets all from the remote application.
iPad App 2. Keymote
Keymote from Iced Cocoa is a Mac-only remote control that works by creating little application-specific keysets to control specific actions. Think of it like those macro-based IR remote controls (like the ones Sony used to sell before the Logitech Harmony series took over the market).
What sets Keymote apart is its built-in Keymote “store” where you can download keysets from other users to use with your favorite iPad apps. The interface is really nice and for users who really like to have key commands and shortcuts at their fingertips, Keymote is great.
iPad App 3. Remote Jr.
Remote Jr. comes in two flavors, the full version for $7.99 or the lite version for $1.99. Remote Jr. Lite doesn’t support Wake-on-LAN and doesn’t have a keyboard or trackpad/airmouse, but will give you a taste of the app itself.
More than other remote control apps, Remote Jr. really is more of a fully-functional VNC (Virtual Network Computing) app.
Most of the remote control apps just use WiFi to connect to your components or PC, which is great — but Remote Jr. can connect over GPRS/Edge or 3G, meaning you can access and control your Mac or PC even if you aren’t at home. That’s pretty powerful. There are other VNC apps out there (namely iTeleport: Jaadu VNC) that have more features, but they also cost a lot more ($24.99) and don’t have the remote control and application switching interface built into them like Remote Jr.
A new version of Remote Jr. was just submitted to the App Store, and amongst other additions and improvements, it will bring audio streaming and Apple TV support.
Remote Jr. is a great iPad app for people that want a cross between a VNC app and a remote control, without having to buy both.
iPad App 4. EyeTV
Elgato’s EyeTV system is an absolutely fantastic way to turn your Mac into a DVR to record, edit and playback HDTV programming from over the air or cable.
The EyeTV iPad app is a $4.99 companion that not only lets you control your EyeTV system, but lets you set up recording, view your schedule and programming guide, and play back recording from your computer on your iPhone. You can even stream live TV over a 3G connection, a la the SlingPlayer if you use the free EyeTV Live 3G web app (the EyeTV app will let you watch live TV and record over WiFi without a problem).
When you consider the price of a SlingPlayer and the corresponding mobile app, it makes the EyeTV that much more of a bargain.
iPad App 5. Snatch
Snatch is a $3.99 remote control app that is extremely similar to both HippoRemote and Keymote. You can control your Mac or PC (and Snatch supports all the way back to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger).
It has a multi-touch trackpad, a keyboard and a remote control editor. You can edit and design the layout of your remote control, adding buttons to specific functions. You can also create a “dock” of sorts for the applications that you like to frequently access.