Developer: Evan Schoenberg, M.D.
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Rowmote - Most advertising and marketing messages I encounter registers as background noise somewhat akin to what you’d hear in a crowded mall around the holiday season. You see messages everywhere on your television, favorite websites, mobile phone, billboards, airline tray-backs, and even urinals. Even though I can usually tune them out, the sheer volume of interruptive marketing does get annoying.
But ever so often though, a marketing message resonates and sticks with you through some real tangible experience. Evan Schoenberg’s Rowmote is an exemplary example of an application qualifying Apple’s messaging that the App Store is “solving life’s problems, one app at a time,” and I’m happy to write a piece that details why it’ll be a great tool for all Mac users.
First and foremost, Rowmote is a utilitarian application. It turns your iPhone/iPod touch into a wireless remote control that influences a variety of desktop applications on any of your Mac computers (OS X 10.4 or later). With a quick install of the Rowmote Helper program found at www.rowmote.com, you’ll be good to go once you launch Rowmote on your iPhone. Setup was painless as I was paired up with my computer within minutes.
Though you can control many applications, the UI in Rowmote is consistent. The control mechanism is a four way d-pad (i.e. “+”) and five primary touchscreen triggers are placed on the d-pad. The y-axis controls the volume, the x-axis controls the previous and next functions, and the intersection features an on-screen button that toggles play and pause. Underneath the “+” is a menu button that launches the Front Row application. Lastly, there is a horizontal bar at the base of the screen that selects the application of interest and controls the settings. Those of you concerned about the UI in Rowmote can rest easy, everything is laid out efficiently.
To the question of whether Rowmote works as advertised, it’s a big fat “YES.” I’d say that Rowmote rivals the responsiveness you’d find using any other remote on any other device. Because the Rowmote connects to your computers over Wi-Fi (instead of IR), you don’t need to aim your iPhone at your computer to get it to register. Granted I don’t have all the applications supported by Rowmote on my Macbook Pro, the ones I do have (e.g. Front Row, Keynote, Powerpoint, Quicktime, iPhoto, and iTunes) worked perfectly. I haven’t had one problem with connectivity issues on my end.
Is Rowmote a perfect application? Not in it’s current form, but it’s darn close. I’d like to see an update allowing me to close programs through Rowmote. Also, having a scrolling information bar in Rowmote telling me what song is playing in Front Row or iTunes would be a killer addition. Even without those value adds, Rowmote is the kind of application that makes me feel lucky and privileged to be in the Apple ecosystem. This is a bona fide killer app!