It’s that time of day again, when I like to kick back on my bed and watch the latest episode of “The Big Bang Theory” on Hulu. The only source of illumination now is the glow of the monitor sitting on my desk across the room. It is all quite nice until the neighbor’s dog starts barking and I need to get up and out of bed, walk over to the computer and turn up the volume.
My first solution to this dilemma is the obvious one- bring my bluetooth mouse and keyboard to bed with me. This is fine, but without a surface for the mouse it can be cumbersome to manage and the keyboard seems superfluous when all I need to control is the volume. If only there were some way I could control the mouse, the volume, the play/pause functions and when the show ends, put my computer to sleep… What!?! TouchPad for the iPhone/iPad can do all of that and so much more!?! That’s great!
Remote For What?
In a word: Your Computer. With Touchpad you can use your iPhone or iPad as a keyboard, mouse, remote for applications from VLC to Hulu to iTunes. Play your music, control your movies, heck, I’m even typing this with Touchpad!
But before you can use all of these features and more, there’s a quick set-up process that you’ll need to follow. I’m going to briefly outline the 2-step process required to use Touchpad with my MacBook Pro, but complete steps along with additional information (including set-up with Windows and Linux computers) can be found on Edovia’s Touchpad support section.
Step One: Enable Screen Sharing (From System Preferences… -> Sharing)
Step Two: Add your computer as a server from “Settings” section of the Touchpad app.
Touchpad is extremely simple to use, but it packs some nice features for almost any remote controlling need you might have. The first screen is just a normal mouse that looks quite similar to any typical MacBook touchpad. Just move your fingers around on the surface, (I like to use my thumb with my iPhone) and the cursor will follow on your connected device.
In the upper-left hand corner of Touchpad there is a menu of buttons that allow you to show or hide the keyboard or the universal remote, and on the iPad there is a button for the extra keys such as “Cut”, “Copy” and “Paste”, “Undo”, “Minimize”, etc… We’ll talk more about these features later.
Beyond the Basics
When you’re comfortable handling the mouse functionality, it’s time to move on to the big leagues. Touching the gear icon in the upper-right corner will take you to the “Servers” screen, where you can choose a server (computer) to connect to, adjust the settings or get some help from the in-app instructions.
The server selection process is explained in detail on the Endovia support page that you probably used to set up Touchpad, and the instructions are pretty self-explanatory, so let’s take a minute to look into the different settings available:
When you enter the “Settings” screen, you are given several options from the look-and-feel (Try the Dark Theme), to the app behavior. I’d like to highlight the ability to use two, three and even four finger gestures with Touchpad. If you don’t already have a multi-touch input device for your computer, these may be a little bit confusing at first, but there’s really not much to them. (It is worth noting that some hardware will probably not be able to process multi-touch gestures, so be warned.)
Assuming that your computer does do multi-touch, it’s really convenient to use the inertial scrolling (like a scroll wheel on a mouse), swipe around with three-finger moves and even activate special functions such as Exposé on the Mac.
Hitting the Keys
As noted earlier, you can also use Touchpad as a wireless keyboard, which can come in handy in some of the most unexpected scenarios, although I wouldn’t recommend using it to copy “War And Peace” into digital form for your private e-book collection.
But what I have really found useful has been the “Special Keys” keyboard that gives you a whole range of quick-access functions that you would commonly encounter. I already mentioned some of those functions earlier, but a quick glance at a screenshot will give you a better idea as to the limits and abilities of this feature.
Remote Control for Entertainment
In the end though, one of the main reasons that I came across Touchpad was in my search for an easy-to-use, yet versatile universal remote for my movie-watching and music-listening convenience. This is easily my most used feature and I love it! Again, a quick glance at a screenshot will speak volumes, so check it out:
After the initial set-up, the app is extremely user-friendly and intuitive to use. The functionality and convenience has been well worth the $4.99 price tag for me! What do you think? Do you use Touchpad or another remote app?