x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

App of the Week: Turn your smartphone into a remote control

Remote Mouse is an app that fulfills an almost instinctive need: to point something at something and make it do something.

Ever since 1955 when Zenith introduced the Flashmatic, a glorified flashlight that pioneering couch potatoes used to change channels on their 12-inch consoles, the modern world has been in a torrid love affair with remote controls.

Fifty-six years later, remotes remain joined at our hips - often two or three per hip.

We use them to pause scary movies before mindlessly taking them with us to the bathroom. We throw them in disgust when our team loses, but are careful to aim for a chair or some other cushiony place. When their batteries are almost dead, we'll sit and wait accidentally on Channel 4 until they store up enough juice to get us to Channel 45.

And although smartphones do an excellent job remote-controlling our lives metaphorically, they don't quite fulfil that literal need we all seem to have - the desire to point something at something and make it do something.

The app

Fortunately there's Remote Mouse (Dh7.3, iPhone, iPad, Android) an app that serves as a mouse and keyboard for your desktop when you're more than an arm's length away from your desk.

The details

Though it takes some concentration to set up, Remote Mouse can handle all interface functions on Windows and Mac computers.

Before using it, however, you must download some software on your computer from remotemouse.net so the two devices can wirelessly communicate. Once the desktop software is installed and activated, and both devices are using the same WiFi network, the iPhone app then connects to your computer automatically, displaying a keyboard and trackpad. Move your finger along the trackpad on your smartphone screen, and the mouse on your screen will follow your directions. Reposition your smartphone to landscape mode, and an entire keyboard, with all function keys, will appear.

To "double-click" using Remote Mouse, simply double-tap; to scoll, drag two fingers on your touchscreen.

It will take a few minutes to get the hang of things, but once mastered, you can find many uses for the app, not the least of which is controlling multimedia presentations from a distance using the accelerometer-based mouse functions.

Standing on the shoulders of its 1950s-era predecessors, Remote Mouse would surely make its great-great-great grandfather, Flashmatic, gleam with pride.

Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at cbrandao@thenational.ae