If you’ve dreamed of decking out your house with one of those fancy Sonos sound systems think again. With a few Apple products (iTunes, Airport Express and Apple TV), and some simple set up you’ll be able to create a music, and video system, that can be listened to and watched anywhere in your home.
The secret ingredient is a free app for your iPhone or iPod Touch from Apple, simply called Remote.
Remote (a free download from the App Store) gives you the ability to control any iTunes library, or any Apple TV on your wireless network. Add to the mix an Airport Express base station and you can also switch on or off AirTunes, the functionality that lets iTunes stream music over WiFi to the Airport Express, which can be connected to your amp or a set of speakers.
Using Remote, in typical Apple fashion, is dead easy. The hardest part is pairing your Remote with all the devices you want to control. To add your iPhone or iPod Touch as a device, click on Settings and Add Device. In a similar way to setting up an Apple TV with iTunes, you’ll need to enter a four-digit passcode that pairs the two devices together.
Once your Remote is paired with iTunes or Apple TV, accessing your media is like using the iPod functionality on the iPhone but better, because you can also search your content — something that, ironically, is only available on older style iPods.
If music is playing you can easily pause it, skip backwards and forwards. Remote displays album art too. If you’re using it to control your Apple TV you can also select movies, podcasts and TV shows via Remote and they start playing via your TV.
If you pair your Remote with iTunes, and you’ve got AirTunes stations on your network (and remember, Apple TV also doubles as an AirTunes station) you can toggle the AirTunes stations iTunes transmits music to in the settings screen of Remote app. If you set all AirTunes stations to On you can have the same music playing on all your base stations.
In my experience (which has now turned to every night when I’m at home) Remote works best if you set the Performance switch in the Settings menu to On. This causes Remote to stay connected to either iTunes or the Apple TV, and reduces the lag from when you switch the iPhone or iPod Touch out of sleep and when it displays the controls.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice. At the sweet price of free, Apple has once again increased the value of all my Apple equipment by providing a seamless, portable and intuitive way for me to control my music. I love it.