With Gmote you can turn your Android phone into a powerful and flexible remote control device for your PC, Mac or Linux computer.
It’s a great additional function for your smartphone, as if it didn’t already perform so many essential functions in your day-to-day life that you wouldn’t know what to do without it. You can use your phone as a virtual mouse, control iTunes, or even stream media from your desktop computer to your phone. It’s a great option for anyone who has a large amount of multimedia content on their desktop PC and doesn’t want to be tied to a desk to be able to access it. It’s completely free, and runs smoothly over Wi-Fi with surprisingly little configuration.
1: Get the two apps
Gmote comes in two parts. Grab the Gmote app for your Android smartphone from the Market, and also head over to www.gmote.org/server on your desktop computer to grab the desktop server application that your phone will communicate with. Complete the installation of both before you can begin.
2: Install apps
Ensure that you have Wi-Fi activated on both PC and phone, and that they are both connected. Gmote works via your router so requires that all devices are connected to the same one. In addition, be on the lookout for any messages from the firewall on your PC once you begin attempting to connect – if asked for permission then be sure to grant it, and enable it for future use as well.
3: Set up the PC app
Run the Gmote app on your PC. The first time you do this you will be prompted for a couple of settings. The first is to enter a password to ensure that no non-verified devices will be able to connect. While an important step, we’d suggest keeping the password relatively straightforward in this instance to make it easier to enter on your phone. The second step will be to point the app to certain folders or locations on your PC where your content is stored. You only need enter anything here if you store some media content in nonstandard locations – regular iTunes content, for example, will be located by default. As a result, you can skip this step if you wish.
4: Find the server
Now launch the Gmote app on your Android phone. The default screen is the media controller, but first check that you are going to be able to connect to your PC. Press the Menu button and select the option ‘Find server’. There should be a single entry at the top of the screen on your phone, which corresponds directly to the address of your PC. Click this to connect. In future you will be able to see previously used locations listed in the History section – handy if you are connecting to more than one machine.
5: Control your media
When you click on the server name, your phone will establish a connection to the PC and you will be returned to the media controller UI on the device. A few different media players are supported, including iTunes, depending on what OS your PC runs. It is also possible to use Windows Media Player. The controls are straightforward: to fast forward within tracks tap the forward arrow; to skip
to the next track tap and hold on it instead. When you play a song, the artwork associated with it will be displayed on your phones in full-screen mode.
6: Browsing your music
Click the Browse button in the top-left of the screen. You will now see a list of locations where you can select the media content you want to play. The top option will enable you to manually search through folders on your PC for any additional content. Beneath these you will be able to play a DVD if there is one in the drive, and also view the content you have within your media player. Your iTunes playlists are displayed – be aware that choosing one that contains a lot of music tracks will take some time to download the list to your phone. When you find the track you want to play, simply tap on it to begin.
7: Play on your smartphone
Under the Browse option you can also select the ‘Play on Phone’ option at the top of the screen. This setting will stream certain files from your computer to your phone. It doesn’t work with your iTunes playlists, so you need to manually locate the content on your hard drive in order to play it. Only certain files are supported at present: MP3 files can be streamed at pretty good quality, but many video formats including AVI will not work.
8: A virtual mouse
The other main feature in Gmote is the ability to use your phone as a mouse. Click the Menu button and choose the Touchpad option. The phone’s screen now turns into a virtual trackpad. Swipe your finger over the display and the mouse pointer on your PC’s screen will move with it – tap once for a left click, and tap and hold to right-click. You can also use the trackball or optical D-pad on your phone to scroll up and down. In addition, tapping the keyboard icon in the corner of the screen will open your Android’s virtual keyboard so you can enter text.
9: Remote YouTube
Finally, press the Menu button once more and choose the Web option. From here you can browse to any website on your phone, then click the ‘Open on Computer’ option in the top-right of the screen to open that page on your PC screen. It’s a handy shortcut for browsing for YouTube or other video content, especially if you are using your PC as a media device connected to a full-sized TV. The feature is still in beta, though, and although it works it can be a little patchy and occasionally slow to function.