Crap I love: Signal turns your iPhone into a really nice remote control

iphone_03_small.jpg I’ve been hoping that someone was working on using the iPhone browser as a media controller and when I saw Signal, I decided to give it a try.

It works like this: you install the app and it runs an internal webserver that you connect to using safari on the iPhone. Whatever is running in iTunes on your computer shows up on the phone exactly as if it was in the iPod mode (with album art, controls, etc). So if you have an airport express hooked up to a stereo, you point your iTunes at the speakers and start playing some music, then walk away from your computer.

Once you pull up Signal in your phone, you can control your entire iTunes library remotely. You can pick playlists, set them to shuffle, change to specific songs, try different genres, even pull up podcasts and video. The interface on the iPhone is really what sells it — it looks and functions exactly like a real iPhone app, but it’s all in safari. It’s really quite amazing and turns the phone into a whole house audio remote for me.

6 Comments

  • Whole house – do you have multiple room speakers hooked up to your mac? I’ve been wanting to do something along those lines, running additional PC speakers into the living room from the office, and even to the backyard, but I’m not entirely sure how to do it.

  • I had two airport expresses as my entire network before. One was hooked to my cable modem (everything wireless) and a second was in my living room hooked to a stereo.
    Then I got an airport extreme point to use with my cable modem (so I could have wired connections) and once I did that, I freed up another airport express. So I hooked it up to some bookshelf speakers in a spare bedroom upstairs and it can both extend the network and play music, which is nice.
    Basically you just buy an airport express, have it join your network, then hook some speakers up using a male-to-male mini-headphone jack. Put one in any room you want audio in and you should see them in iTunes as optional speakers in the lower right hand corner.

  • So awesome.
    When I first got my beta invite for OmniFocus, I spent a weekend hacking together an AppleScript-based web interface so I could manage my GTD lists from my phone. It was a total kludge, but the Omni folks played around with it for a bit, and liked the concept enough to roll their own iPhone web interface and include it in OmniFocus. It’s slick as hell.
    It’s so clear to me that all applications will eventually have their own web server. Lots of challenges locking this stuff down and easy to use. But Apple has all the pieces of the puzzle in place: Bonjour for local discovery, and whatever the .Mac feature is in Leopard–I’m blanking on the name–that lets you tunnel into your computer when you’re on the road.
    Winer talked about this years ago, in relation to devices. Called it a fractional horsepower HTTP server.

  • is there any way you can play different songs in different rooms using this wireless system you speak of?
    i mean, i know you can send a song from your mac to a bedroom speaker set, but can i play a different song in the bedroom as opposed to the one playing in the office? or do i need to have another computer set up in the bedroom, thus making this pointless

  • That’s the only downside to the app — if you have multiple speaker setups, you can’t select them in the app, because it’s not part of the iTunes API. You have to walk back to your computer and pick the right speakers to change it.

  • I was really hoping Apple would build something like this into the iPod touch. It just seems so obvious. But, it looks like I’m going to have to wait a while.

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