Picture me fumbling my way through demonstrating the functionality (or lack thereof) of twenty features under three OS's on a single monitor while juggling two cameras and some video capturing software. Yes, a written review is the way to go. However, a quick and dirty demo is available for those who want a taste. I made it the same day I installed GMote, and I had done little to no twiddling at that point. So, with the disclaimer that it only demonstrates what someone with little knowledge experienced having spent little time on figuring anything out, and that it was created after finding out I had lost a lot of footage, here is a video. (When I said cursory, I should have said cursed.)
O.K., so what is GMote? It consists of two applications - a server app that runs on your computer, and a client that runs on your Android device. The client hooks up with the server on your local Wi-Fi network or over the Internet. Once it's connected, the following features are available:
- Browsing of files
- Playing music on your computer or streaming it to your phone via a local network or over the Internet
- controlling of music; play/pause, FFW/RW, skip tracks, stop, browse library
- Viewing album artwork on the phone
- Launching and remote control of DVD movies; play/pause, FFW/RW, skip chapter, stop
- Use of your phone's touchscreen as a mouse touchpad
- Launching of websites (beta)
- [blank] = no
- X = yes
- P = partial
|Ubuntu 8.04||Mac OSX 10.5.6||Windows XP, SP2|
|Launch Song (local)
|Music Control (local)
Note that touchpad functionality gives you the ability to do all of the things I wasn't able to achieve in the table above, except display album artwork on the phone. That's just not the way GMote is intended to work.
Music Control (local) refers to the ability to pause, skip, and seek through tracks playing on the computer. I was able to control music under all three systems when streaming to the phone. So in terms of controlling music that was playing on the computer, Ubuntu gave me total control, Mac gave me quirky and unreliable control, while Windows only allowed me to switch tracks by launching another - I could not stop the music.
What's strange about running GMote on Windows and Linux is that no music player launches. VLC is prerequisite, and is what broadcasts your tunes, but you will not see an interface. I'd like to see iTunes launch in Windows (giving me artwork) and maybe Amarok launch in Linux - but that presents a debate in itself. I'm happy to see Linux support at all. iTunes does launch on Mac.
As you can see, Mac was best supported overall. However, it was Apple that caused me the most aggravation during the tests, because files crippled with DRM cannot be streamed to non-Apple devices. There are ways of fixing this. (I thought I had taken care of all of my tracks, but apparently not.) And yes, I endorse stripping tracks of their DRM, wholeheartedly - and by the batch, of course. I can vouch for QTFairUse.
The first thing you should know about the Linux daemon is that if you run into problems, you'll need to start it with desktop effects disabled. This is due to a Java runtime problem. Secondly, you can't start it with a launcher (even with an absolute path). You need to use the terminal. CD into your GMote directory (probably ~/GMote/) and type "./GmoteServer.sh". Once it's running, go ahead and restart your effects, and everything should work fine. But make any daemon setting changes first - like password.
Since my Ubuntu desktop is my local server for *everything,* it's always running. So this isn't a hassle for me. But if you reboot everyday and want GMote to launch from a startup script, think again. I worked on this for days, and the dev's suggestion, as specified above, is the only thing that worked for me.
I'm not a big fan of Windows anyway, but I have to say that I probably wouldn't use GMote if it were my default OS. Once a track is playing, that's it. You can either start another, or sit this one through. I didn't spend much time troubleshooting, because I didn't really care if it worked. I boot into Windows a few times a year - usually for Acrobat Pro or for a review like this. Your mileage may (most likely will) vary.
- My number one complaint about GMote is that there is no way to save the IP and ports entered manually for streaming and control over the Internet. I have a dynamic IP, and even though it usually remains unchanged for weeks at a time, I don't like having to remember it and type it into my phone every time I reconnect to my server. I think a simple profile system is in order here.
- I'd like to see separate buttons for FFW/RW, and skip. As-is, tapping a button increases the speed, while a long press skips tracks. That's the exact opposite of how I would have designed the software. It's rare that I want to fast forward, but I skip tracks all day.
- The daemon on the server end forgets the password after a reboot. This was the case on all three operating systems.
Keep in mind that in order to stream over the Internet, you must enable port forwarding on your router so that your TCP port (8889 by default, for streaming) and UDP port (9901 by default, for mouse control) are forwarded to the local IP address of the computer you are trying to connect to; i.e., 192.168.1.100. You cannot set up multiple computers for Internet streaming on the same local network without running into major problems.
Verdict: Super-duper huge thumbs and big toes up for this killer FREE app.