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arjunrc

A little baffled by Alfred Remote

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Hi, I have been used Alfred on my mac for a few years. I've even written some workflows, one of which I've published (http://www.alfredforum.com/topic/2074-multiple-time-zone-calculator-workflow/)

 

I just bought Alfred remote and installed it in iOS and I am a little baffled. What exactly do people use it for?

 

As I understand:

 

1. I can use it to launch any arbitrary workflow, page or command, but besides launching it I can't really do much with it

2. If I want to interact with any application on my mac, I need to write a workflow for it that feeds it commands - correct?

3. There is no way to get results back from a workflow I run back to my phone. For example, I would love to run my multi timezone calculator, feed it some free text time from my phone and get the results back on my phone - I assume this is not possible? (I added a remote trigger to my workflow and that resulted in it being launched on the mac)

 

So my questions is:

Given that this seems to be 1 way traffic from the device to the mac and there is no feedback mechanism, what are people using it for? (besides iTunes control and shutdown/sleep etc) - I am missing why I'd want to launch stuff on the mac but not be able to control them or interact with them afterwards with input from my phone (not pre-scripted workflows where inputs don't come from the phone, or simulating keypresses via applescript which are again pre-scripted)

 

I love Alfred on my mac and use it all the time. I'd like to know if I am missing any capability on the remote 

 

Thanks

Edited by arjunrc

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I saw comments like this in a couple of the reviews as well.  Here are the kinds of scenarios I've been using (in the few days).

 

1st is with dictation as I described in another post - you can open stuff on your Mac and interact with it quite well from a distance this way.  I'd been working with dictation on the Mac a bit over the past few months and Alfred Remote is a great complement to it for hands-free use.

 

2nd is for "across the room" type tasks for which existing remote solutions don't exist or aren't adequate.  I wrote the Aperture Remote workflow to be able to triage photos (i.e. give a preliminary rating / flag for future editing / printing, keepers vs. trash, etc.) from a distance.  (On the other hand, I'm not going to give up using Keynote's built-in remote since that offers a lot of facilities, notably presenter notes, that can't be implemented in Alfred Remote as it stands).  Also "now playing" for apps (like Radium) which don't provide this facility in a large screen format.  I'm also working on a workflow to open Safari in full-screen (couldn't get Chrome's kiosk mode automated....may try Plainview instead, too) for use with Hootfeed.  And I want to write a remote for Skim's presentation mode, ideally one that would switch to Skim in presentation mode and turn on mirroring, then allow me to turn off mirroring and switch back to Keynote.  (I regularly teach in large lecture halls where I prefer to be able to leave the podium, so this is quite appealing).

 

3rd is one I didn't expect but which I found myself using a lot.  I have limited desk real estate at work and end up with my laptop in front of my keyboard in front of my desktop.  I found using the desktop with the trackpad at my right hand and Alfred Remote at the left a lot easier than using the trackpad alone (i.e. for a lot of the same situations where I'd normally use Alfred at the keyboard rather than a mouse-based operation).  This a scenario where the desktop is primarily used for reading, listening, watching, and the real work is getting done on the laptop.

 

--Derick

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Thanks Derick. I guess I am struggling between finding a use case which can withstand the test of time vs initial novelty. Your example of dictation is nice. The challenge is you need to use the mic of your Mac not your phone which means you need to be close to the Mac which then brings up the point of sustained use vs novelty . Similarly I saw a cute action on PowerPoint control but without feedback it's also a very limited function. Another example: the shutdown function seems to prompt "are you sure?" On the Mac.. Limited use of a remote then (I know this dialog can be eliminated, so bad example, in retrospect).

But fair enough. I don't see a technical limitation for the creators to add a 2 way channel and I'm sure it will show up in the future. In the mean time I will continue to soak ideas from work posted here.

Thanks.

Edited by arjunrc

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Another user posted a great response. Oddly, I can still see it on my phone but not on my PC (not sure if it was deleted and its my browser cache on my phone) where he explained his perspective of what remote is today and what it could be in the future. That was a great response (summary: its not really a remote control today, its more of a remote launcher. But in future it could be much more - which I agree). 

 

To the user who might have chosen to delete the response - I think it was spot on and puts good perspective -- if you'd like to repost.

 

For now, I'm treating my Alfred remote as a Sharper Image product - love the looks and potential but also scratching my head about it  :P

Edited by arjunrc

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I'm a little baffled as well, but I bought it to give Andrew a little more money to keep supporting software that I love and use every day and to test workflow integration with Remote. Who knows, maybe I'll find a good use case for it.

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One thing is for sure... this is just the start for Alfred Remote! Stay tuned :)

 

Good to hear!

 

I'm a little baffled as well, but I bought it to give Andrew a little more money to keep supporting software that I love and use every day and to test workflow integration with Remote. Who knows, maybe I'll find a good use case for it.

 

Can't argue with that. Alfred and Plex - can't do without either. Proud power pack and sharper-image-remote user for Alfred and lifetime plex pass member here!

Edited by arjunrc

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I've had similar thoughts, though I had the same thoughts about Alfred in general at first. I get the feeling that there's lots of powerful things that will come from Remote in future, and that it will take a while for them to come out - especially as features get refined/added.

 

I need to spend some time really digging deep to see what I can use it for, but here's what I've been doing so far:

 

* Locking my computer when I leave the keyboard to go to the bathroom/kitchen/whatever and forget to do so

* iTunes control (as you mentioned)

* Controlling VLC. This is awesome, as I use my laptop to plug in to a big screen to watch films on, and can't be bothered getting up to change the volume/full screen the app/turn subtitles on/off, or delay/speed up the audio to fix lip synching. I've created a workflow for this if other people are interested. One question this use brings up is using the remote on multiple computers (like my wife's). Could I activate the powerpack on two different laptops and connect the remote to them both? Or would I need to purchase two powerpacks? I'm sure the answer for this is pretty easy to find, but these are just the thoughts as they come to my head.

* Spotify control. Writing an app to control Spotify as a jukebox like iTunes.

* Photoshop control. I can never remember the shortcuts for stuff like Curves/Levels etc, so maybe having my phone as an extra input device with useful icons will help. Will see if it's actually useful or just a nice idea in time.

 

Some sort of feedback loop in future versions would be great - with on screen displays for certain things. 

 

Looking forward to seeing what people do with it!

Edited by stephenmcleod

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I'm a little baffled as well, but I bought it to give Andrew a little more money to keep supporting software that I love and use every day and to test workflow integration with Remote. Who knows, maybe I'll find a good use case for it.

 

Bought it for much the same reason  :)

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Well another scenario I've discovered through some error and trial is to control a computer with an unresponsive keyboard and mouse.  I managed to get everything locked up and beachballing, ready to power down in desperation, but Alfred Remote was able to Quit All Apps.

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I'm a little baffled as well, but I bought it to give Andrew a little more money to keep supporting software that I love and use every day and to test workflow integration with Remote. Who knows, maybe I'll find a good use case for it.

I bough it for the same reason since I love Alfred so much but right now I am using it to put my machine to sleep or lock my screen remotely but no much else.  I guess if I actually want tot do stuff I will have to write workflows that can take action without me needing to provide input directly to my MAC.

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I have renamed it Alfred Sidekick in my mind. It all makes a lot more sense that way.

 

It's much more powerful (and makes more sense) as a "magic keypad" to put next to your keyboard rather than something to control your computer from across the room.

 

It can still do the latter to a certain extent, but I think you'll find it much more useful for the former application, at least in the general case.

Edited by deanishe

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I, too, had the same thoughts as I installed and began playing with AR.

 

I agree with Deanishe...I view AR as a magic keypad. Here are some of the functions I'm using (and loving) on a regular basis:

 

As a side note, I use multiple (7) "desktops" so I have MANY programs up and running all the time - each on their own desktop space.

 

Controlling iTunes (somebody walks into my office, I can push pause or mute). I know this is on my keyboard, but it seems easier to find/quicker to press on AR.

 

Jumping to certain websites (I have a few sites I visit multiple times per day. No matter which desktop I am currently using, I can jump right to the website with a quick and simple touch.

 

Launching apps/files (In my workflow, my open apps take up pretty much all of my screen real estate, so I rarely look at my desktop. AR lets me quickly launch apps. I know I can do it from Alfred on the keyboard - and I still do sometimes - but sometimes it feels quicker to use AR...especially when I messing around with my phone or something)

 

Putting my Mac to sleep (When I leave my desk, I like to put my Mac to sleep...but I usually forget until I'm already on the move. AR makes it simple)

 

Opening Alfred Preferences (Since I am still in the "play" mode with AR, I am opening preferences quite often...much easier to do in AR then using my mouse and/or keyboard.

 

I'll be the first to admit that I've never become a diehard keyboard power user....I think maybe that is part of the reason why I am enjoying AR so much.

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I have renamed it Alfred Sidekick in my mind. It all makes a lot more sense that way.

 

 

This is the metaphor that best describes what I am using AR for. As a freelancer, I find myself having to "switch modes" a few times throughout the day. AR has given me a way to do that easily. Some examples:

Good Morning, sir - Launches a handful of evernote notes that I use to plan my day, etc., as well as my email client and a browser window with a few of my "morning reading" tabs open. I can use Moom to then arrange those windows how I like them. I will use the "quit all apps" included with AR to shut this down when it is time to work.

Client Workspaces - I am working on a few long term projects and have a button that opens the related folder in finder and then launches the appropriate software I am using on the project. (Ex 1 - Text Editor & FTP software for web project, plus an evernote note for that project(task list, etc.)  Ex 2  - HTML email conversion, opens folder of old emails, website of the new service, and the evernote note I use to track things that are done )

 

Mute the World - This is just to serve my own insanity. I have a Sonos in my office, but will also occasionally listen to a podcast on my desktop while working. Or have a TED talk in a browser window, etc.  I have a script that basically cycles through all my outputs and mutes them all. Handy when my phone is ringing and I am snapped "out of the zone" ... I don't have to figure out what I need to mute.

Call/Meeting - I can trigger this to open a new evernote note to take notes, open my calendar, and my current workload note. Very handy when I get a call in the middle of something. I can "shift gears" and be engaged in the call with the data I most likely need right in front of me. 

 

Coffee Break - Opens tweetbot, my RSS reader, and a few social media accounts. "Quit all" after this one, too.

 

I also have a button for my email client, slack, and my messages window, if only to pull those windows to the front quickly

THE KEY FOR ME is that I have my phone and ipad in a dock charging on my desk during the work day. I've selected the feature that keeps the device on and unlocked while AR is open, so I have a little touchscreen controller that is always on a quick reach from my keyboard. I know I could trigger all/most of this right from the keyboard, but I use a paper planner to track my biggest tasks for the day and keep a work log (I want this to be digital, but paper is frictionless, so that is what I use). So my mental process is this:

Complete a task -> Physical action: check off/log in planner to right of keyboard -> Decide what's next -> Physical action: select the workspace/mode on AR -> Start task

Those gross motor actions (reaching away from the keyboard) are a HUGE boost for me in switching contexts/modes. It's a small thing, but it keeps me sane and my time sheets accurate. 

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This is the metaphor that best describes what I am using AR for. As a freelancer, I find myself having to "switch modes" a few times throughout the day. AR has given me a way to do that easily. Some examples:

 

Thanks to the last few posters for sharing how you use Remote; It's exhilarating to see Remote be used in different ways, and great to hear it's helping you guys be productive all day :)

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Remote was for me a great surprise. But when i clicked on "Show Alfred" on the phone it popped up in the mac (logic !) but i was hoping for the keyboard on the iphone to show up for me to write something to send to the mac.

 

Maybe on another update, who knows !

 

What i wanted was to open a list a list of a folder content on the phone by clicking on a folder but this doesn't exists yet.

 

Other than that, i really like it. I will need to do more workflows for my everyday job productivity !

Just like Kracke.

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Another Remote use scenario I've been playing with is for multi-step music playing tasks.  This is probably better explained by example.  I have set up a remote trigger that runs a single applescript that:

 

- turns on my Onkyo amplifier (via serial port connection to my Mac)

- sets the input on the amp to the Apple TV (ditto)

- sets the volume on the amp to an appropriate level

-  adds the Apple TV to the active AirPlay devices on iTunes

- shuffles my usual mix playlist

- sets the computer volume to an appropriate level

- sets iTunes volume to maxed (since the amp and computer volume settings were calibrated on this basis, & this lets me use Remote's iTunes controls to lower the volume or mute everything at once if needed)

- starts playing the mix

 

So I can hit one button on my phone as I head to the living room and have everything going when I enter the room.  No need to find the IR remote for the amp, fiddle with iTunes settings, etc.  Magical.

Edited by dfay

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Another Remote use scenario I've been playing with is for multi-step music playing tasks.  This is probably better explained by example.  I have set up a remote trigger that runs a single applescript that:

 

- turns on my Onkyo amplifier (via serial port connection to my Mac)

- sets the input on the amp to the Apple TV (ditto)

- sets the volume on the amp to an appropriate level

-  adds the Apple TV to the active AirPlay devices on iTunes

- shuffles my usual mix playlist

- sets the computer volume to an appropriate level

- sets iTunes volume to maxed (since the amp and computer volume settings were calibrated on this basis, & this lets me use Remote's iTunes controls to lower the volume or mute everything at once if needed)

- starts playing the mix

 

So I can hit one button on my phone as I head to the living room and have everything going when I enter the room.  No need to find the IR remote for the amp, fiddle with iTunes settings, etc.  Magical.

 

Whoa that sounds amazing!! Which Onkyo amp do you have?

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Remote was for me a great surprise. But when i clicked on "Show Alfred" on the phone it popped up in the mac (logic !) but i was hoping for the keyboard on the iphone to show up for me to write something to send to the mac.

 

This is in the plan :)

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I would love to be able to kick off a workflow with an argument - typing that argument in ios. 

 

I'm a web developer and sometimes my VM is executing time consuming compiles / builds. Doing that remote stuff would be amazing. Maybe I can use Remote to monitor the vm by SSH too.

 

My favourite workflow I've made triggers a hotkey that kills personal IM / music apps when the dev ops guy is troubleshooting on my machine. I should make it switch from Colemak to Qwerty too.

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This is the metaphor that best describes what I am using AR for. As a freelancer, I find myself having to "switch modes" a few times throughout the day. AR has given me a way to do that easily. Some examples:

Good Morning, sir - Launches a handful of evernote notes that I use to plan my day, etc., as well as my email client and a browser window with a few of my "morning reading" tabs open. I can use Moom to then arrange those windows how I like them. I will use the "quit all apps" included with AR to shut this down when it is time to work.

Client Workspaces - I am working on a few long term projects and have a button that opens the related folder in finder and then launches the appropriate software I am using on the project. (Ex 1 - Text Editor & FTP software for web project, plus an evernote note for that project(task list, etc.)  Ex 2  - HTML email conversion, opens folder of old emails, website of the new service, and the evernote note I use to track things that are done )

 

Mute the World - This is just to serve my own insanity. I have a Sonos in my office, but will also occasionally listen to a podcast on my desktop while working. Or have a TED talk in a browser window, etc.  I have a script that basically cycles through all my outputs and mutes them all. Handy when my phone is ringing and I am snapped "out of the zone" ... I don't have to figure out what I need to mute.

Call/Meeting - I can trigger this to open a new evernote note to take notes, open my calendar, and my current workload note. Very handy when I get a call in the middle of something. I can "shift gears" and be engaged in the call with the data I most likely need right in front of me. 

 

Coffee Break - Opens tweetbot, my RSS reader, and a few social media accounts. "Quit all" after this one, too.

 

I also have a button for my email client, slack, and my messages window, if only to pull those windows to the front quickly

THE KEY FOR ME is that I have my phone and ipad in a dock charging on my desk during the work day. I've selected the feature that keeps the device on and unlocked while AR is open, so I have a little touchscreen controller that is always on a quick reach from my keyboard. I know I could trigger all/most of this right from the keyboard, but I use a paper planner to track my biggest tasks for the day and keep a work log (I want this to be digital, but paper is frictionless, so that is what I use). So my mental process is this:

Complete a task -> Physical action: check off/log in planner to right of keyboard -> Decide what's next -> Physical action: select the workspace/mode on AR -> Start task

Those gross motor actions (reaching away from the keyboard) are a HUGE boost for me in switching contexts/modes. It's a small thing, but it keeps me sane and my time sheets accurate. 

 

Dear Kracke,

 

I don't even know if you're still here around, but I need to thank you for your post! I think that's the way an (automated) operating system should go.

Hope you can help me understanding better how you set up all those scenarios, maybe in another thread.

But, anyway: great post, thanks a lot! :D

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