Control MediaPortal, PowerDVD, MPC-HC and Foobar2000 from iPhone via WIFI

Posted on September 3, 2011

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I wrote two articles last year regarding how to use your mobile phone to control MediaPortal, PowerDVD (see here) and Foobar2000 (see here). Things have been changed during the past few months as I’m now switching from Windows mobile to iPhone. I’m quite happy so far with iPhone except the annoying ITunes which is way too slow and restrictive (in fact, I only use it to sync apps). In this article I’d like to introduce some applications that enable you to control your HTPC from your iPhone via WIFI.

Remote control MediaPortal, PowerDVD and MPC-HC

I find Mobile Mouse Pro is a good candidate for controlling media applications while you are sitting in front of your TV or projector screen, and it works in a very similar way to GRemote as described in the previous article. The application requires a server component (which can be downloaded here) installed, and it supports both Windows and Mac. All configuration and settings are stored at server side and therefore nothing need to be specifically configured for your iPhone.

Don’t be fooled by the name “mobile mouse” as it is not only a WIFI mouse but also a fully featured remote controller for media applications, Internet browsing, and PowerPoint presentation. The advantage of Mobile Mouse Pro comparing to GRemote is that it can detect the current active application and apply the corresponding profile configured for that application. As an example, when switch from MediaPortal to PowerDVD, Mobile Mouse Pro changes the media remote profile automatically with correct shortcuts assigned for PowerDVD instead of MediaPortal. In this way, you don’t need to configure all your media applications using the same set of shortcuts, instead you should configure one for each and let Mobile Mouse Pro to decide which profile to use. When configuring a profile, you can even define eight customized buttons with the text you want in the media remote panel, which provides a great flexibility for the controls that are not originally supported in the application.  Another feature I like is the application launcher which allows you to start, close or hide an application. By default, all quick launch and pinned programs in Windows 7 are managed by the application launcher. You can also configure Mobile Mouse Pro to launch applications from a specific folder.  As a WIFI mouse, Mobile Mouse Pro also works excellently, however I find it is less practical to use a mouse to control media applications, therefore I basically don’t use the mouse function much.

A very detailed step-to-step guide which covers all features of the application can be found here, and the following video demonstrates the full capability of its iPhone client:

All keyboard shortcuts for MediaPortal can be found here, all keyboard shortcuts for PowerDVD can be found here, and all keyboard shortcuts for MPC-HC can be found in its configuration (Option->Player->Keys). The table below are the shortcuts I normally configure for MediaPortal, PowerDVD and MPC-HC, for media centers you obviously also need arrows, escape and enter keys which are available in the internal keyboard or can be configured in the media remote panel as customized keys. 

Actions MediaPortal PowerDVD MPC-HC
Start Play P Enter Space
Play/Pause Space Space Space
Stop B S . (dot)
Backward F5 B Left Arrow
Forward F6 F Right Arrow
Previous F7 P Page Up
Next F8 N Page Down
Full Screen X Z Ctrl+Enter
Switch audio A H A
Switch subtitle L U S
Volume down Down arrow
Volume up = = Up arrow
Mute M Q M
Menu F9/Right Click L/Right Click Right click
Close application Alt+F4 Alt+F4 Alt+X/Alt+F4

Finally, after configuring all media applications, you might want to backup the settings which is available at "C:\Users\${USERNAME}\AppData\Local\AirMouse".

Remote control Foobar2000

For Foobar2000 I found the TouchRemote DACP server plugin most convenient. DACP is invented by Apple and it is a protocol to remotely control audio playback from mobile devices. It is "widely" supported in "many" audio players such as ITunes and MediaMonkey (require a commercial plugin which is available here), and there are two advantages of DACP:

  • It is a true two-way protocol that allows you to view your entire music library from your mobile device and choose the song or playlist you want to play. All information in your music database are sent to your mobile device so that you can view album art and artists information etc.
  • Apple provides a free remote application (available here) for both iPhone and iPad which works in a similar way to iPod except that the playback is carried out at server side instead of your iPhone.

TouchRemote DACP server can be easily installed as a plugin to Foobar2000, and you can find the download and documentation here. The only issue for me is that Apple remote only support PAUSE instead of STOP, and the WASAPI plugin for Foobar2000 is not event-based, therefore when a song is paused it keeps playing repeating noise which is quite annoying. The workaround for me is to use Mobile Mouse Pro to either stop the playback or close down Foobar2000. It would be fantastic if either Foobar2000 supports event-based WASAPI or TouchRemote DACP server allows to treat PAUSE as STOP in the feature. After all, who the hell wants to pause a song???

Posted in: HTPC