Using Your iPhone as a Trackpad

Snatch for iPhoneThere has been a huge amount of speculation about whether Apple would release a laptop with a trackpad resembling an iPhone or iPod touch screen. While this always seemed unlikely, there’s no doubt that the iPhone has the perfect sized screen to function as an (albeit very over-featured) trackpad. Snatch is an application for the iPhone which allows you to do just that — use the device as a wireless trackpad for your Mac. Snatch features include:

  • Using your iPhone as a wireless trackpad — tracking, clicking, two-finger scrolling, two-finger tap, window dragging and screen zoom.
  • Separate scrolling mode for easy one-finger scrolling in either linear (iPhone style) or iPod clickwheel-type circular scrolling.
  • Separate keyboard mode for entering text.
  • Automatic configuration — just install each piece of software and, so long as both devices are on the same network, it just works
  • Can also be used in an environment without WiFi by creating an ad hoc network on your Mac.

On the iPhone

Snatch comes in two versions. There is the full featured version for about $8, and Snatch Test, with limited functionality (just single click and tracking). The software is really well designed, and seemed pretty much bug free. I think that a picture can indeed convey a thousand words, so here’s a few pictures of the software in action:

The standard trackpad in action

The standard trackpad in action

Scrolling with Two Fingers

Scrolling with Two Fingers

The Wireless Keyboard

The Wireless Keyboard

On Your Desktop

As with many applications which link to your Mac, there is a counterpart desktop application — Snatch Server — which runs in the background to allow your iPhone to connect with a password. It runs in the menu bar, and provides some basic options for configuring the software:

Snatch Desktop Application

Limitations

Snatch has some great functionality, but there are a few niggles which I’d like to see fixed in future versions.

  • No support for three finger or four finger scrolling as offered in the new MacBooks — I’m not sure if this is a limitation of iPhone hardware though
  • Tapping with two fingers, if set to perform right click, doesn’t work
  • When scrolling, the action is inverted. It would be good to have an option to change this, as it seems a little unnatural.

Limitations aside, this is certainly one of the most useful iPhone applications I’ve had the chance to use. For the price, it provides fantastic functionality, and seems to be improving all the time. I would definitely recommend giving the Snatch Test application a try to see if it’s something you’ll use.

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