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October 23, 2009

Snow Leopard thaws to the Apple Remote, thanks to Remote Buddy Author

One of our biggest disappointments with Snow Leopard was the fact that third party support for the Apple Remote was changed (or broken), and applications like Plex, EyeTV and VLC were on the receiving end. Apart from one person who posted “Plex works perfectly on Snow Leopard for me!” (who either used the keyboard exclusively, or suffered from extreme overoptimism) our forums and twittersphere filled with complaints about the new behavior, which rendered the Apple Remote practically unusable for Plex.

Our friend Evan Schoenberg looked into the issue, and ended up filing a bug with Apple, who replied “this is a known issue, which is currently being investigated by engineering“. We had high hopes for 10.6.1, but unfortunately it didn’t help. There are rumors that 10.6.2 may contain a fix, but also rumors that the change in behavior was intentional.

Over the months, we’ve also gotten to know Felix Schwarz, the author of Remote Buddy, the popular and powerful remote control solution for the Mac. He has been extremely helpful to us, reviewing our remote code, suggesting improvements, and sending us sample code. He is, without a doubt, the foremost expert on the Apple Remote outside of Apple.

After investigating the problem, he decided a few weeks ago to provide a solution himself, in the form of a free alternative driver for the IR receiver which would provide reliable exclusive access to the Apple Remote across Leopard and Snow Leopard. In addition, he’s made available an Objective-C class which makes adding Apple Remote support to an application trivially simple.

The driver itself comes in the form of a preference pane, easy to install from the web site. Once installed, you’ll be able to use Plex perfectly in Snow Leopard with the Apple Remote, with no annoying loss of exclusive access that you may have observed under Leopard.

I can’t emphasis how great this development is, and how grateful we should all be to Felix. Please consider purchasing Remote Buddy, at around $30 it’s a great deal and an extremely powerful solution for those who like to customize the way the Apple Remote works with their Mac.

We are currently testing the integration of Felix’s code into Plex (many thanks to Evan for working on this!), and this is one of the reasons why 0.8.3 is taking a bit longer than expected.

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