How can I control my iPhone without touching it?
March 17, 2015 4:25 AM   Subscribe

I need to give a demonstration on an iPhone 6+, and need to have full control of the device. Difficulty level: I will not be holding the phone, and will not have a desk surface for a traditional mouse. In a perfect and just world, I would simply be able to connect a bluetooth mouse and use it like any other input device, but I understand that iOS does not support mice. Assume I do not need any multi touch gestures, just taps and swipes.

After doing a bit of research, I've discovered that if I jailbreak, I can run something called BTStackMouse, which will allow for connection of a Bluetooth Mouse, however I can't seem to actually find a device that I can use in the palm of my hand.

The devices that I have been able to find have mostly been 'Finger Mouses' from Japan. Things like this, this, and this.

Something like this is pretty much the perfect device, as the trackball would probably give me the most accurate control, and it's small enough to be discreet.

The problem with all these devices is that they are all USB, or require a dongle, which pretty much takes it off the table.

So, what do you think? Is there a magical BT device out there that will do what I need, or is there another solution that I haven't thought of? (Ideally one that doesn't require jailbreaking) I thought there might be some sort of assistive device or universal access feature, but not seeming to have any success down that route.

Bonus question! Is Jailbreaking these days simply a terrible idea, security-wise? Assume I am just following guides on iclarified etc.
posted by LongDrive to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This might not work in your situation, but if you can show a Mac screen (or projection from a Mac) in your presentation, you can use your phone itself as the controller and show what's happening on its screen via QuickTime Recording. (The feature is called "recording" but it could just as easily be happening in real time.)
posted by bcwinters at 5:14 AM on March 17, 2015

I can't imagine what your situation could be, but most people solve this the other way: aircast from the phone to a display, and show that.
posted by devnull at 5:24 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

Not on iPhone, but this 50+ yo was pleasantly astonished at technology theses days when I got a chromecast and found out I could project my phone onto my TV. Not sure if that would suffice in your demonstration, but it is something to consider.

Or, can whatever app you need to demonstrate be run in an emulator on a pc/mac that is then projected for the demonstration?
posted by 724A at 5:32 AM on March 17, 2015

Depending on what you need to do with it, you could possibly use iOS Simulator on a Mac (comes with Xcode).
posted by neckro23 at 6:33 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Apple Watch isn't available until next month, but may be able to provide some of the BT functionality you're looking for.
posted by fairmettle at 6:48 AM on March 17, 2015

If what this boils down to is that you need someone to see the screen while you demonstrate something, I would just mirror the screen someplace. If you have access to any computer, Mac or PC, the Airserver app should be able to do that. If you have access to a TV with an HDMI port, you could do this easily by buying or borrowing an AppleTV. Either one of those seem a lot easier to me than trying to hook up a BT mouse to your phone.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:56 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do you need to show the screen exactly as it would look to someone who is viewing a similar device? My first thought was using Switch Control on the phone to be able to manipulate things on screen and then having a small joystick or something However this would work if you mostly wanted to run apps or start movies but the look and feel of what is on the screen would not look the same as on a device that was running without Switch Control.
posted by jessamyn at 7:59 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

You might want to extend your search to Android devices and even to Google Glass. I remember there being some interest in the Glass community for alternatives to the built-in Glass control mechanism.
posted by doctor tough love at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2015

Like, maybe something like this: Motorola Bluetooth Smart Controller for Android. It's not going to be an out-of-the-box solution, though - you'll almost certainly have to write some code to make this puppy work.

(BTW thanks for the info about Switch Control, Jessamyn - I'd not heard of it before)
posted by doctor tough love at 10:55 AM on March 17, 2015

Best answer: jailbreak and then get this. My friend has the USB dongle version of that keyboard and it works pretty great.

I was going to suggest a gyration air mouse, but they're overpriced and they apparently never made a bluetooth version.

There's no real downside to jailbreaking if you don't install a bunch of random tweaks. Its the mods that decrease the stability and security(with openssh and such) of the system, not jailbreaking itself.

Btstackmouse worked great when i last used it. That was in like, 2011 though.
posted by emptythought at 5:39 PM on March 17, 2015

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