iPhone/iPod touch only: VLC Remote Free lets you play, pause, and skip tracks on the mighty VLC Media Player on any computer from your iPhone or iPod touch. Its (currently) 99-cent sibling, VLC Remote, gives you full playlist control. Both are fairly simple to set up on your computer and hook up over a wireless network, and work well in conjunction with the new playlist features in the latest version of the open source player for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Setting up remote access requires only a quick plug-in download on all three platforms, and the Free edition can then skip forward and backward on a pre-loaded play list, as well as control the volume and move around a video or audio file. The full app, however, allows selecting playlist items, and even remotely browsing your system's entire hard drive for media. Read on for a walkthrough and screenshots of both VLC Remote versions.
After grabbing the iPhone or iPod app, head to the developer's site to grab a setup helper and follow the instructions to install it. As it installs, the VLC Remote helper will ask whether you want to open up streaming on local networks or over the internet—unless you're really sure you've got your ports locked down, it's better to choose the local-only route. On Windows systems, you'll likely get a familiar Windows Firewall prompt, which you can hit "Unblock" on.
Once that's set up, open VLC Media Player on your system. Launch VLC Remote from your mobile device, and you'll first get a nag screen reminding you to install the helper application. Past that, you'll see a connection screen asking you to choose an IP address—thankfully, the systems that it detects VLC running on get the familiar road cone icon next to them.
If you've grabbed the free version, you'll see the basic controls, a single bar of iPhone app ads at the top, and a few semi-helpful buttons along the bottom:
The full version grants a scroll area below the controls to flick through your playlist with, and removes the ads and "Get Paid Version!" button:
What's really neat in the full version, though also kind of scary, is hitting the "Browse" button and seeing a complete hard drive directory, which you can follow all the way back to your hard drive root. I couldn't find a way to change or limit this ability in VLC or the app's settings during my brief look, so if you do, please share it in the comments.
VLC Remote Free is a, uh, free download for iPhones and iPod touch models running at least the 2.0 software. VLC Remote is 99 cents (for a limited time, according to the developers).