Monthly Archives: February 2015

Control iTunes on your Mac by wagging your finger

ControlAir lets you skip songs, adjust volume and pause music with a simple movement of your hand.

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ControlAir controls for iTunes.

There are a lot of different ways to control media playback on your Mac. You can use the built-in keys on the keyboard, the Today widget, the mini-player, an app on your iOS device, and the list goes on.

Today, you can add yet another way to control music Mac using your Mac’s iSight camera and your hand. The magical control experience comes in the form of a free app called ControlAir.

After installing ControlAir from the Mac App Store, you’re guided through a brief tutorial that doubles as a setup process.

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ControlAir setup screen.

In short, you raise your hand with your index finger pointing up. The camera on your Mac identifies the gesture, and brings up ControlAir’s controls. Moving your finger down selects the highlighted control, be it skipping a song or cranking up the volume.

ControlAir suggests being within 1 to 5 feet of the camera for best results, although I was able to use it from across the room (roughly 10 feet, 3 meters) on more than one occasion when testing.

There’s an elephant in the room we need to address: the fact your Mac’s camera is left on the entire time you’re using the application, watching your every move. The app’s controls live in the menu bar of your Mac, making it easy to pause or quit the application at anytime should you feel the need.

If you’re OK with that, you’ll be glad to know ControlAir also handles playback commands for the following apps:

  • iTunes
  • Spotify
  • VLC
  • QuickTime Player
  • VOX
  • Rdio

How to enable Smart Lock for Google Apps accounts

Google Apps users will need an admin to enable the feature before it can be used on a Chromebook.

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Smart Lock setup on a Chromebook.

Google recently launched its Smart Lock feature on Chromebooks, where a user can unlock his or her laptop simply by having an Android device nearby.

The feature was easy to setup on Gmail account, but as noted in this guide walking users through the setup process, my Google Apps account was lacking the feature altogether.

After some troubleshooting, reaching out to Google’s PR team, and subsequently talking with Google Apps Support, I was able to figure out the process for enabling Smart Lock on an App account.

Since Smart Lock is disabled by default for Google Apps users, you’ll need to have admin privileges or ask the admin for your account to enable it.

You can do this one of two ways. The first and easiest, is to visit admin.google.com and sign in to your account. From there, click on Device Management followed by Chrome. Enable Smart Lock and Save Changes.

However, I ran into issues after receiving the above directions. When I went to the Device Management panel, Chrome was nowhere to be found. Eventually I discovered you can access Chrome settings by signing into your admin page (same link as above) and clicking on Apps followed by Additional Google services, then Chrome Management. As with the previous method, once you’re on this screen you simply need to enable Smart Lock and save the change.

After enabling the new feature, restart your Chromebook and then follow the directions outlined here to get it up and running.