One of the greatest joys of having an Android phone, for me, is discovering an app that fills a need that you didn’t even know you had. When I first downloaded gPad — an app that allows you to remotely control various programs on your PC or Mac — I thought “Well this is neat.” But the more I’ve used it, the more I’ve come to appreciate its value and see how useful it will be in the future.
gPad allows you to connect to your computer either via USB or wifi after downloading a program to allow the phone to communicate with it. There is software available for PC or Mac, and the download of the gPad app on the phone and the computer is free. The free version is limited, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
The most immediately accessible feature of gPad is the touchpad. As you might expect, it allows you to move your mouse around the screen, and right- or left-click. I found the response time to be excellent when connected via USB, and still better than any other app I’ve ever used before over wifi. This is a novel concept by itself, but it’s a great supplement to the other features this app offers.
Where this app really differs from other remote apps is in its ability to control various apps with custom gPads tailored to that program. Available now you can find gPads for Windows Media Player, Winamp, PowerPoint, Picasa slideshows, Google Docs presentations, and more. Also included is the ability to modify or create new gPads as you need, which can then be saved to your phone or uploaded to the server, so many new gPads will likely become available in the upcoming months.
The ability to use your phone as a remote to control your presentation or to cycle through your music from a distance (I can see that being very useful at a party) is definitely something that I never realized my life was missing, but am eager to use it in the future. And the ability to create your own gPads ensures that whatever you really need, you can create if you can’t find it out there already, though that’s not always the easiest task. The customization options are impressive, and this app has a lot of potential to become even cooler as it’s had more time on the market.
This app is not without its issues, however. While I didn’t notice anything that I would call a “bug,” there are quirks that could use some ironing out. For one, the touchpad simply can’t meet all your needs if your phone doesn’t support multitouch, which mine does not. I certainly can’t blame the app for that, but it would be nice to provide some assistance for those of us who can’t hold down a button and move the cursor at the same time in this app. The app also seems to have a tendency to time out occasionally when connected via USB, requiring you to re-establish the connection on the computer. I have received word via email that before this app is declared “final,” however, these things will be addressed.
While this app has some room to grow via future updates, it is remarkably versatile and highly customizable. It will become more useful as more people get their hands on it and start making new gPads, but as it is now there are only 8 or 9 available. The free version allows unlimited use of the trackpad, but only 15 minutes per day of the various gPads. The purchase price for unlimited use is only $1.99, though, and it is easily paid for in-app via an easy Paypal button. Overall, I would give this app a solid 9 out of 10, based on the following criteria:
- Ease of Use: 8/10
- Intuitiveness: 9/10
- Menu Controls: 9/10
- Amount of Options: 10/10
- Battery Usage: 9/10
- Pricing: 9/10
- Total: 9/10
While this app might not be the kind of thing that everyone is desperately craving, I imagine that most people will benefit from it on some level. A few more connection options (Bluetooth, perhaps) would be appreciated, but if you’re thinking to yourself “Hey, that sounds neat,” then I recommend that you download it and check it out, and I expect that you’ll find it far more useful than you initially suspect.