Review of Rovio Driver iPhone App for WowWee's RovioPosted by Peter Redmer on Monday, 14 December 2009
Many of you may already be aware that Rovio has a "built-in" client optimized for the iPhone and iPod Touch, which allows you to take control of Rovio when you don't have access to a laptop or more powerful PC. However, this built-in client is a bit limited and sometimes difficult to control; requiring multiple presses for continuous movement, no headlight function, and a relatively small display.
Setting Up Rovio Driver
First, you must download the application from the App Store, at a cost of $1.99 USD (a bargain for this improved functionality, in my opinion. I spend more on a cup of coffee.) Then, you can access the simple setup screen to access your Rovio. You can enter either your local IP address, or as I have done, your dynamic DNS web address. This way, you can use Rovio Driver outside of your local network. (For more information on setting up Rovio to work over the Internet, click here.)
How to Use Rovio Driver
The interface for Rovio Driver is very simple and intuitive, but there are a few things you need to know. The joystick on the left is used to move Rovio forwards and backwards as well as "strafing." To turn Rovio, you need to swipe left or right across the viewfinder. Finally, the head is controlled by double tapping in the viewfinder.
Along the bottom of the interface, you will see several buttons. Here's what they do (from left to right):
- Turns headlight on and off (if you have the headlight attachment, it will control this.)
- Tells Rovio to go to the location you have set as home
- Takes a photo (super cool feature, it saves to your iPhone camera roll for easy sharing)
- Enables accelerometer control (replaces joystick functions)
- Settings screen
User Experience and Conclusions
Overall, I have enjoyed using Rovio Driver and I plan on using it exclusively over the "stock" client, mainly because it allows remote headlight control. The app also works fairly smoothly and has not crashed yet. Finally, the combination of intuitive controls, a clean interface, easy setup, and smooth photo capture makes this a winner at two bucks.
As with any app, though, this one isn't (yet) perfect and there are a few things you should be aware of. First, I experienced fairly poor Rovio control over a 3G connection (with full signal.) I cannot verify whether this was the connection on my end or a problem with the app, but it was cumbersome - your mileage wil most likely vary. Second, the turn function seemed a bit wonky; swiping across the screen sometimes caused Rovio just to jerk around rather than turn. Finally, there seems to be no audio support at this time.
Other than that, the app is excellent, and definitely worth the purchase if you really love your Rovio (and your iPhone or iPod Touch.) I sincerely hope that Bertrand sees success with the app and continues to tweak and improve it for Rovio fans everywhere.