With HippoRemote, who needs WriteThere?

Snow Leopard lets you enter Chinese input by drawing on your laptop's trackpad, just as you can do now on the iPhone. Unfortunately, this feature is not supported on my first-generation black MacBook.

This gave me the idea for an app that would let me enter Chinese characters on any Mac — desktop or laptop — by drawing them on my iPhone. I would have loved to use Air Mouse for this, but it doesn't support Chinese. If I ever got around to it, I was thinking I might call my app "WriteThere".

Well, wouldn't you know, today I discovered HippoRemote and it blows my idea out of the water. Like Air Mouse, it lets you use the iPhone as a remote trackpad and keyboard, but unlike Air Mouse it does support Chinese input. It wasn't obvious how to make this work, but once Albert from customer support explained it to me, it was extremely simple:

  • Download HippoVNC and install it on the Mac. Normally you wouldn't need to install a server (another advantage over Air Mouse), but you need this if you want support for international keyboards.
  • In HippoRemote (on the iPhone), turn on the "Send Unicode" option and turn off the "Live Typing" option.
  • When using the HippoRemote keyboard, you'll be entering sequences of characters and hitting the Return key to send them to the computer. When you hit the Return key, it'll go back to trackpad mode, which will be annoying if you want to enter more than one fragment of text. To avoid this, tap the "Pin" button to tell HippoRemote to stay in keyboard mode.

"Write There" might be a good exercise someday. I bet it would make a great CocoaHeads demo.

By the way, lest anyone overestimate my language skills, I barely know any Chinese. I didn't have a practical use for Chinese input; I thought maybe I could sell it on the App Store for a little pocket money, plus it would be cool to show my Mom.


3 thoughts on “With HippoRemote, who needs WriteThere?

  1. Pingback: HippoRemote Tip #8 – Writing In Chinese at HippoRemote Blog

  2. Note: Great article!

    One update: The "Send Unicode" setting is now called "International" under "Keyboards" in the current (June 2010) version of Hippo Pro.

    Also, if you haven't already you need to enable the Chinese Handwriting keyboard on the iPhone/Ipod itself (from http://thisfinger.com/support/enable_handwriting)


    Go to “General” > “Keyboards” > “International Keyboards”.

    Scroll to the bottom of the list. Chinese keyboards are listed at the bottom of the list.

    Tap “Chinese (Traditional)” or “Chinese (Simplified)”.

    Switch on “Handwriting”.

    There is an extra Earth/Globe button which allow you to change the keyboard layout to other languages.

    I got stuck on those two steps, so maybe this will help!

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