iPhone App Review: Snatch

The floors in my house are incredibly cold this time of year. Being a resident of East Texas, I’m sure there are those who’d hem and haw about how I don’t know what cold is, but I made the unfortunate choice to take up residence in a sixty-year-old house with hardwood floors, and there are days when I consider opening my front door and selling tickets to what could with a minimal amount of labor be transformed into the world’s first residential ice rink. This, combined with the fact that I’m terribly lazy, makes me accept any tool which allows me to keep my feet off my frigid floor with open arms. In short, I am the person Hoofien had in mind when they designed Snatch.

The concept behind Snatch is simple: the iPhone is basically one big touchpad, so why not put it to work as one? There are two components to the app – a free server, available from Hoofien’s site, and the client, which is the bit you’ll shell out $7.99 for in the App Store. After configuring the server, which is as painless as it could possibly be (just set up a name and password for the session), simply connect your iPhone to your home’s wireless network, input the session data, and away you go. The primary screen looks just like a notebook’s touchpad: a right and left mouse button and a big area for cursor control. There’s also a screen that’s dedicated entirely to scrolling, so there’s no need to worry about fat-fingering a scrollbar along the side of the main touchpad area. A third screen reveals a keyboard, as well as the remote section, which is where Snatch really shines.

Snatch allows you to configure up to four separate remote controls to manipulate any program with keymapped functions. You can pick the size, placement, labels, and even colors of as many buttons as you can cram onto the iPhone’s screen. I have remotes set up for VLC and iTunes: combined with an HTPC connected to the TV in the living room, I have all the functionality of a full-featured, dedicated remote for each program, for a full $105 less than Microsoft’s overpriced monstrosity, with a touchpad and tiny keyboard to boot should I get the itch to surf the web from the comfort of the cushions. And, since there’s no IR receiver to fiddle with, I can jump up, hoof it across the frozen wasteland of laminated pine, hop into bed, and have Hulu singing me to sleep within minutes.

Forget gaming. Snatch is the sort of thing that puts the iPhone in a class of its own. Get it in the App Store for $7.99. Your toes will thank you.