TechJunkie is a BOX20 Media Company

Home Mobile The Square Jellyfish Bluetooth Remote Offers Limited Control of Your Mobile Device

The Square Jellyfish Bluetooth Remote Offers Limited Control of Your Mobile Device

The Square Jellyfish Bluetooth Remote Offers Limited Control of Your Mobile Device

Portable devices like the iPhone and iPad are equipped with Bluetooth, the wireless connectivity technology. Most users employ Bluetooth for audio functions, such as wireless phone headsets or wireless speakers, but the technology is also useful for remote controls, many of which are starting to utilize Bluetooth in addition to traditional infrared. This latter use is particularly important as mobile devices become further entrenched as the center of our digital lives.

We got a chance to check out one such remote from a company called Square Jellyfish at this year’s Macworld / iWorld in March. Once we returned from the conference, the company sent us a review unit for more real-world testing.

Square Jellyfish currently makes two Bluetooth remotes, the Four Button Remote and the Flashlight Remote. Today, we’re taking a look at the Four Button Remote, which we’ll refer to simply as “remote” for the duration of this review. The Square Jellyfish remote works with both Android and iOS devices, but we’re testing only with an iPhone 5s and iPad Air, the usage for which is identical.

Setup

Right away, it’s clear that Square Jellyfish isn’t trying to win any points for presentation. The remote comes packaged in a generic plastic shell with branding that looks like something you’d find in the check-out line at a drugstore. In a world where computer accessory companies like Twelve South try to mimic the slick designs of Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft, Square Jellyfish stands out, but not in a good way. But if it’s cheap and it works well then who cares, right?

 

Upon removing the remote from its packaging, you’ll find a small, lightweight blue device sporting four buttons. At 2.5 x 1.4 x 0.5 inches (height x width x depth), it’s a little thicker than we’d prefer, but it still fits easily into a pocket or slips onto a keychain via the built-in loop.

 

The included battery and device internals can be exposed by the removal of a single Phillips head screw on the bottom of the remote. The battery is a standard 3V CR2032 “coin” battery, which can be replaced when needed for less than $4.

 

In order to use the remote, you’ll first need to pair it to your device like any other Bluetooth gadget. Simply head to your device’s Bluetooth settings and make sure that Bluetooth is enabled. Then press and hold the play/pause button on the remote for about 5 seconds. You’ll soon see a new Bluetooth device called SJF_G15BR1 appear in your smartphone or tablet’s settings. Tap it to pair the two together.

Square Jellyfish Four Button Remote

Usage

Once paired, the Square Jellyfish remote is both useful and constrained. Supported functions include playback and pause of audio or video, next and previous track, volume increase and decrease, and shutter release for photo apps. The problem is that the remote is restricted to the relatively limited control options afforded by Bluetooth, meaning that the user must manually launch these apps using the phone or tablet, and then switch to the remote.

Scenarios where this is useful include triggering a group photo or “selfie” from a distance, raising or lowering the volume of a group FaceTime or Skype call without having to disturb the device, and quickly changing tracks on a phone or tablet that’s plugged into speakers on the other side of the room. While we all may have performed one or more of the above activities at some time during our smartphone or tablet ownership, very few of us perform such actions regularly enough to warrant the purchase of a dedicated remote.

 

On a more psychological level, the term “remote” often evokes the understanding of a certain level of control, and the abilities of this product don’t really meet that level for most consumers, thanks to the requirement that all apps must be launched manually before the remote functions, other than volume, will work.

Another constraint is the way that the Square Jellyfish utilizes Bluetooth control signals. The buttons for Next and Previous track are indeed supported and work well, but the other functions are a bit hacked together. The volume up and down buttons, for example, only work in single step intervals, meaning that you must press individually for each step of volume change instead of simply holding the button down (as holding the button triggers a track change action). Testing the feature as rapidly as possible, it takes about 5 seconds of button-mashing to go from the lowest to highest volume level, or vice versa.

Similarly, the camera shutter button takes advantage of the ability to trigger a photo in iOS by pressing one of the side volume buttons, and so therefore is really just another button for the “volume up” function (and acts that way when not in the photo app).

These issues aren’t really the fault of Square Jellyfish — they are simply the result of the limits of Bluetooth control in iOS — but they make the product less compelling.

Conclusions

Make no mistake, however. Some users will likely love the ability to shoot photos from a distance, or control their music from across the room, even if they must first open these apps by hand on their mobile device. For those users, the Square Jellyfish works relatively well, with button presses recognized nearly instantly, even at more than 20 feet away. For the rest of us, the Square Jellyfish remote may definitely come in handy on occasion, but at a street price of $30, it’s hard to justify that price for this level of functionality.

Depending on the future of Bluetooth remote support, subsequent versions of this product that can automatically launch certain apps based on the type of button pressed would be far more useful to most mobile device owners. Until then, the best feature of the Square Jellyfish is the camera shutter button, but competing devices offer this functionality for about a third of the Square Jellyfish’s cost.

But if you have a need for remote volume, playback, and camera control for your iOS or Android device, you can pick up the Square Jellyfish Four Button Remote for $29.99 at Amazon.

What the F-Stop? Apple to Cease Development on Aperture

Read Next 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Jim Tanous

Jun 25, 2014

676 Articles Published

More