iPod vs. iPad Control in a Control4 Home
This custom electronics pro says he has "sold his last dedicated wireless touchpanel" after completing his first Control4 iPad installation at LEED home in Rhode Island.
April 26, 2010 by Jason Knott

Just days after the release of the Apple iPad, some custom electronics pros were showing off their “iPad-controlled” homes to us. Technically, they were correct, but in some cases the jobs were not using new iPad apps themselves but re-scaled iPhone apps.

But at the Green Life/Smart Life home in Narragansett, R.I., CE pro RS Audio Video Design has the actual new Control4 iPad app running the 4,300-square-foot LEED Gold-certified home.

“This is not a re-scaled version of Control4’s iPhone app,” says Jeff Mitchell of RS Audio Video Design, who is project manager on the job. “It’s full-screen, full-resolution 1024 x 768 for the iPad. It also doesn’t look the same as the iPhone app.”

According to Chuck Hudson of Control UI, who programmed the interface for the job, the Control4 iPad interface was “designed completely from scratch” while still maintaining the well-known Control4 look. “It takes advantage of both the portrait and landscape streams but with a lot of built-in user efficiencies that allow you to take advantage of the added real estate [vs. the iPhone] to more easily navigate in between areas.”

So what exactly is different between the iPhone and the iPad interfaces?

  • In the iPhone the homeowner would have to change screens to navigate between functions, such as lighting, audio, thermostats or home theater. With the iPad, there is a “quick nav” menu in the upper right hand corner. Of course, these new menu bar allows the homeowner to initiate functions much faster because they don’t have to navigate to another screen.
  • An added “pop-up quick interface” on the iPad app that did not previously exist that allows the homeowner to initiate actions in a secondary system without having to navigate to another screen. These pop-ups allow the user to scroll to multiple options within the pop-up window. For example, while controlling audio, Mitchell brought up the lighting pop-up window and scrolled down to activate a lighting scene from among the 160 lighting loads in the home.
  • There is a “Now Playing” bar on the bottom of the interface let’s the homeowner see exactly what is playing on the audio or video while he or she uses other control functions.
  • On the backend, an automatic update function that kicks in whenever the iPad restarts after the integrator changes settings.

From Mitchell’s standpoint, those changes offer multiple advantages. Also, the latency accessing the Web was almost non-existent during the demo. “I have noticed that the WiFii connection is much more stable on the iPad,” he says. “We haven’t had any dropout signal problems with the iPad that we have had with other handheld devices.”

“It’s also easier to ‘tell where you are,’” adds Mitchell. “It will be much more difficult for the homeowner to ‘get lost’ when navigating the GUI. I think that is the biggest benefit.”

For his part, Mitchell says it is unlikely he will go back to existing clients that already have dedicated Control4 touchpads and/or iPhones asking them to integrate an iPad because it’s just not necessary. Also, the in-wall dedicated touchpanel near the entry will always be an integral part of his installations, especially for alarm arming and disarming functions.

However, in terms of selling dedicated wireless touchpanels, Mitchell says “he has sold his last one. It will always be an iPad from now on.”

Check out this video yourself and tell us what you think?

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