Apple M1 chip

I have noticed that preferred devices to act as primary controllers include latest generation iPad Pro as well as potentially latest generation ATV 4K. New Mac minis with the new M1 chip are now out and I’m curious if anyone has tested Roomie Remote yet as a primary device. I have an old 2012 Mac mini that I’m looking to replace (it is pathetically slow as expected running as a primary controller). Would the new Mac mini with M1 chip be a better primary than any other option available today? Thanks for any thoughts!

The most important factors for a Primary are provided by iOS Guided Access. These include:

• No app interruption from things like notifications/alerts.
• Automatic restart of the app if anything goes wrong.
• Block ability to exit the app.
• App gets as much processing time as needed.

These are not provided on macOS using the normal app environment. And, in general, anything outside the normal app environment is increasingly impossible to access. We could in theory create a second app on macOS outside the sandbox/AppStore to enable some of the above, but then we would not be able to access HomeKit because HK requires sandbox.

Because macOS does not have Guided Access, reliability of background processing is a gamble. To the extent you can ensure the macOS system does not sleep, is on a charger, and the Roomie app is in the foreground, then from a processing power perspective it should be a good choice. macOS notifications do not generally halt background apps. It’s far from the rock solid guarantee provided by iOS Guided Access however. There are many exceptions to the rules. For instance, if you were to set the macOS system to auto-update its operating system, it could easily just reboot overnight without warning and suddenly your primary is not running anymore. Unacceptable.

For these reasons, I continue to recommend using iOS as the Primary Controller in all cases. In general, even AppleTV is a slightly better Primary than macOS at this point. Though, clearly modern Macs blow away the AppleTV 4K which is now genuinely in the very slow category of devices with an A10.

As far as the M1 CPU and other features provided by Big Sur such as HomeKit, yes it is safe to say a native version of Roomie will be out soon with full HomeKit support on macOS for the first time.

Note that one caveat there is the update will require Big Sur because of that. In general, I like to have each year’s major release compatible one major release back, but this year macOS will be an exception because of the critical importance of HomeKit support. So please proceed to upgrade to Big Sur ASAP in preparation. Roomie 6.5 includes native M1 support and HomeKit for macOS. For some users, it may even be a good primary.

This is very helpful detail, thanks! So I currently have an iPad mini (A12) as the primary controller. However, I have noticed that if this device is used and left off of its charger, running RR in Guided Access mode drains the battery very quickly, and can lead to shut down of the device. In cases where an iOS device is not dedicated and unused for anything else, is your advice that users should use Default as Primary Controller? Separately, if iOS is used as Primary Controller and is otherwise unused, is there a significant tangible performance gain by connecting it to the network with a wired ethernet adapter over wireless?

I don’t ever advise using Default. The two ways to do this are:

  • Use only 1 controller. Set that as your Primary as well.
  • Use as many devices as needed. Set 1 as Primary and configure it as documented.

I should probably eliminate “Default”, but not clear what the alternative is. Basically you want one of the above, only, as documented.

Ethernet provides a significant reliability advantage, especially depending on your Wi-Fi network performance. I use it whenever possible.

Thank you so much! One more annoying noob question: In a house with multiple Rooms and need for multiple remotes, I just want to confirm that the recommended protocol is to set 1 controller as Primary (ie an iPad Pro in the theater) and then use additional controllers as needed. I would think that, while this is the current best scenario, if an upgraded Apple TV utilizes an a14 chip, best practice would be to use that as Primary, especially if hard wired to the network.

I can’t theorize about non-existent hardware. Right now, get an iPad Pro or the latest iPad Air, use an Ethernet adapter, leave it on charger all the time (eg. a perfect example there is a wall-mounted PoE installation), turn on Guided Access, and set it as the Primary. Replace every 4 years. Anything other than that, for this moment, may work well, but isn’t that perfect solution. If an AppleTV ever becomes the ideal, you can read about it here then.