This last week or so I have been looking for a way to use my PC keyboard as a bluetooth keyboard for my iPod Touch 2G. I found 1Keyboard for Mac and hidclient for Linux, but I couldn’t find anything for Windows. A few days later I saw a youtube video where someone was using VNC on their iPhone, it made me immediately regret not thinking of it myself. For those that don’t know VNC is remote control and viewing software to allow remote access to a computer or other device. You could, for example, log in to your work PC from home and do everything you would be able to in the office from your laptop in bed. A VNC client on your computer along with the Veency app from the Cydia* app store will allow you to use your computer mouse and keyboard to control your iPod, iPhone or iPad as well as view the screen on your monitor.
*You must have a jailbroken device to run Cydia.
Veency (VNC Server for iDevices)
You need to use Veency on your jail-broken iDevice as a VNC server to allow all of this to work. I am not aware of an app that does this on the iTunes app store.
- Install the latest version of Veency.The easiest way to do this is via the Cydia app. Lauch Cydia, go to the search tab and search for Veency. This will also install the Mouse package if you do not already have it installed.
You can also install Veency SBSettings Toggle if you want to be able to toggle Veency on and off from the SBSettings overlay.
- Once you have installed Veency you will find that you can’t connect until you have resprung. However, it is advised that you fully restart your iDevice instead. (see Troubleshooting below for more details).
- I suggest you set a password for the connection (Do this from the Settings app) otherwise you will have to click Accept on your iDevice every time you connect.
Getting your iDevice’s IP address
You will need the IP address of your iPhone or other iDevice to be able to connect to it. You can view it from the SBSettings overlay (see picture to the left) or by going to the Settings app (Select Wifi then click the blue arrow on the network you are connected to, your IP address will be listed here).
In general any VNC client software should suffice. Most of them are free and popular examples are RealVNC and UltraVNC.You are free to use whichever you prefer.
Note: I use Windows XP so any references to particular VNC clients further on in this article apply to Microsoft Windows (XP/Vista/7) only, I haven’t used this with Mac or Linux.
Once you have installed your preferred client you can connect to your iDevice with your IP address and password (if you set one up, see above).
I sometimes get time out errors and other problems, so try a few times if you don’t seem to be getting through. Once you establish a connection you should be able to see your iDevice in a window on your desktop. When that window has focus you can move a mouse cursor on your iDevice and use your keyboard instead of the on-screen virtual one as if it were a bluetooth keyboard synced with your iPhone.
If you are getting a blank (or black if you prefer) screen in the VNC viewer window, then you need to restart your iDevice. Not just respring the springboard, a complete restart. There are many pages and videos around that suggest you use an older build of Veency (build 0.9.3023-1) usually called Veency (FIXED). You don’t need to do this and you can continue to use the latest build if you just restart your phone. I, and many others, found that Veency (FIXED) crashes the device or puts it in safe mode whenever one tries to swipe or use an app. If you ever get this problem again (i.e no video in the client window), you again should restart your device – otherwise it will eventually crash and need to be force reset.
Is your music randomly starting to play? You’ve probably scrolled the mouse wheel. Scroll the wheel down to stop the music (see below for full control details).
Video quality is not very good in general. Don’t expect to be able to play your games or watch movies from the VNC client window. However, this doesn’t impact too heavily on your ability to control a game with the mouse/keyboard. Obviously you will struggle with an action game, or anything where you must press different parts of the screen simultaneously, but for laid back strategy games and anything where you only need to use one finger to play, you are set. Using office applications, emails or social media apps like Facebook instantly become far easier to use. I found .NET VNC Viewer to offer the best video quality and performance, but it unfortunately doesn’t support the middle mouse wheel/button.
When using a mouse with Veency you have the following abilities with the mouse:
Left Click – Tap the screen at the cursor position
Left Click and Drag – Swipe (distance is a factor)
Right Click – Home button
Middle Button (Button 3) – Lock button
Scroll wheel down- Activate/Deactivate music (Play/Pause)
On the lock screen – You can move the mouse, when your iDevice is locked, to unlock it.
You can imagine that the cursor is your finger on the touch screen, you can “tap”, “push/hold down” or “swipe” with the mouse as if you were touching the screen. I don’t know if/how any multi-touch gestures are implemented, so please bear that in mind.
I find it helpful to set the mouse speed almost to the max, otherwise it seems to take a long time to cross my iPod’s screen. This does seem to make the movement of the cursor a little more jerky though.
Customised controls/gestures – The only customisation I know of is that UltraVNC allows you to swap mouse button 2 and 3. This stops avid right-clickers from closing their apps all of the time. The only other notable feature in this area is that most viewers allow you to simulate mouse 3 by pressing mouse 1 and 2 at the same time. Very underwhelming. I would love to be able to set the scroll wheel to swipe up and down and disable the right mouse button but I haven’t found a way to do this yet.
Screen rotation – It is incredibly useful to be able to rotate the display in the VNC Viewer window, especially if you intend to use the mouse with landscape games or applications (see the image above). As far as I know, you need to use either RealVNC Viewer Plus ( a paid for program) or .NET VNC Viewer to be able to rotate the client window.
Locking the mouse to the VNC client window – You can use an application called Windows Mouse Capturer to lock the mouse to a particular window. This is incredibly useful when you are swiping left and right. If you don’t use it your mouse cursor will likely leave the window and you will lose control of your device, which is especially annoying when rearranging the icons on the dashboard.
In the end I tend to use .NET VNC as my client of choice, as it allows me to rotate the window and it provides the best performance experience of the VNC Clients I tried with my iPod Touch 2G (running iOS 4.2.1). I use RealVNC Viewer when I need to use the lock button (taking screenshots etc).
One of the things I hate the most about my iPod is the lack of response from the touch screen – being able to use a real mouse and keyboard is just what I need.
And yes, I am living the dream.