Your Phone as a Proxy for Presence

One of my pet feature requests is the ability to use my Bluetooth enabled phone to indicate presence. The idea is simple. Rather than having to manually click on "available" or "checkback later" in iChat, I want it to select automatically based on whether or not my Buetooth-enabled T68i phone is near-by. Since I always have it with me, its a convenient proxy for my presence. Someone has recently solved this problem, or at least the hard part.

Today, Will Cox points me to Sony Ericsson Clicker a handy program that let's you use a Bluetooth phone to control a powerpoint slideshow, iTunes, or any applescriptable application. Being relatively new to the Mac, I'm not that familiar with AppleScript, but presuming that iChat has AppleScript hooks, my dream could become a reality.

I downloaded the preview release of the software (which is going to stop working on Mar 1, 2003 according to the web site) and installed it on my PowerBook. The instructions are clear and work great. One note: you may not have a PreferencePanes folder in your personal library (~/Library/PreferencePanes); just create it. I fired it up and in minutes was controlling a PowerPoint presentation. This is way cooler than the KeySpan device I currently use to control PowerPoint remotely for one simple reason: Convergence!

The next little experiment was really too cool. Clicker can take action based on presence, so I set it up to pause iTunes when I leave the room and start playing when I return. Worked like a charm. My computer now senses my presence and takes the action I've selected. This is totally the right thing. Apple needs to make this part of OSX.

Now for the bad news. iChat is apparently not scriptable. I was able to activate it from AppleScript, but not set my status. This program can set the status using an internal, undocumented API. Ugh. I installed it and now the title of whatever's playing in iTune is displayed as my "status" in iChat. So, with both programs, you get presence in iChat from a T68i phone: if my status is "Quiet in iTunes" then my phone is not near my computer. :-)

Come on Apple! Let's get AppleScript support in iChat! There's coolness there.