periodic posts and projects

Managing Pi-hole from your Apple Watch

May 11, 2020

Let’s get the ‘What is a Pi-hole?’ question out of the way first.

Pi-hole is a Linux network-level advertisement and Internet tracker blocking application which acts as a DNS sinkhole (and optionally a DHCP server), intended for use on a private network. It is designed for use on embedded devices with network capability, such as the Raspberry Pi, but it can be used on other machines running Linux and cloud implementations - Wikipedia

This last weekend I released Pi-Man, an iPhone and Apple Watch App for managing your Pi-hole.

Initially a proof of concept on watchOS to satisfy my own needs but after speculatively sharing a video of it on Reddit, it became clear that there was enough interest within the Pi-hole community to warrant turning it in to a fully working application.

Why do I need an App for my Pi-hole?

I’ll give you a very specific scenario of mine that led to the idea in the first place.

If I want to catch up on a particular program on one of the UK’s popular on demand TV services, the program simply will not load while the Pi-hole that runs in my home network is actively blocking those nasty adverts and analytics1 and although blocking those ads are exactly why I have a Pi-hole in the first place, sometimes you just have to give in, which means temporarily disabling the Pi-hole just long enough to let those ads and analytics through your network and for the TV program to start playing.

And, rather than having to open a web page, log in to my Pi-hole and then temporarily disabling it, with an Apple Watch App I’m able to do it from my wrist with far less friction and a little more time saved - achieving all that I want and need.

Due to the interest on Reddit, I spent a few days creating an iPhone App and adding the companion watch App to go with it, testing with a bunch of Redditors and releasing v1.0 for iPhone and Apple Watch this last weekend.2 In total, 10 days from proof of concept to release.

Future Plans

Pi-hole is free, so Apps like mine should follow that same ethos.

I released Pi-man at no cost and as my contribution towards this great open source project but I don’t plan to support this App forever, at least not on my own. My current thinking is to make it open source, something I plan to do later this year if there’s still enough interest in the project.

If you’d like to help out, I’d love to hear from you.

  1. You’ll be amazed - perhaps horrified, if you knew just how much of what you do is being tracked - even down to the TV shows you watch. ↩︎

  2. Apple’s review time from submission to approval was 4 hours - I’ve never known it be so quick, especially for a brand new App. ↩︎