The ability to remotely access desktop computers on mobile devices feels futuristic every time I do it, but that captivation wears off right around the time I have to pinch and zoom to see what’s on screen or attempt to get any real work done from a remote system.
Luckily, there’s Parallels Access. Parallels Access addresses these problems by allowing iOS and Android devices to not just access, but actually use Mac and Windows computers from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Rather than replicate the computer’s display like other virtual network computing (VNC) apps do, Parallels Access adapts larger screens to smartphones, tablets, or web browsers.
Making the connection
Unlike traditional VNC apps, which typically cram entire desktop screens onto mobile devices, Parallels Access intelligently adapts for smaller displays one window at a time. The agent software can be installed on up to five computers, and a single user account can access those systems from an unlimited number of iOS or Android devices for $20 per year (also included free with Parallels Desktop for Mac).
Parallels Access doesn’t just mirror your remote computer display—you’re instead presented with the App Launcher, which allows you to launch desktop apps in a way that’s similar to OS X’s Launchpad. Rather than clutter up the screen with rows of unwanted icons, you can select up to 24 favorite applications per screen from your remote system.
To launch a remote application, simply tap its icon. The desktop agent will optimize the Mac’s window to match the resolution of the device it’s being viewing from—your iOS device, presumably—and then moves desktop windows right back into place once disconnected. It’s easy to move between multiple windows or open applications from the App Switcher, but if you prefer to mirror the entire desktop screen like other VNC apps, this can be done via Settings > Desktop Mode.
Both viewing modes offer smart magnification when making a selection for precise control during text selection, drag-and-drop, or using the on-screen cursor. With the latest update, you can now move the cursor while using iOS 9’s new trackpad mode from the on-screen keyboard.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.