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Parallels Access 3.1 review: Remote access on steroids, now for iPad Pro

J.R. Bookwalter | June 3, 2016
With support for the latest iOS hardware and the Apple Pencil, Parallels Access 3.1 continues to be the absolute best way to use desktop applications from a mobile device.

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.

parallels access ipad computers
Parallels Access 3.1 allows a single account to remotely access up to five Mac or Windows computers from an unlimited number of mobile devices.

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 iphone app launcher
The App Launcher is used for creating shortcuts to your favorite remote applications, each one available with just a tap.

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. 

parallels access iphone app switcher
Jumping between multiple remote applications is a snap with the App Switcher feature in Parallels Access.

 

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