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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.

Manage files 

Parallels Access also includes a full-fledged File Manager, which allows you to browse, copy, move, or delete files on remote computers. This comes in particularly handy for moving files created on an iOS device to a connected Mac or Windows PC, or vice versa.

File Manager also taps directly into cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, which can be used to copy or move files between local device storage and remote volumes. While connected to one computer, you can also access files from others on the same account, rather than disconnecting and reconnecting. 

parallels access ipad file manager
The Parallels Access File Manager can be used to view, copy, move, or delete files between remote systems and cloud services.

The exhaustive feature list doesn’t end there—while connected, Access can take advantage of the iOS microphone, and play audio from remote computers. If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet handy, you can connect from a modern web browser instead, although this method is not nearly as fluid as the mobile app. 

After picking up the 12.9-inch iPad Pro when it launched last November, I couldn’t wait to use it with Parallels Access. There was just one problem: While the existing app worked just fine, the developers hadn’t yet updated it for the more expansive display. Five months later, that support is finally here, and it was well worth the wait.

Pro resolution at last 

Parallels Access 3.1 isn’t a revolutionary update, but adds a number of convenient improvements. In addition to screen resolution and virtual keyboard support for small and large iPad Pro models, iPhone 6s owners can now use 3D Touch for drag-and-drop or to access contextual menus; Quick Action shortcuts from the home screen are absent, however. 

The update also introduces Apple Pencil support, which is an ideal companion for Parallels Access. Instead of relying on smart magnification to maneuver tiny on-screen buttons, you can now tap with exceptional accuracy. Other nice touches are the ability to consolidate icons into folders on the App Launcher (although they don’t yet sync between devices), and support for Windows 10 tablet mode, which turns the iPad into a faux Microsoft Surface.

parallels access ipad folders
Like iOS and OS X, App Launcher icons can be organized into folders, but selections on one device don’t sync to others.

The biggest 3.1 news is Desktop Resolution control. You can now select from three display options on the fly—Best for iPad, More Space, or Same as Computer—for more comfortable viewing. This feature works great with Apple Mail, Microsoft Excel, or just about any application that could benefit from a little more breathing room. 


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