Parallels Access is an Apple iPad-only app which lets you control a Mac or Windows machine remotely using your iPad. Now, version two is here.
Access 2.0 brings a host of new features, including an iOS file browser, screen resolution options to match your devices and a function which enables you to connect to a "sleeping" computer.
The app costs much less - $25.98 for a year's subscription - than its predecessor, which was US$79.99 (S$99) a year for use on only one computer. The new version supports up to five computers, Mac or Windows, but all the machines must be registered to the same account.
Set-up is simple. First, download the Access 2.0 client app to your mobile device. Log into your existing Parallels account (or create a new one) in the Access client app.
Next, download and install the Access agent app on your Mac or Windows machine. After installation, turn on the Access agent app and you can remotely access your home or office computer on a secure encrypted connection from your iPad or iPhone.
When I used an iPad Air to connect to my home PC on an external Wi-Fi network, the connection was generally smooth. When I used my MacBook Air while on the same Wi-Fi network as my PC, the connection had zero lag.
Once connected, you will be directed to the App Launcher, which looks like the launchpad of OS X. It can be used to open any application installed in the computer. Use the search field to find the applications you want. You can add or remove applications in the App Launcher by using the Add and Edit buttons.
When you open an application, it will go full screen on your iPad. The side menu offers five options: App Switcher (above), App Launcher, File Browser, Settings and Keyboard.
The App Switcher lets you switch quickly to any of the running applications on the computer. The iOS-only File Browser lets you browse, rename, delete, copy or move files easily.
In Settings, you can change desktop resolution, use the microphone with desktop applications, use a mouse pointer and activate Desktop mode.
Tapping and gestures, such as pinching, work flawlessly on an iPad Air and iPhone 5s. You tap one finger to left-click and tap two fingers to right-click. The only problem for an iPhone 5s user is that it is not comfortable to view documents on the phone's small screen.
Selecting and editing text is easy, as it is similar to iOS 7's select and drag pins, with the same clipboard functions. The virtual keyboard appears automatically when you tap to type. It is like the iOS keyboard but with an additional row of keys (Option, Command, Shift and Alt).
Here is the downside. I tried playing Diablo III on an iPad Air with a remote connection to my MacBook Air on the same Wi-Fi network, but the lag was just horrendous. Stick with productivity applications.
Parallels Access is a great remote access software for frequent travellers who need to access files remotely from anywhere in the world.
Price: $25.98 (one year's subscription), $44.98 (two years' subscription)
Platforms: iOS (version tested), Android
Requirements: iOS devices running iOS 7 and most mobile devices running Android 4.0 and later
Value for money: 4/5
This article was first published on July 23, 2014.
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