iPad and remote desktop

I am trying out my iPad as a remote desktop client to my mac, my windows machine, and an appserver at UW. The net is — it works, but I would never use if for any kind of depth work.

There are a number of rdp/vnc clients for the iPad. I went with “Desktop Connect”:http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/desktop-connect/id364907570?mt=8 because it offers both rdp (to connect to windows boxes) and vnc (to connect to my Mac) (though you can of course install vnc servers on windows and rdp servers on the mac if you want to get complicated — see “wikipedia guide to remote desktop software”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_remote_desktop_software. And Desktop Connect offered both for $11.99. There are a lot more expensive solutions available, this is not an app area with a lot of cheap options.

On the Mac you have to turn on your vnc server — “a slightly outdated and wrong guide to doing so”:http://www.dssw.co.uk/blog/2007/05/14/a-vnc-server-is-included-in-mac-os-x-104/ — but it will point you in mostly the right direction. On windows you have to turn on remote access, I think this is somewhere in the computer properties page.

Anyway, all the connections worked. I’m able to remotely view my Mac, my Windows box, and the Windows box at UW I access for various pieces of engineering software. But the interplay of touch screen and mouse control is a little unnatural. Maybe there is a better way to implement it, but I found it super awkward. In this app, you either have to use the default mode in which case you have to use your finger as a mouse and drag the pointer around while keeping in constant screen contact — it is awkward. Or you tell it to act like a touch screen and the mouse pointer jumps to wherever you touch — maybe better but then some things are awkward/impossible, like the dock popping up as i drag over it on the Mac.

Net impression — in a pinch I will use this, but as a regular thing, forget it. Better off to walk upstairs to the Windows box or across the room to the Mac laptop.

5 thoughts to “iPad and remote desktop”

  1. I did the exact same thing, and I’m really loving it as a remote desktop / thin client. I’m tempted to try out a service like Log Me In so that I can access any of my machines from anywhere. I’m also surprised that Apple hasn’t released a Back To My Mac client for the iPad yet.

  2. i made the jump and bought desktop connect today. i found it easier once i set it up in touchpad mode under settings. it’s quick and i can print my stuff on my mac from the ipad. i turned up the frame refresh rate on my vnc server and got it to play the flash video nicely.

  3. Hey John, I want to let you know about a remote desktop app we just launched – Splashtop Remote. It has intuitive touch controls and also does video and sound well. Right now it only works with Windows PCs, but an update to support Mac is coming shortly. hope you find it useful!

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