Many attempts at tablet-friendly remote desktop still present a traditional desktop to the user; they deliver a lot of control, but they're unwieldy on touch-only devices. Parallels' just-unveiled Access client for the iPad could provide a simpler, more consistent experience. Rather than recreate the full desktop of a host Mac or Windows PC, Parallels Access provides a streamlined app launcher with controls that are largely iOS-native. Text selection, gestures and even multitasking behave much like they normally would on Apple's tablets. The approach sounds intuitive, but is it worth Parallels' $80 yearly subscription fee? Read our hands-on after the break to find out.
Parallels Access hands-on
The client is seamless compared to the mobile remote desktops that we've used before. The iOS input mechanics made us feel right at home, and it wasn't long before we were editing in Microsoft Office or browsing the web in Chrome. Parallels does add some non-standard controls, but these are extensions of iOS concepts: there's a new keyboard row, a tray-like app switcher and a magnifying glass mode that brings up a mouse pointer. Any text copied in Parallels Access is usable by iOS apps, too. The remote link is responsive enough that video playback works on a fast cable connection, although there's too much lag for action games and drawing-focused apps like Photoshop.
This heavily optimized take on remote access won't be for everyone. Parallels Access supports multiple windows per desktop app, but they don't run side-by-side. The launcher doesn't automatically reflect a computer's software library, either, as it only lists a handful of favorite titles in addition to whatever is already running; the others are present, but you'll have to customize the list. By default, you also don't see the desktop; you have to enable it if you want access to the OS X menu bar or Windows system tray. Still, we'd say that the simplicity ultimately justifies the asking price -- what you lose in flexibility, you gain in speed. We wouldn't mind using Parallels Access to quickly fix documents on a work PC, or to stream a movie that we forgot at home.
Just be aware of the limited compatibility at this stage. For now, Parallels Access only offers full support for connecting to Macs running OS X Lion or later; support for Windows 7 and 8 is available through a public beta. There's also no Android client, although the company does promise equivalent tools for other devices in the future. If you meet all of Parallels' current requirements, you can grab the new software for free at the source link.
Parallels® Access™ for iPad® "Applifies" Mac and Windows Applications, Letting Customers Experience Them as if They Were Made for iPad
Parallels Access enables 150+ million iPad users to realize the mobile experience as it was meant to be
Renton, WA, USA – August 27, 2013 – Parallels today introduced Parallels Access for iPad, a
breakthrough product that "applifies" Windows and Mac applications, letting customers remotely access and experience them as if they were made for iPad. Now people can enjoy native iPad gestures even in applications not optimized for iPad. With Parallels Access, just tap right to what you need to get done, in any Windows or Mac application.
With more and more people using iPads on-the-go, Parallels Access empowers them to get more
done easily, work or play – even with low-bandwidth connections. Developed by the makers of
Parallels Desktop® for Mac, Parallels Access is now available for the iPad with full support for Macs, and Windows support is available as a free beta. Support of devices in addition to the iPad is in development.
"We are now in an always-on age where people are increasingly demanding access to their
applications and data regardless of physical location," said Birger Steen, CEO of Parallels. "With Parallels Access, you can tap, swipe and pinch your way around Mac and Windows applications to ultimately be more productive at work, and lead a more connected life."
A recently released report by analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates(1) that looked at
enterprise adoption of PC and mobile devices found that the majority of business users are
supplementing their desktop computers with at least one mobile device. With Parallels Access,
anyone can increase productivity by enjoying a seamless and integrated experience and accessing
computers and desktop applications from anywhere. Additionally, customers are able to access not just their professional business applications but also their games and entertainment – including streaming video – from their Mac or PC directly on their iPad.
"With the rapid adoption of iPad devices both by business users and consumers, the market
potential for Parallels Access is huge," said Laura DiDio, Principal, Information Technology
Intelligence Consulting. "The app is unique in that it customizes and optimizes – or 'applifies,' a term Parallels coined – all of your desktop applications by enabling native tap and swipe-type gestures that will be an innovative intuitive experience for iPad users. It's going to disrupt the market, not the user."
Key features and capabilities of Parallels Access include:
* App Launcher: Start any desktop application, Windows or Mac, as if it were made for an
* App Switcher: Switch between desktop applications with ease, literally going from app-to-app
in a tap
* iPad native select and drag: Select words and graphics with one finger, on Mac or Windows
applications, then drag, drop and go
* iPad native copy and paste: Select and copy from your desktop and paste it anywhere –
between iPad apps, or even from desktop to desktop
* SmartTap and magnifying glass: Tap with precision inside your desktop applications, so you
never miss a thing
* iPad native scroll for desktop applications: It's scrolling that just works
* Desktop keyboard on iPad: Shows up just when you need it, contains Windows and
Command keys too
* Full screen for desktop applications: Maximize your screen real estate on the iPad, use
every inch of your Retina® display
* Unmatched access: Even with low bandwidth, Parallels Access makes it work
Availability, Pricing and Hardware Requirements
Parallels Access for iPad is initially available for purchase on the App Store(SM) as an annual
subscription at $79.99 for each computer being accessed. Each Mac or PC being accessed needs
its own subscription. The Mac Agent is available immediately, and the PC Agent is currently in beta and is available at no charge during the beta period. Parallels Access hardware requirements include an iPad 2, iPad 3 or iPad mini and a Mac running OS X (Mountain Lion 10.8, Lion 10.7 or the upcoming Mavericks 10.9 after it launches) or a PC running Windows 7 or Windows 8. If a Mac user also runs Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac, then Parallels Access will also "applifiy" all of its Windows virtual machines and apps so they work like they were made for iPad.