Remote desktop apps have an easier time working on tablets, where you have a lot of display area to work with, but they're frequently awkward on smartphones. Wouldn't it be nice if you could control a PC at home like it was just another phone app? Parallels is tackling that challenge head-on with smartphone-friendly versions of its Access app for both Android and the iPhone. Much like the earlier iPad release, the new titles give you a remote view of your Mac or Windows PC that's optimized for your mobile platform of choice. You can launch programs, select text and type almost as if the computer's software were built for a small screen. On the Android client (which also handles tablets), Parallels will even let you create shortcuts to jump directly into favorite desktop apps.
The wider support comes alongside a bundle of fairly hefty upgrades. It's now possible to wake up your computer in some circumstances, so you won't have to always leave it running for Access to work. You can also choose from extra screen resolutions if you need to see more of your desktop at a glance, and apps can borrow your device microphone for speech recognition or a quick voice chat. Those on iOS have the added perk of a file browser that makes it easier to track down that all-important presentation.
For some, the biggest change may be the cost of entry. Parallels has cut its personal subscription price from $80 to $20 for one year, and $35 for two years ($30 if you sign up by the end of June). That's obviously a much better value, particularly if you only occasionally need to reach your PC. There's also a new business tier that lets companies hook up five people for $50 per year. All the new apps are free to try for a couple of weeks, so it won't hurt to give them a shakedown. Who knows -- they might save your bacon the next time you leave your laptop at home.