Android Chrome Remote Desktop is here, iOS app is coming soon

Android Chrome Remote Desktop is here, iOS app is coming soon

Summary: Google has launched Chrome Remote Desktop for Android and says to expect one for iOS later this year.

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TOPICS: Android, Google, iOS
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Google has launched a Chrome Remote Desktop for mobile, which means Android device owners can now control their desktop machines from afar.

Google's remote desktop app joins a host of free and paid-for tools offering similar capabilities on Google Play, including Microsoft's apps that give remote access to Windows PCs from an Android or iOS device.

Google's Android app works similarly to its remote desktop Chrome software that's been available since 2011, which can be used to assist remote support scenarios or give access to files and applications. The Chrome desktop app, which is available for Windows and Mac machines but not Linux, is also required to enable remote access from the Android device.

"If you haven't used Chrome Remote Desktop in the past, you can get started by enabling your Windows or Mac machine for remote access through the Chrome Web Store app. Next, simply launch the Android app on your phone or tablet, tap on the computer's name and start using your remote machine as if you were sitting right in front of it," Google said in a blog post on Wednesday.

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Chrome Remote Desktop on Android. Image: Google

According to support documents for the desktop Chrome client, desktop sessions are encrypted with Chrome's SSL features. Chrome was one of a small handful of Google's software that wasn't affected by the recent OpenSSL HeartBleed bug.

Since a Google Account is required to use the app, Google also recommends adding a six-digit PIN to the app in the event that someone hijacks the account. It allows a remote connection with the same Google Account, so long as they're on and connected to the internet. To handle remote connections with other account owners, users can share access via unique access codes that are generated for each session.

Google hasn't released an iOS Remote Desktop app yet, but it says one will arrive "later this year". 

Microsoft launched remote desktop apps for iOS and Android last March, while a Windows Phone equivalent is expected to arrive in future. Microsoft however already has a very popular remote desktop app for its Windows RT tablet range.

Microsoft updated its iOS and Android remote desktop apps last month, including the client software for Macs.

Read more on remote desktop apps

Topics: Android, Google, iOS

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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8 comments
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  • It's quick and responsive

    But it's a bit weird that there's no "touch" option, you have to drag the mouse cursor around with your finger, then tap to mimic the left click.
    Boothy_p
  • not really

    that's how teamviewer works.
    bhahbh
  • The Microsoft Prodoct Works Well but ...

    ... this might be good for wimpy Windows versions not licensed for remote desktop (does that require Professional?).
    Schoolboy Bob
  • Works extremely well

    I have used a number of other RD's but Google's seems the best to me, and to have this on Android now is awesome. I like the fact that the server part is just a small Chrome extension and so is a lot easier to install than a lot of others, and seems to update itself. It's really very slick and tidy.

    I find the touch cursor controlling the mouse cursor is very intuitive, two fingered zoom and scroll, three f. middle click, two f. r. click. It's fast and seems to have very little lag at least on a local wifi machine. Sound does not seem to work on the client however though I don't need sound, I wish there were an option to toggle sound on/off other than client vol. ctrl. One thing I had to hunt for was how to get out of one machine and onto another - you have to keep hitting the Android BACK button. And I don't see a way to open more than one machine at the same time like you can in browser windows.

    The app downloaded in like 2 seconds and I was on a local machine in like 10s. I was already signed into my Google acct obviously on my Android tablet so saw my available machines right away, just had to enter my PIN. Very very slick.

    It is too bad however that you can't remote into your other Android or ChromeOS devices - the remote only works with Windows and MacOS servers! Though I guess one ChromeOS instance is like another, Android is a different matter.
    ArtInvent
  • I'm very impressed

    very fast, very easy to use
    theoilman
  • Not for Linux (yet?)

    The chrome remote desktop extension also exists for Chrome on Linux (Fedora) but I get no option to allow registration of the computer as remotely accessible.
    alsocurious
  • Does this thing route through Google servers?

    Does it work by having Chrome on the desktop log into a Google server that the Android remote is also directed to? If so, then I guess you can use it on a company computer that would otherwise require you to get a VPN client connection to access the Microsoft way. We've got a Cisco VPN that requires two-phase ID and only supports Windows and Mac connections.
    little noodles
    • Hmmmm

      If it goes through Google servers, then I wouldn't touch it. Privacy issues among other things.
      Gisabun