Parallels has released an app that allows Windows and Mac OS X software to be used on the iPad.
Parallels Access customises the way apps are launched and how they respond to make them better suited to a touchscreen device.
Mac and Windows apps are run through a launcher, which presents each one as a large touchscreen icon. The launcher is automatically populated but apps can be added or removed.
Apps launch in full screen, with Access adding support for touchscreen taps and swipes, and a magnifying glass. When a user fails to tap squarely on a screen button, the app makes a best guess at the most likely intended action, making it easier to use touch with tiny buttons and other UI features designed for a mouse pointer.
Users can switch between running apps by tapping to bring up a quick bar.
Words and graphics can also be copied from within apps and pasted to other iPad apps or between Mac and Windows apps, using iPad-native select and drag copying.
Access works by streaming applications from a Mac or Windows PC over a network to the iPad. The machine can't be used while the connection is active. Parallels Access can operate on both 3G and wi-fi networks but Parallels recommends using a broadband wi-fi network for a more stable connection.
Early reviews of Access report the software's smart-tap feature works well but that resizing the apps for the iPad's screen can result in a slightly grainy look and that small toolbars and drop-down menus are still fiddly on the tablet. Responsiveness seems to be affected by the quality of connection but is relatively good when connected via wi-fi or LTE but more laggy on slower connections.
Access is available for an annual subscription of £54.99 in the UK and $79.99 in the US for each computer being accessed. The Mac agent is available now and the PC agent is in a beta period, during which it is free.
Parallels Access app can be installed on a second-, third- or fourth-generation iPad or an iPad Mini running iOS 6. On the desktop side, Access can be used with OS X 10.7 Lion, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, with experimental support for OS X 10.9 Mavericks, and with Windows 7 and 8, with experimental support for Windows XP and 8.1.