Parallels Access recreates Windows and Mac software as tablet apps for the iPad

Parallels Access lets iPad owners use Mac and Windows apps, with interface tweaks to make the software better on a touchscreen device.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

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.

Further reading about iPad

Editorial standards