Remote desktop apps: The great tablet equalizer

Even with tablets appearing all over the place, there is still an impression that they are just for consuming content. My own experience is quite the opposite, and remote desktop apps play a role.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
LMI on iPad
Accessing Mac with LogMeIn on iPad

It doesn't matter if you are discussing the iPad or other tablets, many have the impression that these devices are only good for consuming content. I have covered my tablet experiences in depth that prove (for me, at least) that I regularly create content on one tablet or another. While not required to do so, using remote desktop control apps can turn any tablet into a full-blown computer.

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I have used a couple of remote desktop apps on tablets that let me access both Macs and Windows systems remotely. LogMeIn and Splashtop are available for the iPad and Android tablets, and both yield a fully touch-optimized experience when accessing remote systems. Even 7-inch tablets can be used for remote access as demonstrated in the following video:

I prefer LogMeIn on the iPad as I find the UX to be superb whether accessing Macs or Windows PCs. The remote desktop is presented in a productive way that can be controlled by touch on the iPad. Splashtop works pretty well too and is being constantly updated, closing the gap with LogMeIn.

It is possible to do things remotely using these apps that were not available even a short time ago. Watching streaming YouTube video on the tablet can now be done nicely using either LogMeIn or Splashtop. This shows how capable remote apps now render a productive user environment on a tablet.

The Remote Desktop app for Windows 8 is one of the most popular apps in the Windows Store. According to our own Mary Jo Foley, this app can be used on Windows RT tablets to access remote Windows systems, thus allowing the use of Windows apps on RT systems that can't run them locally. This opens up a broad range of uses in an enterprise setting, including BYOD sites.

Using the app would allow "running" full Windows programs on the restricted Windows RT (including Surface RT) devices. It in effect eliminates one of the biggest restrictions of Windows RT over full Windows 8. 

Of course, according to Mary Jo there are the typical Microsoft licensing concerns for such use that must be considered. She details those concerns in an article that shows using the Remote Desktop app on Windows RT to access full Windows systems is not without risk. Having read the licensing requirements I agree with Mary Jo that "my head hurts".

Licensing issues aside, the use of remote desktop apps on tablets is a great equalizer when a full computer system is not available. The apps are a great way to turn any remote system into a full touch computer, often better (in my experience) than touch-optimized PCs.

It is worth noting that LogMeIn has remote control capability in most modern browsers. This opens up the ability to use remote control even if there is no app for your particular tablet. It also works well on my Chromebook, as demonstrated below.

Chromebook LMI
LogMeIn on Chromebook using browser access

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