Would you like to access your home or business computer on the move directly from your iPad?
Working on the Move
Do you find yourself working on the move or working from a different location on a regular basis? This is definitely the case for me and that was one of the reasons why I went for a 17″ desktop replacement laptop– enabling me to work efficiently wherever I go. I am able to work effectively on the move, particularly when I coupled with a mobile wireless hotspot device like the MiFi from Three. I have all my applications and files available to me, and they’re all backed up to the Cloud and syncronised to my desktop computer with SpiderOak. I also use Dropbox for smaller files.
The big downside to this approach is that my laptop is a beast– and you need to be strong (or completely mad) to carry it around. It might be due to my Celtic build and Scottish ancestry but I am fairly comfortable with this, but there are times when I wish I had an alternative! This would be where I can run all the software I need (Photoshop, SublimeText and Mozilla Thunderbird for example) and access all my files on the move.
I’ve considered purchasing a slim ultrabook PC like the Samsung ATIV Book Lite which would give me more portability. If you are a Apple fan then you could buy a Mac Book Air. The big advantage with these is that they are full computers with operating systems and the capability of running full scale software such as Office, email clients, Photoshop and more.
The problem of course is that they’re expensive– the Samsung is around $730/£470 and the Macbook Air around $1,000/£850. You’re not going to get a lot of hard disk space with them either– 128Gb with the Samsung and up to 256Gb with the Macbook Air (for additional cost).
I should also mention Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 2 tablet which does allow you run full Windows 8 applications, but again it’s not cheap around the same cost as a MacBook Air.
How about an iPad?
We might be living in a world wide recession, but it still seems that everyone has an iPad. Apple have produced an amazing piece of engineering, particularly with the new iPad Air. It is lighter and more portable than before and more powerful. Even my 3rd generation iPad is amazingly portable (except when it tips over when the kids are watching Netflix on it). The selection of apps in Apple’s AppStore is amazing– most of them of very high quality.
There, I said it! I know I am stating the obvious, but I have seen so many occasions when people are trying to use their iPad as a computer. For example:
- You can’t run full desktop applications like Microsoft Word, Photoshop or coding apps.
- There isn’t a proper file system to share, open and save files from apps
- You can’t open all file types (video and audio file formats are limited)
When I went on holiday to Majorca a few years back I did just about manage to cope with my iPad (together with a bluetooth keyboard) but I was only able to do very light work on it. It was quite frustrating. The thing is, the iPad isn’t supposed to be a computer replacement and Apple don’t claim that it is. It’s a 3rd device that sits nicely between your computer and your mobile phone.
So What Now? Ah, How about Parallels Access?
What if you could turn your iPad into a computer? It sounds mad, but you can. There is great app that I have discovered that turns my iPad into a desktop PC or Mac called Parallels Access. If you have a desktop or laptop PC or Mac, you can connect to it on your iPad using the Parallels Access app.
You may have used a “remote desktop” app like the one that comes with Windows or an app like TeamViewer. This allows you to take control of a computer and view the screen remotely– something I have found very useful. However, Parallels Access goes further than this. It is different in that Parallels Access allows you to run software from your desktop or laptop on your iPad– almost as if they were native iPad apps. It really is a fantastic experience and it almost fools you in thinking that your iPad is a full computer.
It doesn’t matter if you run a laptop or desktop computer with Windows or a Mac running Mac OSX– you can run these apps right from your iPad. You can toggle between apps and use hand gestures to control them right from your iPad. You can also view the desktop from your tablet as if you were setting in front of your home computer.
Have a look at these screenshots to get an idea:
Touchify your Apps!
Since desktop software usually isn’t optimised for touch, it’s often quite clunky to use by hand. However Parallels Access manages to turn your touch gestures into the right signals for the application you’re running. For example selecting, copying and pasting, scrolling and zooming. You can even copy from the app running on your home computer to an iPad app– for example copying to your calendar or notes app. I think this is where Parallels Access excels over similar apps
It’s not going to be quite the same as running the software on a laptop, but if you are on the move and need portability and flexibility then this is a must. We’re hoping to go on holiday abroad next year but I don’t want to have to bring my laptop. Being able to access my full Windows applications running on my home PC on our iPad will be really useful.
It opens up so many possibilities. For example, you could…
- Access files remotely on your home computer
- Manipulate an image using Photoshop
- Edit code using your favourite desktop code editor
- Use your desktop email client (if you’re not a webmail kinda person)
- Use proper Microsoft Outlook programmes like Word, Excel and Powerpoint
- Access full apps in the classroom at a school or on the shop floot
- Make desktop apps more accessible to people with certain disabilities using touch and voice
It Ain’t Cheap, but Will help you to be Super Productive
If you read some reviews of Parallels Access they make a big deal of the price. With an annual subscription of just short of $80 or £55 per year you can understand. We’re so used to apps costing $1 or $2 or even free. The annual subscription for Parallels Access isn’t cheap– but I’m not so sure $6.67 per month is a huge price to pay for a big increase in your productivity on the move. Compare that with the Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription of $49.99 per month and I think you have a bargain! However if you’d like to have it for free, read on…
Free One-Year Subscriptions to Parallels Access Giveaway! (FIVE AVAILABLE)
I am really pleased to be able to offer readers of my blog the chance to win a free one-year subscription to Parallels Access.
At this stage I wanted to say that my views in this article are totally my own (as always) and I wrote it because I was impressed by Parallels Access and felt that my readers would like it too. I haven’t been paid to write it.
The caveats out of the way, you’ll be wondering how you can win?
Participants can enter by retweeting at least one of the following giveaway tweets below. Five winners chosen at random will win a free one-year subscription to Parallels Access. The duration of the contest is 1 week (up until 11:59pm on November 20, 2013. I will notify the winners by tweet– keep an eye out for a mention!
— Ian Anderson Gray (@iagdotme) November 13, 2013
— Ian Anderson Gray (@iagdotme) November 13, 2013
What do you think?
So, what do you think? Are you impressed? Would you use it? Are you underwhelmed? Do you think it is too pricey? As always, let me know in the comments below!