When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, it changed the way we viewed the telephone forever. With all of its features, it seemed that the smart phone was a high tech, multimedia gadget first and a tool for communication second. But despite mobile gadgets accounting for 65% of online traffic, the PC remains an indispensible unit for work. This is why remote desktop apps were introduced for the smart phone.
A remote desktop app allows you to access your PC wherever you are. As long as the infrastructure is there to support connectivity, you would be able to manage your files, view your PC screen, use software programs and do work whether you are at the coffee shop or at your friend’s couch.
There are 2 ways to have remote control access to your PC:
- Full remote desktop app which has the capability of transmitting images and sound from your PC to your tablet or smart phone.
- Standard mouse and keyboard remote desktop app which does not transmit images but still provides sufficient control on your PC.
Here are 5 of the best remote desktop apps that you can use for your smart phone:
- Google Chrome Remote Desktop – If Google Chrome is your primary browser on your PC, then this is the best remote desktop app for you. All you need to do is install the Chrome extension on your PC and you’ll be able to access it from the corresponding app on your Android or iPhone.
This is a versatile remote desktop app. It can access anything on your PC as if you were actually using it. You can access file browsers, administrative tools and any other programs you want.
Google Chrome Remote Desktop is easy to connect even on mobile networks. By installing the extension on your PC’s Chrome browser, makes it possible for you to access it from another laptop or desktop operating system.
- Microsoft Remote Desktop – This is Microsoft’s very first remote desktop app. It will only connect with Windows machines; and still it would have to be the upgraded Professional versions or Windows or higher. However, Microsoft Remote Desktop is available on Android, iOS and of course, the Windows phone.
The good news is that Microsoft frequently updates this app. For those who prefer Android systems, you can test the beta app which comes with new and updated features.
- Virtual Network Client – Engineers and those with higher levels of IT proficiencies have long advocated the VNC protocol even before the smart phone became popular.
The original design of VNC is open source which means it can cater to a multitude of users; including desktops and smart phones. Although the large variety and diversity of types could create compatibility issues, most should work with each other just fine.
For those who will opt for the free version, TightVNC on the desktop is the popular choice. There is also the cross- platform Java version to consider. OS X has a built- in VNC- compatible remote desktop feature.
The developers of TightVNC also have an official Android remote desktop access app called Remote Ripple which is for free.
For users of iOS, Mocha VNC Lite is the free option while RealVNC, Viewer and iTeleport offer more features, support and better reliability but at a high price. For Windows Phone, TinyVNC is the preferred free option choice of users.
If you’re thinking of VNC apps, keep in mind this is more ideal for advanced users. How would you know if this app is for you? If you can’t find your PC’s IP address, it would be best to look for another remote desktop app.
- Remote Mouse – If you want a basic, no- frills remote desktop app, the Remote Mouse is for you.
What this app does is emulate your computer’s mouse and keyboard functionality. There are some drawbacks as you have to see your screen to use it. The Remote Mouse also only works on local WiFi networks.
Remote Mouse can be yours for free. It can be downloaded on both Android and iOS systems. You can also download the free program for Windows, OS X and Linus server so you can run it on your computer.
Other features such as media controls and access to function keys will necessitate an in- app purchase upgrade.
- Unified Remote – Another no- frills and basic remote desktop app like the Remote Mouse but with more built –in functions. These include:
- Wake- on LAN support
- Voice commands
- Infrared and NFC tools
- Controls for iTunes, Spotify and VLC
This is a free app that works with the free server on Windows and OS X. However, you’ll need to unlock the full version to enjoy the advanced features.
With Android, you can get this done with a separate app while with the iPhone and iPad, you can unlock the features with an in- app purchase. For the Windows Phone you can purchase or use the trial feature available at the Windows Store.
The cost of unlocking these features is $4 which isn’t much given the improved functionality of this remote desktop app.
There are other remote desktop apps to choose from in the market. But the ones presented here have consistently made it among the best reviewed lists. If you want to get remote desktop apps with the complete set of bells and whistles, you would have to spend a bit more. Ultimately, it would depend on your need to access your PC from a remote location.