There's really no easy way to remotely access a full desktop machine from a smartphone or tablet, but bless their hearts, the people at Parallels are trying. Their latest product, Parallels Access, attempts to translate remote access into an interface that's more familiar. It crams the basic functions of remote access into a more manageable form, attempting to make the applications on your computer act like Android apps on your phone or tablet. Results are... mixed.

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The most impressive thing about Parallels Access is probably the "app" launcher, which allows users to place quick links to their desktop applications on a homescreen-style page and launch them with a single tap. Basic navigation is handled in a way that imitates Android and iOS, allowing you to select text with double and triple-taps, zoom in and out with gestures, and switch between desktop apps using a Recents-style virtual button. The app runs in fullscreen, intelligently using Immersive Mode on my KitKat tablet. You can sign into your desktop from any network using a Parallels or Facebook login.

Warning: cringe-inducing video follows. This was the least cheesy of the four promo videos that Parallels sent to us.

I'd tell you how well it works, but for me, it doesn't: Parallels Access failed to bring up any apps on my Windows 8 desktop on its own, forcing me to use a mouse and keyboard to even verify that the connection was working. I could see a list of applications and even try to switch through them, but the blank Parallels background just kept staring at me. That means I probably won't be shelling out the $19.99 a year necessary to continue service once the two-week trial is over.

Parallels Access is a free download for Android 4.0.3 or higher, and it works with Windows or OS X desktops and laptops. Allegedly.

RENTON, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Parallels® today introduced a major update to its Parallels Access app (www.parallels.com/access) for remote access to PCs and Macs. Originally available only on iPad, this release adds support for Android phones and tablets and for the iPhone; it also delivers new features for even better remote experience, and introduces Parallels Access for Business (www.parallels.com/access-business) which lets companies centrally assign, manage, and secure remote access to their computers.

Since the introduction in August 2013, road warriors from highway patrol officers to real estate agents, insurance agents and sales professionals have become more productive with Parallels Access while on the move. It enables them to leave their laptops back in the office and travel light with iPads. For others, from soccer moms to business owners, Parallels Access provides insurance for those inevitable, unanticipated events life throws at them: getting a file that is needed now but is sitting on the computer at home, or completing an urgent project while on the move with only a mobile device.

“Parallels Access received a tremendously positive reception from iPad users, and now we are extending our solution to millions of Android and iPhone users. While traditional remote desktop products are trying to show a large desktop on a small mobile device, we worked hard to make remote access from mobile devices a truly simple and effective experience,” said Jack Zubarev, president of Parallels. “With this in mind, Parallels Access enables people to interact with full-featured Mac and PC apps with touch gestures just like the apps were made for their iPhone, iPad or Android device.”

In addition to new platforms, new features include:

  • Facebook login integration lets users log in quickly and easily.
  • Ability to launch desktop applications with a single tap right from the home screen of an Android device.
  • A new file browser lets iOS users quickly browse and open files on their remote computer using Parallels Access.
  • Desktop applications that use a microphone can now be used with the microphone on your iPad or iPhone.
  • Ability to change screen resolution for best fit for different types of devices.

Parallels Access for Business Subscriptions Now Available

Parallels Access for Business subscriptions enable IT admins to centrally manage Parallels Access for their employees, including granting or restricting access and reassigning accounts as needed. Business Account subscriptions start at $49.99 per year for five computers. As a limited-time special offer, Parallels Access for Business is available for free for unlimited users and computers until July 31, 2014. Details are available online atwww.parallels.com/access-business.

Join the Parallels Access Online Community

To stay up to date on Parallels Access, check out our Applify blog, plus connect with the team and community directly on Facebook(www.facebook.com/ParallelsAccess) and Twitter @ParallelsAccess (www.twitter.com/parallelsaccess).

Availability, Pricing and Hardware Requirements

Parallels Access is available in the Apple iTunes App Store and on Google Play with a two-week free trial. Individual subscriptions are available for $19.99 for one year or $34.99 for two years, and include the ability to access up to five remote computers from an unlimited number of iOS and Android tablets and phones. As a limited-time special offer, new customers who purchase Parallels Access until June 30, 2014 can get a two-year subscription for $29.99.

Parallels Access for Business subscriptions start at $49.99 per-year and details are available online at www.parallels.com/access-business. As a limited-time offer until July 31, 2014, Parallels Access for Business will be available for free for an unlimited number of employees, computers and devices.