Phones are getting more and more powerful, but a desktop PC is still a necessity for some tasks. Microsoft's Remote Desktop is an app that allows users to connect remotely to a PC, and the latest update is a major overhaul of the service that adds a bunch of features and improves the overall experience so Android users can be productive no matter where they are.
Microsoft released a remote desktop app for Android just over a year ago, but now there's a new separate beta version of the app listed in the Play Store, and it makes some big changes. Of course, this still uses the RDP protocol, so you'll need a Pre version of Windows to use it. It's pretty robust if you've got the support built-in.
Need to get at something on your desktop, but just aren't nearby? You need remote access, and many Windows PCs have that feature built right in. Microsoft's new Remote Desktop app for Android lets you hook into the included remote access system so you can use your PC from a phone or tablet. It's also completely free.
The computer you're accessing needs to be running the remote desktop host, which is not included in the basic version of Windows. For example, Windows 8 doesn't have it, but Windows 8 Pro does. If you want to go this route, that's a $99 in-place upgrade from basic to Pro.
Today's Amazon Appstore deal is quite the bargain, and its value speaks for itself. Jump Desktop isn't the only remote desktop client out there, but it has no shortage of features. The app supports both RDP and VNC protocols, so if you have either already configured on your PC, you're good to go. Jump Desktop does not require that you install additional software on your machine. Awesome? Awesome.
The app allows you to control your computer as though it were a tablet, with pinch-zoom and two finger scrolling both supported. If you plug in an external keyboard and/or mouse into your Android device, you should find that all the usual keyboard shortcuts and mouse clicks work as expected.
Most remote desktops apps on Android can get pretty pricey. So, when a $2 RDP/VNC-compatible solution comes along, we take notice. Jump Desktop, a comparatively small player in this app category, has knocked 80% off the normal price of $10. Not bad! The service is pretty fully featured, including multi-touch support, the ability to connect via WiFi or 3G, and even SSH tunnel support!
The app works for both Windows and Mac systems. Set up is relatively painless and uses your Gmail account to make the connection easy. If you'd prefer not to hand over your credentials to the most important sign in you have on Android, though, you can also set things up manually.
In the final installment of the SysAdmin Series, I’m going to cover some tools to access a remote system’s desktop using VNC (Virtual Network Computing) clients.
I’ll admit that as a sysadmin, I don’t personally have a lot of use for VNC as almost all of the systems I need to access remotely are text-only systems, and I use a simple SSH client for that work. However, I know some sysadmins who rely on VNC clients to do some work on graphical interfaces when being at a terminal isn’t possible.
With VNC, I feel it’s prudent to mention that while these VNC clients make remote desktop access possible, they’re not entirely practical given the current state of Android device screen sizes and resolution.