Running remote desktop software from an Android device has a different purpose than doing the same from a traditional PC. When you're connecting from a laptop, you're probably accessing an application at home or work that only exists on that one machine. But on Android, you have the option to greatly expand what your phone or tablet can do.
Microsoft's commitment to Android keeps on impressing us with new app releases, frequent improvements to its existing portfolio, and decent overall adoption of Google's design guidelines. Case in point, Remote Desktop. This handy app that lets you remotely connect to any Windows computer has been available for a while on Android, but its design was outdated and its features were slightly limited. Well that's no more.
Remote Desktop is finally getting the updated design and multiple account support that have been in testing through the app's Beta channel for a few months now. As you can see from the screenshots, the interface is more in line with Lollipop and although the nit-picky amongst us can point out a few missteps here and there, it's still a significant improvement over the old UI (pictured at the end of the post).
Or your mom, or grandparents, or siblings or children, whatever. The point is that TeamViewer thinks that there's a market for remote support on Android TV. The QuickSupport app allows users to remotely view and control an Android device from a standard PC - it's essentially the reverse of a conventional remote desktop app. And now it works on your TV! How 'bout that.
Honestly, the Android TV interface is so stripped down and simple - think Roku meets the Play Store - that it's hard to imagine a situation where someone would buy a unit for themselves and not be able to operate it.
One of the cooler features of NVIDIA's SHIELD and SHIELD Tablet is their capability to remotely play PC games. And one of the more frustrating parts of this feature is that you must have both NIVIDIA's mobile hardware and a high-end NVIDIA graphics card on your gaming PC. A new game streaming app hopes to beat NVIDIA on both of those points. KinoConsole is a free download in the Play Store, and you can grab the server program for your desktop here.
Setting up and connecting the app isn't difficult; just set a password for your PC and run the app on the same local network, or alternately, with a Google account.
When the time comes to take control over someone's machine (with their consent, of course) you're going to want an app that can get the job done reliably. TeamViewer is one such option. With it, you can control a massive Windows, Mac, or Linux machine from an itty-bitty Android device.
Today TeamViewer has announced that version 10 is available as a public beta, and the team has updated its Android app to play along nicely with the new features.
The beta gives IT admins more control through the ability to enforce setting policies from the TeamViewer Management Console. On a different note, users can use the new Computers & Contacts API to integrate their, erm, computers and contacts with other applications.
I'm not sure there's ever been a time I found myself needing access to Internet Explorer on Android, but now I'll be prepared if that ever does come up. Microsoft's new RemoteIE preview program lets you access a remote version of IE running in the cloud on almost any device. All you need is a Microsoft account and an app.
Considering the competitive nature of the mobile market, it's actually pretty surprising that Microsoft supports Android as well as it does, at least for its own services. The company has released over 30 apps for Android, including a free and official version of Microsoft Remote Desktop, the official RDP client for Windows. Today's update brings support for KitKat's handy immersive mode, which makes a lot of sense for a remote computer viewer... but only on tablets.
Notice the transparent Android notification and navigation bars on the right.
We've tested the new version on various phones and tablets running 4.4+, and that particular feature does indeed seem to be limited to tablets for the time being.
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.
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.
For better or worse, manufacturer apps tend to be exclusive to their own phones or tablets in the Android world. Not so with Windows programs, or at least, not usually. Samsung's SideSync program, an automated backup, remote desktop, and file transfer system, was previously limited to Samsung's own ATIV line of Windows laptops and tablets. But with the update to version 3.0, the company has removed that restriction - you should now be able to use SideSync with a Samsung Android device and any Windows machine.
That's good for Samsung owners, since SideSync is actually one of the cooler add-on programs that the company makes.
Microsoft's Remote Desktop app for connecting to and controlling Windows machines is just a couple of months old, and so far it's been pretty well-received. It had two updates already - not bad for a major company developing on a competing platform - and today's 8.0.3 adds perhaps the most important new feature: NetBIOS name resolution.
"Hooray! NetBIOS name resolution! That's my favorite remote desktop feature ever!" I hear you cry. Well if you don't know what that means off the top of your head, you're in good company (including me). Basically it lets you type in the assigned name of the computer you're connecting to on the local network instead of the IP address.