Have you ever needed to grab a file from your computer, but you're away from home? Maybe you want to play simple PC games on your phone, or use Windows-only software on your Chromebook. Whatever you want to do, remote desktop applications allow you to connect to your computer from a phone, a tablet, or another computer.
Here, we'll go over the best options for remotely connecting to a computer from an Android device, or a Chromebook with support for Android applications.
Virtual Network Computing, better known as VNC, remains one of the most popular ways around to access remote computers. VNC Viewer, the official remote access app for Android from the developers of Real VNC, gets a substantial update today. The biggest improvement is the addition of support for Bluetooth mice and trackpads. Of course you could use them with the app before, but now the Viewer app will specifically interpret them to directly control the cursor of the remote machine instead of simply emulating local touches. It should also work with other connected peripherals, whether wireless or wired.
You can't spend all day sitting at the computer, but sometimes remote access is almost as good. VNC Viewer from Real VNC is a way for you to connect to a computer through any number of VNC clients, and it's pretty popular. However, it used to be a $10 app. Put your wallet away – it's free now.
The app dropped to $0.99 early today, then to free. As we all know, when an app is made free in Google Play, it cannot be made into a paid app again. The app itself hasn't been updated, so no in-app purchases have been snuck in.
I've tried more that a few remote access apps on both Android and Windows, and TeamViewer is right up there with the best of them (especially if you work with people who can't get a handle on VLC). Today's Android app update adds some much-needed features to the mobile access app, most notably the ability to silence sound from the remote machine without turning the sound off on your Android device. Huzzah!
The other major addition is clipboard synchronization. If you've ever used the Chrome To Phone app, you know how this works: selecting, highlighting, and copying text from your computer will allow you to paste it into any text field on your Android device, and vice versa.
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.
Ok, so it's not that expensive, but $10 (5.99GBP)? Seems a little pricey for a remote viewer client (though LogMeIn will run you $30, by comparison), especially considering RealVNC's "Personal Edition" desktop software costs 30 bucks. Fear not, because there is a free version of the RealVNC software for Windows, and while it lacks a lot of the nifty features the full Personal Edition has, the Android viewer client doesn't support most of them anyway.
Yesterday, TeamViewer unleashed its beta app for Android on the world via their website and, boy, let me tell you, it is awesome with a capital "a." Of all the VNC viewers I've used on Android, this is the by far the best. Let's dive in a little bit and I'll show you why.
After you install and run the TeamViewer Android application, you'll be confronted by this screen:
So, at this point, it's fairly obvious you'll need a computer running the desktop software to go any further. In order for your Android device to play nicely with your computer, you'll need the version 6 beta of the desktop client, which you can grab here.
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.