Gaining remote access to your computer sounds great in theory, but in the past we’ve found it a frustrating experience trying to click on tiny icons and controls. Parallels Access offers a unique solution by adapting everything to suit your Android device and its smaller display. There’s even an Android-style launcher screen with a grid of desktop application icons you can tap to launch. They are then run in fullscreen windows, which you can easily switch between via a bar at the bottom of the screen.
Navigation is also good. Simply tap with one finger to left-click, or two fingers to right-click. You can swipe to scroll around, while pinch-to-zoom also works in many applications. For extra precision, you can long-press to magnify the view in a circle. Continuing to long-press enables you to drag and drop files – or resize spreadsheet cells and pictures, for instance.
Double-tapping text brings up the standard Android selection markers and copy/paste tools. The on-screen keyboard appears automatically, or by tapping its icon, while extra command keys (Shift, Ctrl, cursors etc) can be added to the bottom of the screen. Other options include a desktop mode, mouse pointer (with on-screen buttons) and choice of display resolution.
It all goes to make remote access more useful and far less frustrating, although it’s a shame the Android app lacks the iOS version’s special file browser function for even easier navigation. About the only other drawback we found was slightly jerky video playback.
Setup is easy too. Just download the desktop client for your Mac (OS X 10.7 or later) or PC (Windows 7 or later) and then sign in on the Android app via Facebook (or sign up). After a free two-week trial, you need to subscribe for £13.99/$19.99 per year, but this gives access to up to five computers.