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First look: LogMeIn Ignition on iPad

When it comes to remote control apps for Apple devices, LogMeIn seems to be taking the lead. Their namesake application, LogMeIn for Mac, has been available for quite some time in free and paid versions, and the company came out with an iPhone app -- LogMeIn Ignition (US$29.99)-- last year.

The company has also announced development of a Hamachi app for the Mac platform. Just before the iPad dropped on Saturday, TUAW received word that the LogMeIn app had been updated to take advantage of the new platform. Current users of LogMeIn Ignition just need to update the app and download it to their iPads for it to work as a native iPad app.

LogMeIn Ignition provides a simple way to control one or more remote Macs from an iPad or iPhone. You simply install the LogMeIn software on any Mac or PC you wish to control, and then log into it from LogMeIn Ignition on the mobile device.

How does it work? Pretty good. In fact, this entire post was written on an iPad that was controlling the iMac in my office. Controlling the Mac screen is simple. Your finger controls the location of the Mac cursor on the Mac screen. A single tap is a click, a double-tap is a double-click, etc... An unobtrusive tool bar at the top or bottom of the screen provides access to the keyboard and Control, Alt, and Command keys.
Using the standard pinch and reverse-pinch gestures to zoom in on a part of the Mac screen, it's possible to do detailed work. When I was writing this post and viewing the entire Mac screen, it was hard to read the text I was typing. Zooming in gave me a screen that was just wide enough so that I could clearly see the text that was being typed. As with most iPad apps, a quick turn moves the screen from portrait to landscape view, although for typing I preferred the wider keyboard of the landscape view.

The virtual keyboard in LogMeIn Ignition is my only complaint. Pressing the shift key locks the keyboard in caps mode, which is counterintuitive to the usual method of having the keyboard return to lower-case immediately. In addition, accented characters didn't work, although they're visible on the keyboard when you tap and hold a key. LogMeIn Ignition does have some nice details, like having the screen move up "out of the way" when you enable the keyboard, that more than make up for these issues.

There are several other VNC apps for iPad that are available. iTeleport (née Jaadu VNC) is my current app of choice on the iPhone, and I look forward to being able to give it a try on the iPad. Unfortunately, it appears that the iTeleport folks decided to charge existing customers US$24.99 for the iPad version even if they own the iPhone edition. If you choose to use iTeleport on both iPad and iPhone, you can look forward to paying $50 for the privilege. Update: iTeleport has announced that as soon as a proper upgrade path can be set up in the App Store, the iPad version will be available at no cost to existing users.

LogMeIn provides two distinct advantages over most VNC clients -- it's well-supported and it is a cinch to set up. As you can tell, this app obviously did its job well, as I was able to write the complete post in a LogMeIn session on my iMac. It's stable and works upon the framework of a system that has obviously undergone a lot of testing. Whether you're an individual who just needs to control one other Mac or PC remotely, or if you need to support an enterprise full of personal computers of any flavor, LogMeIn Ignition is worthy of your consideration. A small gallery of screenshots follows.

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