Parallels Access: iPad’s Touch-Native Remote Desktop Experience

While many solutions for tablet-friendly remote desktop applications still mimic a conventional desktop interface, they often fall short in usability on touch-centric devices. The newly released Parallels Access client for iPad aims to enhance this experience. Instead of replicating a full desktop, it introduces an optimized app launcher that integrates more naturally with iOS. Features like text selection, gestures, and multitasking are designed to function seamlessly with the iPad’s interface. This intuitive design raises the question: does the convenience justify the annual $80 subscription fee? Dive into our detailed review below.

The integration of Parallels Access with iOS is impressively smooth compared to other mobile remote desktop services. The familiar iOS input methods are well adapted, allowing users to comfortably edit documents in Microsoft Office or browse with Chrome shortly after starting. While Parallels introduces some unique controls, these are merely extensions of existing iOS functionalities, such as a new keyboard row, a tray-like app switcher, and a magnifying glass feature for precise cursor placement. Text copied within Parallels Access can be used across other iOS applications, enhancing productivity.

The connection is responsive enough to support video streaming over a robust internet connection, though it struggles with latency-sensitive applications like action games or Photoshop.

Parallels Access might not cater to all users, particularly those needing a traditional multi-window desktop environment. The app launcher does not automatically display all the software installed on the computer; it prioritizes a selection of favorite apps and those currently active, requiring manual customization for others. By default, the desktop view is hidden, though users can enable it to access features like the OS X menu bar or the Windows system tray. Despite these limitations, the streamlined functionality may well justify the subscription cost for users seeking efficiency over flexibility. It’s particularly useful for quick edits to work documents or streaming a forgotten movie from a home PC.

However, potential users should note the current limitations in compatibility. For now, Parallels Access fully supports only Macs with OS X Lion or newer. Windows 7 and 8 are currently supported through a public beta, and there is no support for Android devices, though future expansions are planned. Those meeting the current requirements can download the software for free from the source link.

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Parallels® Access™ for iPad® “Applifies” Mac and Windows Applications, Letting Customers Experience Them as if They Were Made for iPad

Parallels Access enables 150+ million iPad users to realize the mobile experience as it was meant to be

Renton, WA, USA – August 27, 2013 – Parallels today introduced Parallels Access for iPad, a breakthrough product that “applifies” Windows and Mac applications, letting customers remotely access and experience them as if they were made for iPad.

Now people can enjoy native iPad gestures even in applications not optimized for iPad. With Parallels Access, just tap right to what you need to get done, in any Windows or Mac application.

With more and more people using iPads on-the-go, Parallels Access empowers them to get more done easily, work or play – even with low-bandwidth connections. Developed by the makers of Parallels Desktop® for Mac, Parallels Access is now available for the iPad with full support for Macs, and Windows support is available as a free beta. Support of devices in addition to the iPad is in development.

“We are now in an always-on age where people are increasingly demanding access to their applications and data regardless of physical location,” said Birger Steen, CEO of Parallels. “With Parallels Access, you can tap, swipe and pinch your way around Mac and Windows applications to ultimately be more productive at work, and lead a more connected life.”

A recently released report by analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates(1) that looked at enterprise adoption of PC and mobile devices found that the majority of business users are supplementing their desktop computers with at least one mobile device. With Parallels Access, anyone can increase productivity by enjoying a seamless and integrated experience and accessing computers and desktop applications from anywhere. Additionally, customers are able to access not just their professional business applications but also their games and entertainment – including streaming video – from their Mac or PC directly on their iPad.

“With the rapid adoption of iPad devices both by business users and consumers, the market potential for Parallels Access is huge,” said Laura DiDio, Principal, Information Technology Intelligence Consulting. “The app is unique in that it customizes and optimizes – or ‘applifies,’ a term Parallels coined – all of your desktop applications by enabling native tap and swipe-type gestures that will be an innovative intuitive experience for iPad users.

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Edward is a dedicated writer for TUAW, your go-to source for all things Apple. With a keen eye for detail and a love for technology, Edward brings insightful reviews and updates on the latest Apple products, from the iPhone and iPad to the MacBook and Apple Watch. His articles are both informative and engaging, making complex tech topics easy to understand. When he’s not writing, Edward enjoys exploring new apps and features on his Apple devices, always staying ahead of the curve.