Your Windows Phone is in your pocket, but your PC is at home. You need to access something urgently on your computer – you need a remote app that extends your Windows desktop into the palm of your hand.
Remote Controlling Your Windows PC
Around 10 years ago I was using a Windows Mobile 5 device, the MDA Vario, which gave me my first taste of mobile Internet and emails in my pocket. Most crucially, it gave me access to my PC. Back then I worked in IT support. This was before cloud storage took off and having a connection to information was vital these days.
In 2005, the only way to easily remote control my PC was using LogMeIn.com’s free service, which has since been discontinued. Connection to my computer over 3G was slow, and a lack of a meaningful user interface on the mobile side meant that response time was mitigated by poor accuracy when attempting to open the Start menu or launch an application. Put simply, it was rubbish.
Fortunately, in 2014 things are a lot better. Several remote PC access apps are available for Windows Phone 8, each offering something a little different. The following apps should help you get exactly what you need when remotely using your computer.
You’ll be surprised at just how much you can do with PC Remote, one of the most popular downloads on the Windows Phone Store. Easy to set up, this free app enables you to control your PC from your phone from anywhere on your local network.
Much more than just a tool that offers a virtual mouse and keyboard experience, PC Remote features integrated remotes for media players and even a PowerPoint remote.
Services such as iTunes, Spotify, Media Player Classic, XMBC, VLC, Netflix and Hulu are all supported, while you can search YouTube and launch the video on your PC in seconds.
If you opt for the paid app, additional features such as file transfer, a custom remote tool, Internet remote and Windows 8 gestures are included.
From Microsoft itself comes this app whose name suggests a grander, perhaps paid-for app will be coming along later.
Until then, Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview is available free and features a RemoteFX remote desktop client, which Microsoft claims is designed to help you work wherever you are.
Using the RDP protocol and offering a multi-touch user interface, Network Level Authentication technology is employed to create a secure connection and compression technology results in high quality video and audio.
Although useful, the Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview does have a few problems. One notable fault is the upside down display on Nokia Lumias with the Glance feature enabled. The inability to use login credentials with a space character (such as “Christian Cawley”) is particularly surprising. Also, you’ll be unable to connect to Home editions of Windows. The amount of Windows-side configuration that is required might persuade you to choose one of the alternative solutions on this page.
The apps we’ve looked at so far will only reliably handle desktop apps and nothing that taxes the processor too much. Spashtop Personal is different.
If you’re already aware of Splashtop, then you probably know that it is now the leading name in remote desktop, spanning platforms and devices to give users the level of access they expect in an age of mobile broadband and powerful mobile processors. This is the only remote access product for Windows Phone that can deliver full audio and high definition video streaming – not to mention 3D gaming!
Splashtop Personal for Windows Phone is free and requires that you have a free account and the Splashtop Streamer installed on your Windows PC or Mac, available free from www.splashtop.com. The tool offers various additional security options, such as requiring a password and a security code along with the default username and password.
You can also connect from across the Internet (rather than your local WiFi) and use 256-bit AES encryption, if you choose to purchase the Anywhere Access Pack for $1.99 a month.
Available for up to five computers, Splashtop Personal is for non-commercial use only.
Finally, ideal for use in the workplace or giving a presentation at college, is Office Remote, a free Microsoft app that acts as a compact remote control for Microsoft PowerPoint.
Requiring a PC with a Bluetooth connection, a desktop add-in from Microsoft and Microsoft Office 2013 (not RT), Office Remote also supports Excel and Word. However, it is for PowerPoint that it is most useful, enabling easy slide switching, previewing slides and displaying notes, a laser pointer option and more.
Should your presentation require some big-screen display of an Excel spreadsheet, browsing through the document remotely is possible, as is the use of Slicers, PivotTable (knowledge of which will help you in any office), and Filters. Word users can enjoy easy remote navigation through documents.
Superb Remote Productivity With Windows Phone 8
These apps are optimised for Windows Phone 8, and given just how accomplished they are (even Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview is good, despite its shortcomings) we could see some considerable improvements across the board once Windows Phone 8.1 rolls out fully.
Have you tried any of these remote apps for Windows Phone? Did you find one is more suitable for a particular task than others? Let us know your thoughts below.
Image Credits: Ceo1O17 Via Flickr