Leave your worries behind: These 5 mobile apps for smartphones and tablets let you access apps and files on your desktop PC.

Jim Rapoza, Contributor

November 4, 2011

5 Min Read

10 Epic Android Apps

10 Epic Android Apps

10 Epic Android Apps (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

One of the main benefits of the modern world of mobile computing and the cloud is how it is designed to free users from their traditional desktop computers. However, sometimes there are specific applications that a person needs that are only available on his or her desktop, and there are certain files that many users would rather not put on cloud-based services.

So, how can a user enjoy the freedom of mobile devices while still being able to access the applications and files that are on a desktop system? The answer is through the use of remote control applications.

Remote control applications have long been a popular option for connecting laptops and home PCs to remote systems, but typically these have been, for example, accessing a Windows system from another Windows system. But with the rise in power and capabilities of smartphones and mobile operating systems, it is now possible to remotely access and control desktop systems from a smartphone or tablet. These apps range in capability from full-fledged remote control tools to apps designed to consume video and music to programs that turn a smartphone into something akin to a television remote control.

For this look at remote control mobile apps, we've focused on fully capable applications that can satisfy the needs of business users and that work on multiple mobile and desktop operating systems. With these apps, users can enjoy the freedom of mobility while still being able to access applications and files on their traditional desktop systems (just make sure to remember to leave those systems on when you are out and about).

LogMeIn Ignition

The LogMeIn application has long been a popular choice for remote access to desktop computers, in part driven by the company's free basic offering. With the mobile LogMeIn Ignition app, users of both the free and Pro versions of LogMeIn can remotely access and control their Mac or Windows PCs from iOS and Android devices. The app provides full mouse and keyboard control of the remote desktop and, for users of LogMeIn Pro, it has the ability to directly stream audio files. The $29.99 app can be found in the Apple AppStore and Android Market or here.

Jump Desktop

Jump Desktop is a cost effective and powerful option for remotely controlling systems from Android devices, iPhones, and iPads. Along with the option to use the product's own program to install on desktop systems to enable remote control, Jump Desktop can also take advantage of systems using Microsoft's built-in RDP protocol or the popular VNC remote control server. This means that the desktop side of the equation is usually free and on the app side, Jump Desktop is $14.99 on iOS systems and, with the current offer, only 99 cents for Android users. More information on Jump Desktop is available here.

Splashtop Remote Desktop

While remote control of a desktop is one of the core functionalities of these applications, many users also want to be able to access rich media from their mobile devices. One of the core elements of Splashtop Remote Desktop is its ability to directly access content from iTunes and Windows Media libraries and to also access online Flash content and some desktop games. Of course, Splashtop also has the traditional remote control capabilities for users looking to access their desktop business applications. The desktop streamer application is free to use and works on Mac and Windows systems. Along with apps for iOS and Android systems, Splashtop is also available for the WebOS based HP Touchpad. The Splashtop Remote Desktop app is 99 cents for iPhones, $2.99 for iPads, $4.99 for Android devices, and $9.99 for Touchpads. More information is available here.


The open VNC protocol has long been one of the most popular methods for remotely accessing systems. VNC is available on pretty much every system, from Linux to Macs to Windows to Unix, and free versions of the server are easy to find. However, while some of the other apps mentioned make finding and linking to a remote system very simple, doing so in VNC can take a little more effort, requiring the IP address of the remote system and sometimes special security configurations in firewalls or home routers. Still, the ubiquity of VNC makes this an attractive choice for full remote control of a system. On the mobile app side, a free VNC viewer is available for Android and RealVNC offers mobile apps for both Android and iOS priced at $9.99.

Wyse PocketCloud

As one might expect from Wyse, their PocketCloud app is specifically designed to meet the needs of business users. The product provides good options for securing connections to remote systems and works well for remotely using business and enterprise applications. Also, the product does a good job at remotely accessing virtual desktop environments. Along with the free Mac and Windows Companion app, PocketCloud can also connect to VNC and Windows RDP enabled systems. The mobile PocketCloud app is priced at $14.99 and runs on both Android and iOS devices.

About the Author(s)

Jim Rapoza


Jim Rapoza is Senior Research Analyst at the Aberdeen Group and Editorial Director for Tech Pro Essentials. For over 20 years he has been using, testing, and writing about the newest technologies in software, enterprise hardware, and the Internet. He previously served as the director of an award-winning technology testing lab based in Massachusetts and California. Rapoza is also the winner of five awards of excellence in technology journalism, and co-chaired a summit on technology industry security practices. He is a frequent speaker at technology conferences and expositions and has been regularly interviewed as a technology expert by national and local media outlets including CNN, ABC, NPR, and the Associated Press.

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