TeamViewer for iPad and Mac Makes Remote Desktop Easy
- 2011.05.12 - Tip Jar
When it comes to remote desktop (RD) apps, there are a lot of choices - most of them either expensive or complicated to use. Personally, I've tried at least a dozen, but only one works the way I want it to, TeamViewer.
TeamViewer, developed by TeamViewer GmbH, is a powerful cross-platform remote desktop app, available for Windows, Mac OS X , Linux, iOS , and Android. Its major claim to fame is ease of setup - simply install the software, then connect one device to another using the onscreen ID number and password. This basic functionality can be modified in the app's preferences to give a faster and/or more secure connection.
Utilizing an Internet server to manage connections, TeamViewer makes RD connections a snap. No matter if your computer is a headless server a few feet away or a client's workstation in India, TeamViewer can establish a connection in seconds with no configuration needed. System requirements are quite low (the PC version can run on Windows 98 or later), and I've worked with it on hardware as low-end as my 800 MHz iMac G4 (it won't run on my G3 Pismo, though). The Mac version needs OS X 10.4 or newer.
With the latest version (v6.0.9233 at the time of this writing) came a few updates for the iPad, and one of the most important of these was the ability to automatically change the host's resolution to fit the iPad. Previous versions scaled the host's display, resulting in poor performance and unpleasant graphics. The resolution adjustment makes it so much easier to work with - and reduces lag at the same time.
Could be Improved
TeamViewer supports multitouch gestures, but only when the host OS does as well. For example, two-finger scrolling works fine in Mac OS X Leopard and (usually) Windows 7, but Windows 2000 is a bit more fickle. For the iPad, Bluetooth keyboards are also (kind of) supported, but only for typing - key commands have to be entered manually via the onscreen keyboard. On a Mac, however, key commands work as expected (except for Cmd-Q, which quits the app).
Need to Fix
Host-side sound is okay, but I'd prefer to hear what I'm doing on my iPad rather than on the host - I've used this to help fix errors on other people's computers, and having them tell me what sound their computer is making is pretty weak.
Another major issue is the cursor - it's just not implemented well. It works like a mouse: you put your finger down, move it across the screen, and the cursor follows. It doesn't stay right underneath your finger like you'd expect it to do. In short, I consider this a bad tendency, and it needs to be fixed in a future update.
Despite its little faults, TeamViewer is clearly one of the best remote desktop apps I've ever used - and the fact that it's free is just icing on the cake. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who owns more than one computer.
Austin Leeds is a Mac and iPad user - and a college student in Iowa.
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