Access Your Computer Anywhere With Remote Desktop Apps for iPhone and iPad

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iphone rdp remote desktop appsThis article has been updated for 2011 with even more of the best apps for turning your iOS device into a remote desktop client. Originally written with the idea of using the iPhone for remote access, most of the features in these applications apply equally to iPod touch and iPad devices.

If you need to access your home or office computer while you're out and about, it's not hard to find an app for that. Sorting through the options may take a little longer. We think some of the best remote desktop apps for iOS devices are Jugaari's Jaadu Remote Desktop, Carter Harrison's WinAdmin, LogMeIn's LogMeIn Ignition, JumiTech's JumiOne or, for customers of the KineticD backup service, KineticExtend.

All of these apps are RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) clients for your iPhone and in most ways they're similar. The big idea is that you can use your iPhone to control your Windows PC or Mac desktop when you're on an internal network or over the Internet.

Use a Remote Desktop App to Control a Computer from Your iPhone

Whatever you can do on your desktop computer, you can control using your iPhone or iPod touch, using the same actions you would if you were sitting in front of the machine: click to trigger actions, drag and drop, open files and folders, edit files and so on. You have the option of viewing your mini-desktop in portrait or landscape modes. Tapping or pinching zooms the screen.

All of these apps make it easier to connect to your home computer and set up a remote desktop. Once your iPhone is in control, you have two ways of triggering actions: move the mouse to click or drag the window under a stationary mouse and click.

Most modern version of Windows (XP/Vista/7) include RDP by default. To configure your desktop to accept RDP connections isn't difficult but involves a number of steps. You can find out how to do that at Microsoft's Web site.

Comparison of the Best RDP Apps for iPhone

We've already spilled the beans that most of these remote desktop apps are pretty similar, but there are some features/quirks you'll want to be aware of before you make your choice and plunk down your hard-earned money. (In a hurry? Skip right to the apps.)

Getting Started: Installation, Accounts and the Search for Simple Set-up

Jaadu and LogMeIn require you to install their clients on your desktop; WinAdmin does not. LogMeIn requires you to set up a free account at its Web site. KineticExtend also requires users to set up an account; the initial set-up is free, but after the free trial ends monthly fees start at around $3.95 a month.

Jaadu requires you to alter your firewall settings on your router and you can find instructions on how to do that on its Web site. I initially had some difficulty getting Jaadu to work but Jaadu's support tech responded quickly to walk me through the setup. Ultimately, the only way I could get it to work was to turn off my ZoneAlarm firewall. If I had more time, I'm sure I could have gotten around having to do that, but it's something to think about.

Once you have the iPhone client configured and talking to your desktop, you’ll get a list that’s been populated with the names of the computers you can access. Tap the name of the desktop machine you want and you're good to go, although a bit slowly because of the iPhone and iPod touch's limitations.

All Access Pass: Comparing Remote Desktops on the iPhone

WinAdmin, the most streamlined of the three, ran out of the box with little work. LogMeIn and Jaadu took a bit more doing, because you must also install a desktop app and configure them.

Space doesn't permit me to go into each in greater detail, so read the app descriptions carefully. For additional details about specific apps, check out our individual reviews of LogMeIn IgnitionJumiOne and KineticExtend.

Some differences you should be aware of include: Jaadu and LogMeIn are capable of streaming audio to your iPhone. Where these two greatly differ from WinAdmin is in the higher level of security. LogMeIn will run on the desktop from a flash drive and also offers different tiers of connectivity and flexibility through its Web site.

Another thing to note is that JumiOne isn't technically an RDP app, it's a platform. Translation: while JumiOne is a free download, you'll need to upgrade with an in-app purchase to activate the remote desktop features. The upside is you can also buy modules that turn your iPhone into a remote web cam, game controller or universal remote for your media center. The downside, there's still no such thing as free.

All of the remote desktop apps mentioned support Windows XP, Vista (not Vista Home), and Windows 7 Ultimate. If you want to connect to a Mac, then you'll need Jaadu VNC, LogMeIn Ignition or KineticExtend — neither WinAdmin and JumiOne will do it.

I'm going to wimp out and not specifically recommend one over the other because it really depends on what you aim to do. If security matters, go with either Jaadu or LogMeIn. If you want an a la carte app with extra bells and whistles available at a price, then JumiOne might be your best pick.

Remote Desktop Apps for iPhone

WinAdmin, Remote Desktop (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
4
WinAdmin, Remote Desktop
Developer: Carter Harrison
Price: $7.99 Download on the App Store
Ignition (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
3.5
Ignition
Developer: LogMeIn, Inc.
Price: $999.99 Download on the App Store
This app is not currently available in the App Store.
KineticMobile: Online & Cloud Backup (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
not yet rated
KineticMobile: Online & Cloud Backup
Developer: Acpana Business Systems Inc.
Price: free Download on the App Store
JumiOne - Full Access to your Windows PC (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
5
JumiOne - Full Access to your Windows PC
Developer: Michael Badichi
Price: free Download on the App Store

* Note some of these apps have specific downloads for the iPad. Be sure you're getting the right app for your device prior to downloading.

New Remote Desktop App on the Block

A new remote desktop app has been quickly climbing the Top 100 list in the App Store:

Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPhone & iPod (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
4.5
Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPhone & iPod
Developer: Splashtop Inc.
Price: $6.99 Download on the App Store

Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPhone and iPod touch (which also works with iPad btw) is the only remote desktop app, according to the company, that streams full motion video and audio from your home computer -- either PC or Mac -- and also delivers access to you most important applications such as Powerpoint, MS Word, Quicken and more. Use WiFi, 4G or even 3G networks to remotely access your files and desktop applications from your iOS device. Here are a few highlights from the App Store description: watch Hulu, AOL or other Flash videos; use your media center to watch DVDs and listen to music in any format including WMV, WMA and Real; play 3D games like World of Warcraft; play Facebook's Flash games such as Farmville; connect to your desktop and use your standard web browser with full access to plugins like Java and Flash. Requires iOS 3.2 or later and either Windows XP or better or Mac OS X 10.6.

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  • Michael Alexander

    Clarification: Installing the Jaadu Remote Desktop is optional. Because Jaadu uses Microsoft's RDP protocol you can manually enter the machine's IP address in Jaadu RDP. The optional client software is designed to help users automatically configure their routers for full Internet access.

  • https://secure.logmein.com AndyS

    Hi, I'm Andy Stefano, the Community Relationship Manager at LogMeIn. Thanks for including LogMeIn Ignition in your review. I'd like to make a few corrections to your description of our services. First, creating an account with LogMeIn is part of the process for downloading the remote access client on the computer you want to access, so it’s really one simple step. Second, you can access a Mac through LogMeIn Ignition for iPhone/iPod touch by installing LogMeIn Free for Mac on that computer. Third, while LogMeIn Pro and LogMeIn IT Reach can stream audio to another Mac or PC during a remote session, they currently do not stream audio to the iPhone or iPod touch. Lastly, the version of LogMeIn Ignition that runs on a flash drive is a different "flavor" of LogMeIn Ignition than the iPhone/iPod touch version and must be purchased separately. However, its purpose is the same: you carry it around with you and use it to gain access to your desktop on the go.
    You can find out more about LogMeIn Ignition for iPhone at https://secure.logmein.com/welcome/iphone
    Thanks again.

  • Jado

    As Mike Alexander said, you don't have to use the Jaadu desktop software. I actually wasn't able to get it to work with their software at all; I just adjusted some settings to windows/router firewall and it worked.

    I haven't tried winadmin, but I can confirm that Jaadu was a little better in terms of connectivity and response time (even on Edge Jaadu is quite usable). Also I find Jaadu's setup of the keys and buttons more intuitive, but I guess this could be different for every person.

  • Jado

    I forgot to mention; before Logmein Ignition came out, I was using my logmein account through the safari browser. You can change your logmein account settings to work through html as opposed to flash. It's not as smooth as using hte Ignition app, but a good option for casual users of logmein.

  • Michael Alexander

    I guess I was overly ambitious in trying to cover these three relatively complex apps in a brief overview. That's one reason I suggested readers to go to the developer's Web site and read the product descriptions carefully.

    To clarify:

    LogMeIn requires you to register before you can download the desktop client. That's a step Jaadu and WinAdmin do not require.

    If you have a Mac, use LogMeIn Free for Mac.

    Only Jaadu streams audio to the iPhone and iPod touch.

    LogMeIn Ignition--not LogMeIn Ignition for iPhone--is the desktop client that also runs off a thumb drive. The annual subscription for LogMeIn Ignition is $39.95.

    I apologize for the inaccuracies. Thanks for clearing them up.

  • Marty

    Additional Clarification on Jaadu. You don't need the client as Michael states, but it is not as simple as entering an IP address in the Jaadu RDP. You have to take many steps such as create a static IP, set up an account with http://www.no-ip.com, modify your router configuration by forwarding a port. Not exactly for your average person. The client installation works well when it works, but if it does'nt, you have to use a manual process that is very lengthy and requires the support and information from several 3rd party sources. Their latest client is also a beta.

  • http://editorialengine.com Michael Alexander

    It's been a while since I used Jaadu RDP, so I had to go back and refresh my memory.

    I installed Jaadu Remote Connector and configured it as instructed (clicked the "enable file sharing" button). I followed the directions on the support page at Jaadu's site and configured my firewall as instructed (clicked the "remote access" box under Exceptions tab).

    I ran Jaadu RDP and Jaadu on my iPhone, and they discovered each other almost immediately and I was good to go.

    In retrospect, turning on "remote access" is not a smart thing to do from a security standpoint, but at least Jaadu works as they company instructions indicate.

  • http://www.proxynetworks.com Remote Desktop software

    These sound great in practice, but in usage I have had less than great luck on mobile devices. I do use Proxy Networks for PC-PC connections and am very pleased with them, but the offerings from other companies in the mobile sector have left me wanting more, to say the least.

  • Shawn Villasenor

    LogMeIn Ignition is a solid app. I wish proxy networks would come out with something similar to this. I use their desktop software, and don't want to switch to any new software. Check them out at http://www.proxynetworks.com

  • John

    Try Teamviewer for both iPhone and pc. App must be installed on both. Enter number and pw of pc on iPhone and connect remotely for free. No sound support.

  • http://twitter.com/r_atmark/status/50713279424757760 RyoAnnaNews

    ★AppCraver Access Your Computer Remotely With These iOS Apps for iPhone and iPad http://bit.ly/h69Ltq

  • http://twitter.com/appleproducts/status/51066033632591872 Anonymous (:

    Access Your Computer Remotely With These iOS Apps for iPhone and iPad: This article has been updated for 2011 wi... http://bit.ly/h69Ltq

  • Jason

    Really, no Teamviewer or VNC or RDP? This article is either a joke or a paid advertisement for the apps listed. Sorry but not including Teamviewer or VNC is unpardonable. In other words, try either Teamviewer or VNC if you're in the market for an app that allows you to control your computer from your i-device.

  • TheGooch

    I read several reviews for Remote Desktop apps, looking for one that works well with Windows 7. I gathered that Jump Desktop was the best from those. Did you try that one?

  • Garrett

    I would avoid Jumi products for now. For the past 5 or so updates I have not been able to get it to function. Tech support is also very unhelpful and has told me several times "we are working it" although they did not request additional info regarding the nature of my problem so it is difficult to tell if what they are working on will resolve my problems

  • Eddy Jawed

    Hi,

    I have a NAS network server connected to all my computers at home. I have mp3's stored on it that I access from any of my home pc's. I would just like to use my iphone the same way and connect to it - is it possible?

  • http://www.facebook.com/aliasgar.babat Aliasgar Babat

    TeamViewer is best for remotely accessing computer from iPhone. Additionally, one can even have a view only remote connection between iPhone or iPad and computer by deploying on premise remote support appliance such as RHUB appliances.