Remotely controlling your desktop PC or Mac using your iPhone is a compelling idea. Unfortunately, most solutions I’ve tried have been too limited, quirky or as slow as a three-toed sloth.
LogMeIn’s LogMeIn Ignition iPhone app and its desktop client work reasonably well and I’ve been pretty happy with the combination.
Before you can launch and use the app on your iPhone, you must create an account on LogMeIn’s Web site and download the free version of LogMeIn.
Now, fork over $29.99 (cough) and buy the LogMeIn Ignition. Yep, the price seems high to me too. It will be a deal breaker for most folks.
So what do you get for your dough? For starters, a quick and painless set up. These two apps work together right out of the box without any heavy lifting on your part — unlike some other virtual networking apps I’ve used.
Enter the same login info into LogMeIn Ignition that you used when you registered, followed by an additional access code for security (you can set both to auto-login, if you’re not security minded).
Next, you’ll get a list that’s been populated with the names of the computers you have downloaded clients for. Tap the name of the desktop machine you want. The first time you use LogMeIn Ignition, you’ll run across a hints page that explains how to click, drag and perform other actions on the iPhone that you’ll use to control your desktop machine.
Get beyond that, and what you’ll see is your desktop in miniature on your iPhone’s screen in either portrait or landscape mode (you decide). You can do most everything on the iPhone that you can do sitting in front of your desktop machine — just not as fast, which should seem intuitive, if not obvious.
With LogMeIn Ignition you can pinch to zoom or tap the magnifying glass icon; use your finger to move either the cursor or screen; single taps are single clicks and double clicks are double clicks, and so it goes.
There’s a pop-up keyboard you can use for ctrl-alt-del and similar commands and to enter text (in landscape mode, which is heavenly). There’s a separate set of functions keys.
If you have a dual monitor set up, shake the phone and you’ll go from one to the other, which is a cool feature.
It’s easy to max out your iPhone’s memory and potentially crash the app. That’s where some fiddling can help. Make sure no other apps are running by turning the phone off and back on, disabling push and selecting manual fetch. Use the lowest-possible resolutions you can.
When LogMeIn Ignition accesses your desktop machine, it will automatically drop the resolution of your monitor(s) to reduce the need for cycles. Fortunately, the app will restore your settings when you quit.
Using LogMeIn requires patience. You can get the iPhone to only do so much and LogMeIn takes it to the limit and a step beyond. It’s great to be able to use it in a pinch or with some forethought such as putting docs you need to access often on the desktop rather than in folders.
If you need more than that, use your laptop with one of LogMeIn’s paid solutions.