Technology

iPad Virtualization Tool Works Likes the Desktop, Feels Like an App

Parallels Access is far from the only option that allows iPad users to leave their laptop at home. But the just-launched product has a little something its competition doesn't have—the ability to give your desktop the feel of a native tablet app.

Road warriors have a new option to take their desktop on the road—while leaving it at home at the same time.

The virtualization company Parallels, which first gained widespread popularity among Mac users for its ability to run Windows directly from a Mac desktop, is coming to the iPad via the just-launched Parallels Access app.

And if you’ve tried apps like this in the past and found the copy-paste to be too far from what you’re used to with your device, you’ll be in for a surprise here. More details:

The big advantage: For people who want to pack a little less on the next road trip, the Parallels Access app allows, through its virtualization software, access to desktop apps on your iPad, whether Windows or Mac. The surprise that’s drawing attention is that the company has figured out a way to make the desktop apps work as if they were native touch apps—with slight functionality changes to reflect the differences between platforms. At $79.99 a year for a subscription, this just might be worth the cost in some cases.

The reaction: Early reviews are positive, if guarded. “I found that Parallels Access mainly delivered on its promise, though I certainly uncovered blemishes,” noted USA Today’s Edward C. Baig. Mac Observer’s John Martellaro, meanwhile, claimed that users will find the combination of the iPad app and the desktop client it requires to be “the perfect duo to help them get some serious content creation done,” but he noted that flaky connections may prove a stumbling point for users.

Not the only game in town: While Parallels’ app-like approach is unlike that of many of its competitors, a number of apps on the market offer this functionality, such as OnLive Desktop and the enterprise-focused Citrix Receiver, the latter of which also works on the iPhone. Parallels Access has functionality differences that can be advantages or disadvantages, depending on your mindset. Parallels requires access to your computer through a secondary app, while its competitors rely on remote virtual machines that offer comparable experiences to desktops but don’t require access to your current computer—which may fly a little better with your IT staff.

That said, this style of usage may not work for you on these devices, especially if you do a lot of typing.

Do you use virtualization on your iPad? If so, what pitfalls have you run into? Tell us about it in the comments.

(Parallels press photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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