There are times when you simply have to remote into a machine while you're on the go. That's all fine and good when you have a laptop available; but when all you have at your disposal is a smart phone or tablet, the tools you choose can really make your day much easier.
In some instances, of course, you're using a smart phone to manage the desktop and no matter what application you use, it's a challenge to navigate. Some apps, however, are better than others. I have compiled a list of five apps that work well for remote connections to desktops or servers. Each of these apps works on the Android platform (though some do offer an IOS version) and are free to use (with the exception of using TeamViewer for support purposes).
Let's dig in and see what these five apps have to offer.
TeamViewer is actually the one remote tool I use the most. In fact, I use it pretty much all day. The Android version of the tool is one of the best in breed. Not only does TeamViewer allow you to remotely manage a machine, you can transfer files to and from your Android device. TeamViewer features: Multi-touch support, friends list, automatic quality adjustment, gain access behind firewalls and proxies, 256-bit AES security/1024-bit RSA key exchange, and more. This version is for private use only. For using Team Viewer in a support environment, you'll need to purchase a license which isn't cheap. For information on licensing, check out the comparison page.
Join.me is basically just a viewer, but even with this, you can easily walk a user through troubleshooting an issue. This tool makes for a great training tool or a remote meeting tool. The Join.me Android client features: Built-in chat, zoom in and out, view meeting attendees, and view annotations made by others. Although it's a bit low on the feature set, it does work quite well and allows you quick and painless access to view other's machines. Use it for training or meetings - either way, the Android Join.me solution makes for a solid remote access tool.
3. Android VNC Viewer
Android VNC Viewer is a pure VNC tool; in other words, in order to gain access to a remote machine with this app, you'll need to have a VNC server running. That's not a problem, as there are plenty out there. And once you've managed to make the connection, the app works like a champ. Android VNC Viewer features: Import/export settings, save connection information, zoom control, keyboard and mouse control, connect to any machine running a VNC server. The only caveat is that you cannot drag the cursor around the desktop - you simply point to an area and the cursor will appear.
4. 2X client RDP
2X client RDP allows you to connect to any machine that supports RDP. The 2X client RDP app supports Windows all the way up to Windows 8 and offers one of the more seamless keyboard interactions you'll find. Other features include: Unlimited connections, SSL security, full screen mode, easy scrolling, sound integration zoom support, two and three finger gesture support, gesture configuration, and more. This particular app can be used on Android from version 1.6 and up – so nearly any Android device out there can enjoy an RDP connection.
5. Remote Desktop Connection
Remote Desktop Connection allows you to connect to either a RDP- or a VNC-enabled machine. This means you can connect to your Windows, Linux, or Mac machines with ease. Remote Desktop Connection features: Bookmark manager, console mode, RDP/NLA/TLS or automatic encryption mode, Touchpointer (cursor interacts with gestures), customizable resolutions, tab for RDP and much more. Remote Desktop Connect is open source and the source can be checked out from this Google Code site.
There are so many ways to connect to a machine remotely. When you're working from a mobile platform, it's always best to have a tool that will not only reliably make the connection, but make the process as simple as possible. These five tools may not be ideal for everyone, but they will get the job done and get it done easily.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.