For any admin, having the ability to remote into machines at all times can be a blessing (and a curse). Tablets, especially those of the 4G variety, make this fairly easy. With the incredible portability and ever-growing speeds of tablet networking, these devices are great tools for admins when it comes to remote working.
But with almost everything, there's a caveat — with so many tools available, it's hard to know which options are best. Let's take a look at the remote solutions for the Android tablet platform that I've had the most success using.
My criteria for success with these apps is:
- Must allow the user to easily connect to a desktop
- Must be secure
- Must allow multiple connections
My favorite remote tools for Android1. Remote Desktop Client by Xtralogic, Inc. This is one of the very best remote solutions for the Android platform. It costs $14.95 (USD) and gives you the ability to install the Xtralogic RDC Companion app on a desktop and authenticate with your Google Account for easy, secure access (Figure A). Once you do that, you'll be able to access that desktop, even if it's behind a firewall or router. Figure A
If your machine is behind a firewall, this is the best method of connecting.
Once you have the Companion client installed, install the Android app with these steps:
- Open up the Google Play Store
- Search for "xtralogic" (no quotes)
- Tap the Xtralogic Remote Desktop Client entry [Note: There is a Remote Desktop Client (Trial) app that lets you test the features for 15 days. I recommend that you install the free trial to make sure this piece of software is exactly what you need.]
- Tap Download
- Tap Accept & download
Once you have everything installed, it's time to set up a connection. Here's how you do it:
- Open the application
- Tap the menu button
- From the menu, tap Settings
- From the Settings window (Figure B), tap Simple Connect settings
- Tap Enable Simple Connect
- Enter your Google account credentials
- Click OK
From this window, you can manage the settings but not the connections.
With the connection complete, go back to the main window and tap on the connection you just created to connect to the remote desktop.2. TeamViewer for Remote Control
TeamViewer is my second favorite method of connecting to a remote desktop from Android. The Android TeamViewer app is free, slick, and allows you to easily connect to your remote desktops (or a client's remote desktop) with little hassle. TeamViewer also has a partner list that will remember your connections. To add a connection to the partner list, follow the steps below (Remember, you'll need the ID and password — without those two pieces of information, you won't be able to connect):
- Download and then open TeamViewer on the Android tablet
- Tap Computers & Contacts
- Tap the "+Computer" button (middle icon in the upper right corner)
- Enter the details for the computer (Figure C)
- Tap Save
You can also create groups to help manage all of your connections.As far as usage is concerned, TeamViewer is probably the easiest of the lot. Simply install the application, launch the application, and enter the credentials in the connection window (Figure D). Figure D
The TeamViewer interface is the cleanest of the bunch.3. android-vnc-viewer
This is a straight-up VNC viewer that allows you to connect to any reachable desktop/server running a VNC server. It doesn't have a ton of bells or whistles, but it's free, reliable, and simple to use.
Follow these steps to connect to a VNC-enabled machine:
- Install and then open android-vnc-viewer
- Enter the remote machine information on the connection screen (Figure E)
- Tap Connect
That's it.Figure E
Adjust the colors setting to help speed up a slower connection.
Once you've created a connection, it will be available in the connection drop-down. If you have a number of machines on the same network scheme, you can simply save a copy and then edit the new copy instead of having to re-enter all of the details every time.
Each of these remote tools works well. Depending upon your needs, one will probably serve you better than the others, but each of them can be counted on to get the job done.
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 getjackd.net.