I’ve been using Splashtop 2 (formerly known as Splashtop Personal) on my iPhone 5 off and on for the past few months. It’s an easy-to-setup and cost effective virtual desktop solution with great performance over both public Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
Splashtop 2 is compatible with iPhone 3GS+ and iPod touch (3rd generation and later). A PC with dual-core processors is recommended for best performance.
Get the Splashtop app
The Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop for iPhone & iPod – Personal app is available for $4.99 (USD) from the App Store. It includes the following features:
- Access for up to five computers via your Splashtop Account
- Gesture support
- View and edit files without the need for syncing to your local devices
- Support for Windows and Mac programs
- Watch HD videos and TV shows up to 30 frames per second
- Music streaming
- Presentation support for full audio and video
At first, Splashtop’s licensing might seem a bit confusing. Splashtop 2 is intended for non-commercial access for your home computers. I guess I would be violating the license by writing this post if I hadn’t made the upgrade to the Anywhere Access Pack (available as an in-app purchase). My other option would have been Splashtop Business, but that's more targeted towards enterprise customers.
The Anywhere Access Pack includes the following features:
- Access across Internet over 3G/4G and Wi-Fi using Splashtop’s secure network of global servers (I'm able to access a Mac and Windows PC on my home office network using Splashtop over Wi-Fi and the cellular network when I'm working outside of my office without much fuss)
- Optimized streaming performance under varying network conditions
- Full security via SSL with 256-bit AES encryption
Note: A free Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop app is also available for Android. I use Splashtop regularly on one of my Android tablets and find the features and performance on par with the iOS app.
Setup Splashtop on your PC
The first step to setup Splashtop on your PC is downloading the Streamer app, which is available for Windows and Mac — plus there's even a beta app for Linux.
To download Splashtop Streamer, follow these steps:
- Go to http://www.splashtop.com/personal
- Click Download Streamer (found under Step 2)
- Once the app is downloaded to your PC, follow the prompts to install the app
- Click Don’t Have One by Don’t Have a Splashtop account
- Enter in the following:
a. Your email
b. Your Splashtop password
c. Confirm password
- Click the Status tab and then Login to your Splashtop account
Set Windows security
Splashtop Streamer includes a number of Windows security options that you may want to consider when setting access from your iPhone to Windows desktop.
Here's how to set Windows security:
- Click the Security tab
- Optionally, select Windows password
- Optionally, select security code and then enter your security code to the Confirm your security code field
- Optionally, select Enable lock screen
- Optionally, select Enable blank screen
Set Advanced settings
Advanced settings control port number and proxy settings when you're using Splashtop 2 to access a desktop residing behind a corporate grade firewall.
Click on Advanced Settings and the Splashtop Streamer lets you perform the following options:
- Change Port Number
- Change Proxy settings (No proxy, Auto, Manual) and you can enter your server name, port number, username, and password in the requisite fields
Use Splashtop on your iPhone
Splashtop has some speed under the hood. Scrolling around the screen is effortless on the iPhone. The steps in this section also work if you want to use Splashtop 2 on your iPad to take advantage of the additional screen real estate. However, the iPad app costs a little bit more at $6.99 (USD).
To use Splashtop 2:
- Tap the Splashtop icon, and a screen will appear that lists the PCs you can access (Figure A):
- Tap on the PC you want to access, and Splashtop will connect to it
- Next, when you see a list of Hints-Gestures (Figure B), tap
- Navigation on the iPhone’s screen is a bit
cramped, but you have full touch control over your PC's
cursor (and it's very responsive). Figure C shows a web browser open on my
desktop accessed through Splashtop:
- Tap on the Keyboard icon (bottom right corner)
and you can open up a touch keyboard with the Shift, Ctrl, Alt, Command key,
and Esc key available at the top of the keyboard (Figure D):
- Optionally, tap on the Gear icon to open the Keyboard settings screen. Select On/Off to set the Auto pop up keyboard.
Splashtop 2 is a fairly simple virtual desktop solution with a great price point that’s ideal for those incidental or ongoing requirements for remote access to a PC back in the office. What remote desktop software of apps do you use for your mobile device? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.