Parallels Desktop 6 recently launched, and we were all over that with a review. Today, Parallels Mobile is live for the iPad/ iPhone/ iPod touch (s aapl). Parallels Mobile lets you access any virtual machine running on your Mac with Parallels Desktop 6 over Wi-Fi or 3G. The app is free for the taking, but you need the desktop program for it to be of any use. The Parallels Mobile connection takes place using the Parallels server, with login required using the credentials used to register Parallels Desktop 6.
Accessing remote desktop sessions from the iPad has been possible since day one with apps such as LogMeIn Ignition. I’ve been using Parallels Mobile for a solid day, and the draw is that no other app is required. You already have Parallels Desktop 6, and working with the free Mobile version, the two work together to make the connection happen. Parallels Mobile does a good job using the iPad touchscreen to full effect, even while accessing Windows 7 (s msft) as reviewed.
It’s easy to get going with Parallels Mobile by downloading the app from the App Store. Note that it’s available for both the iPhone and the iPad, but only the iPad version is being reviewed. Once the app is installed, go to your virtual machine running on the Mac (Windows 7 Ultimate used in the review), and go to Preferences. There’s a Mobile tab where login credentials are entered. Fire up the app on the iPad, enter the credentials, then tap to connect to the desktop. The connection takes place over the web, so the iPad and desktop can be anywhere. I’ve tested using the Mac running Windows 7 at home and the iPad connecting to it across town. The speed of the connection has a great impact on the speed of operating the desktop system, but it’s been quite usable, even with poor 3G connections.
Parallels Mobile connects to the desktop system in just a few seconds. It can be run in either portrait or landscape orientation (auto-rotation supported), but landscape gives a bigger picture of the desktop. The resolution is outstanding on the iPad, as the app automatically makes the remote desktop fit the width of the iPad screen. The image quality is configurable on the iPad with a slider, but the default setting works very well, providing the best image with good performance.
Windows 7 on the iPad
Interacting with the remote Windows 7 desktop is as simple as tapping on the screen. The system is very responsive and accurate, even while tapping small items. Two-finger scrolling works in any window with a scrollbar, both horizontal and vertical. You can use two-finger pinch/ zoom anywhere in Windows, and it works smoothly. This turns Windows 7 into a fully touch-optimized OS, and a joy to use. Tapping the keyboard icon at the top of the iPad interface pops up an onscreen keyboard that is optimized for use with Windows, including Fn keys.
Anything you can do on a Windows system, you can do in Parallels Desktop, and now that carries to the iPad. Using the program to operate Windows works well, and is even quite fun. I’ve used LogMeIn to control Windows systems in the past (no Mac involved), and the Parallels solution is better. It is as fast (or faster), easier to control, and turns using Windows into a very Mac-like experience.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Work Force?