Software to control a Mac or PC from iOS is coming from Google

iPad LogMeIn Ignition controlling MacBook

You’ll eventually be able to control a remote computer from your iOS device with a new app from the unlikeliest of sources: Google. The company is working on what it calls a “Chromoting” tool for iOS; the term being a sort of portmanteau of the terms “Chrome” and “remoting”. An Android version is expected first but the software for iOS should soon follow.

LogMeIn Ignition

Mention of the iOS client, along with the general status of the project is available in the Chromium issues tracker and was spotted by 9to5 Mac¬†on Thursday. Here’s a snippet of the status, explaining that the client software needs a little more visual polish:

“As noted, the iOS version is very unpolished at this stage. The toolbar icons are all placeholder, and the background color behind the host screen needs to be changed from blue to black. The upper toolbar for iOS (containing just the back button, so it can barely be called a toolbar), is revealed by tapping on the compass in the lower toolbar. Our plan is to consolidate the upper and lower toolbars into one toolbar that will likely be located in the upper section of the screen.”

News of an Android version was first discovered last July but this is the first mention I’ve seen of an iOS edition. Assuming the two clients will have the same functions, here’s a high level summary of how the software will work:

  • Authenticate using a Google account on the phone
  • Query and display the host list from the Chromoting directory server
  • Connect to and communicate with the host service over XMPP/ICE
  • Establish peer-to-peer channels for communicating with the host service

Google already offers this functionality on the desktop with a Remote Desktop Client extension in the Chrome Web Store. And of course, there are plenty of third-party remote desktop clients for iOS available.

So I wonder if a sizable percentage of iOS device owners will actually even use Google’s Chromoting¬†tool. It’s likely that the software will require Chrome to be installed on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to begin with — Google is building many features into the Chrome framework, turning it into a strategic platform — and I suspect far more people use Safari over Chrome on iOS anyway.

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