LogMeIn Ignition takes the company's already lauded remote access software and adds it to iPhone and iPad. In doing so, it may have come up with the one good reason to own an iPad.
Remote access software is all well and good, but the time you really need it is when you are away from any computer. Enter LogMeIn Ignition. A £17 app for iPhone or iPad, LogMeIn gives you control of your desktop or laptop PC, Windows or Mac, from anywhere you can connect to the web.
Setup is absurdly easy. Install the app from the iTunes store, then download and install the free client software to the computers you want to access. Then, in the Ignition app, log in with your email address and password, et voila: you control all the systems connected to your LogMeIn account. You can ask the app to remember all the details, or input them every time, depending on your security needs. And the client PC needs to be switched on and connected to the internet.
In our tests, logging in to our home PC from the office was an absolute cinch. Initially setting up to log into an office-based machine via the PC Advisor server was marginally more complicated, but still a task that even the most non-techie person could complete without gnawing at their knuckles.
And there you have it: your Mac or PC desktop looms large on your iPhone or iPod screen, with the controls at your fingertips.
It's not as easy to use your PC via an iPhone as it is from a desktop keyboard. Getting used to mousing is tricky: LogMeIn Ignition's default keeps the mouse fixed in the middle of the screen while you move the desktop underneath it. To open or close a window on the remote computer's desktop you must pan the desktop so that the icon is positioned under the mouse pointer, then double-tap on the screen.
The preferences allow you to change mousing behaviour back to the traditional style. But perservere: after a short time the sense behind LogMeIn's default settings becomes clear. And there's a help menu for guidance.
iPhone pinch-zoom techniques work as expected, as does the accelerometer. Other multitouch gestures produce standard mouse actions: a two-finger tap is a right-click, and you can scroll within a window using a two-finger swipe.
LogMeIn Ignition also adds to the iPhone's virtual keyboard standard keyboard function keys such as Ctrl, Alt and the arrow keys.
In use on the iPhone this means that accessing and editing files is perfectly feasible, although you wouldn't want to be typing out essays and emails. On the iPad, however, the game changes. A businessman friend told us that he no longer carries a laptop when he travels, preferring to access his desktop PC via the iPad. And he chooses not to use his iPad's email client: instead he simply drops into Outlook on his Windows PC, from wherever he is. That, dear reader, is successful remote access.
You can limit the remote computer's screen size, resolution and colour quality to save bandwidth, and specify whether your network is a LAN or internet connection. During tests in several locations, however, we had no trouble at all remotely using various PCs on the default settings.
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As apps go it's not cheap, but we're smitten with LogMeIn Ignition. Easy to install and use, cool and practical. On the iPhone or a Google Android smartphone it makes remote access of your desktop PC simple, and useful. And on the iPad or an Android tablet, it makes Apple's uber gizmo as useful as a high-end laptop.