Oftentimes I’ll connect my MacBook Pro to a TV to watch movies or stream content from the web, and it always used to annoy me that I’d have to get up and go to the computer to type something. I could use my wireless mouse to click anything from the couch, but if I ever needed to search for something I was out of luck.
The first app that solved this problem for me was Air Keyboard, a free app that replicates a Mac’s keyboard and allows you to control your Mac as if you had a bluetooth keyboard (it works over WiFi). You simplydownload the app on your iPad and install the companion app on your Mac and that’s it. You know have the equivalent of a bluetooth keyboard, complete with a touch pad and plenty of other features.
Next up is Splashtop 2, a remote desktop solution. Splashtop 2 is $4.99 for the iPad (there’s a separate iPhone version)for basic functionality with two subscription models
for advanced functionality. Splashtop allows you to not only control your Mac remotely, but also allows you to see the screen on your iPad. Therefore you can control your Mac from anywhere in the house. You can leave it on your desk and access it via Splashtop to e-mail a file, or play a movie that’s on your Mac and view it on your iPad in bed. Also you can use your Mac to access websites that require flash from your iPad.
Splashtop only allows you to control your Mac from the same WiFi network. If you’d like to access your Mac from anywhere you can subscribe to Anywhere Access for $1.99/mo or $16.99/yr.
Both of these apps have made my life easier and more convenient. I’ve included several screenshots below that allow you to see the apps in action.
You may have heard of OnLive, a company best known for it’s streaming / cloud gaming platform that allows you to play PC games on demand without downloading anything. Well now they also offer the OnLive Desktop app which allows you to access a PC in the cloud on your tablet. There are quite a few apps that will let you connect to your own desktop, however in this case you’re connecting to one of their desktops that have free, pre-installed apps (pretty much just Microsoft Office 2010 right now for free members).
Currently there are two service plans, Standard (free) and Plus ($4.99/mo) with Pro ($9.99/mo) listed as coming soon. The Standard service gets you access to a desktop (with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Adobe Reader) as available (I didn’t have any wait at all when I tried it this morning) and 2GB of cloud storage. I assume you can access your files on another computer by logging into your account, however when I tried to log into my account on my MacBook I kept getting redirected to the login page.
The Plus plan grants your priority access to a desktop, allows you to use Internet Explorer to browse the web with Flash enabled and includes “Gigabyte speed” cloud storage and Webmail. It doesn’t specify if it includes more cloud storage than the Standard 2gb, but it notes you can use DropBox and other cloud storage options with it.
The Pro plan offers the benefits of the Plus plan with 50gb of cloud storage. There’s also an Enterprise plan and Collaborative plan ‘coming soon’ with various other benefits included.
So far my experience with OnLive on my iPad has been a decent one. I noticed a tiny bit of lag when typing and clicking (or rather tapping) on things, but this very well could be due to some slower than preferable WiFi. Otherwise everything worked as expected and looks quite good on the iPad. I could certainly imagine this being a useful tool until Microsoft releases Office for the iPad. The app and its Standard service are free, so I recommend you create an account and give it a try. You never know when you might need it.
Below are a few screenshots of it running on my iPad: