Could Parallels’ new app make the question of whether Microsoft will release Office on iPad a moot one?
Renton-based Parallels is launching Parallels Access, an iPad app that allows users to tunnel into their Mac or Windows-based PC, and then remotely use those apps on the iPad as if those apps were made for the iPad.
Sure, there are already remote access apps that allow iPad users to access their desktop or laptop machines. But Parallels goes a step further, transforming those apps on your desktops or laptops into touch-friendly apps.
For instance, a magnifying glass shows up in certain applications, allowing users to see and correctly touch an otherwise small menu item. The magnifying glass also takes context into consideration, offering different actions, depending on what item the magnifying glass is hovering over, that can be taken using the same finger holding down the magnifying glass.
Other features of Parallels Access that make the Windows or Mac apps behave like iPad apps include the App Launcher, where your programs are displayed in iPad-style icons; being able to select, drag and drop elements with one finger; native scrolling; and a desktop keyboard that looks like the iPad’s (though it will also include the Windows and Mac Command keys).
Parallels says the app is designed to work even with low-bandwidth connections.
The app is available in the iTunes App Store. Though the app is free, users pay for the service with an annual subscription of $79.99 for each computer being accessed. (There’s currently a 14-day free trial for those accessing Macs. The version for those accessing PCs is currently still in beta; while it’s in beta, customers can use it for free.)
The company says it’s working on support for devices in addition to the iPad.
Parallels is a virtualization and automation software company perhaps known best to consumers for its Parallels for Desktop software that allows Mac users to run Windows and Mac apps on their machines without rebooting.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has not released an Office app for iPad, although it does have an app — called Office Mobile — for iPhones and Android Phones. The Office Mobile app requires an Office 365 subscription.
The Parallels Access app, then, would seem to be one way for iPad users who need Office to get around that lack. And indeed, in this review, The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg talks about using the app to remotely connect to his Word program on his home Windows PC. Here are other reviews from The Verge and Mashable.
Here’s a demo video of Parallels Access from the company: