Tag Archives | Parallels

Parallels Access 2.0 Lets You Use Mac or Windows Apps From Any iOS or Android Device

Photoshop CC for OS X running on an iPad via Parallels Access 2.0

Photoshop CC for OS X running on an iPad via Parallels Access 2.0

Last year, Parallels–the company behind the best-selling virtualization software for OS X–introduced a service called Parallels Access.

It let you use an iPad to remote-control your Windows PC or Mac across the Internet, allowing you to run PC apps from your tablet. Other companies had done that before, but Parallels didn’t just cram your PC’s screen onto the iPad: It created an environment which made using Windows or Mac apps as much like using iPad apps as possible, with features such as iOS-style cut-and-paste and a touch-friendly app launcher which looked like the iPad’s own home screen.

When I reviewed the first version of Access, I had some quibbles but was still dazzled by the whole concept, which was bursting with cleverness and technical derring-do.

Parallels Access running on a Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Parallels Access running on a Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Now Parallels is releasing Parallels Access 2.0. There’s quite a bit that’s new–including the fact that it now works on iPhones and Android devices as well as iPads.

The iOS and Android variants of Parallels Access are similar, but not identical. For one thing, they both do a good job of hewing to the interface style of the mobile operating system they’re running on: Cut and paste, for instance, look like they should in both cases.

Both versions also have a new feature or two not seen in the other one. The iOS app lets you use the mobile device’s microphone with apps running on the remote computer, and includes a new file manager which looks like iOS while providing access to files on the distant computer. The Android app, meanwhile, lets you plunk shortcuts to specific PC apps on the Android home screen, a feat which isn’t technically possible in iOS.

Parallels Access for iOS's new file manager

Parallels Access for iOS’s new file manager

Oh yeah, there’s the pricetag. When Parallels originally released Access, it charged $80 to control one computer for one year. It quickly lowered that price. And now it’s slashed it again: For $20 a year or $35 for two years (or $30 for two years for a limited time), you can control up to five computers from as many iOS and/or Android devices as you want. There’s also a new business plan for companies which want to roll out Access to multiple staffers at once.

As before, Parallels Access is amazing: I can’t imagine anyone coming up with a better way to put OS X and Windows apps onto a mobile device which can’t run them natively. But there are some technical limitations which are beyond Parallels’ control. The OS X apps I used on my iPad didn’t have a Retina-like crispness–text was a tad fuzzy even though you can now choose between three different screen resolutions. Not surprisingly, the experience feels most like the apps are right on your mobile device if you’ve got a fast Internet connection. And for all that Access does to make desktop apps more touch-friendly, there are still tasks which are tough to perform with your fingertip, such as selecting part of an image in Photoshop.

For all these reasons, Access doesn’t reduce the need for powerful native apps for iOS and Android–and there are more of those today than there were last year when the first version of Access shipped, including Microsoft’s very credible version of Office for the iPad. But when you want to get your hands on an app or file which isn’t available on your mobile device, Parallels Access could be a lifesaver–and at $20 a year, it’s a reasonable deal even if you don’t use it all that often.

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Parallels Aims to Help Windows-to-Mac Switchers

Parallels Switch to Mac Editio Parallels Desktop was the first software that let you virtualize Windows on an Intel Mac (and is current archrival of VMWare Fusion). Today, Parallels is announcing that it’s releasing a new version of the software aimed at an obvious audience: folks who are moving from a Windows PC to a Mac.

Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition includes Parallels Desktop itself–which, as usual, lets you run Windows within OS X in a window, full-screen mode, or the cool Coherence view that puts Windows apps right inside the OS X interface. It bundles it with software and a USB cable for transferring your current Windows setup–OS, applications, and files–from your old, real PC into a virtual one on a Mac. I haven’t had a chance to try this utility, and system-transfer tools are one of the tougher things to do in software. (Even Apple’s own Mac-to-Mac Migration Assistant doesn’t always do the job without glitches.) But it’s a nifty idea if it works well, since it would simplify moving a licensed copy of Windows you’ve already paid for onto the Mac so you wouldn’t end up having to pay for a new copy of the OS.

The package also comes with two hours of interactive training that introduces OS X and helps Windows types make the leap:

Parallels Switch to Mac

Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac costs $99.99 (not including a copy of Windows). That’s twenty bucks more than the standard version–not unreasonable if you need the transfer software and hardware and would find the training useful.

I’ve used both Parallels and Fusion over the years and have been mostly happy with both; I’ve been running Fusion lately but plan to give this version of Parallels a whirl once I get my hands on a copy. Windows-on-Mac users: Which virtualization software do you prefer, and why? Anyone out there still using Apple’s Boot Camp?


A Pleasant Surprise: Mac Software at Target

target_storeI may have missed the boat completely here and its been there a while, but while I was shopping my local Target for blank DVDs (so I can finally get around to installing Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro) I came across something I didn’t expect.

Sitting there all by their lonesome were several copies of Parallels 3.0 for Mac for $79.99 (although yes, we’re now at 4.0, which was released in November of last year). They were almost lost in a sea of Windows software, but yes, they were there. This surprised me–while I’d expect the software to be available at electronics retailers, I wouldn’t expect it here.

After all, those shopping in Target are likely not there to buy technical software like Parallels. Also, the stereotype of the Mac user is more affluent than what may be considered the “average” consumer for a Target or Wal-Mart type discount establishment. Who needs Mac software other than us techies? The Mac is still just an elite club…right?

Not anymore.

img_0115Even just a year ago, it would have been unheard of to see Mac software (or heck, hardware for that matter) anyplace but from Apple itself or its then considerably smaller network of Apple Authorized Resellers.

Now, with the Macintosh experiencing somewhat of a rebirth through the ‘halo effect’ of first the iPod and now the iPhone, jumping on the Apple bandwagon is in vogue.

Big name retailers like Target are much more cautious in deciding what gets put on their shelves because shelf space is at a premium. Everything must make money–they cannot specialize in one thing because consumers expect them to carry everything.

In other words, this means only a select number of products from each category make it onto the shelves. For Parallels to convince Target that it is indeed worth it speaks volumes to the Mac’s newfound retail power. Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last piece of Mac OS software to make it to Target.

So I’m curious. Where are you all finding Mac software and accessories where you haven’t before?


Parallels Desktop for Mac Hits the Big 4.0

parallels-logoParallels Desktop for Mac was the first software product that let you run virtualized copies of Windows within OS X on a Mac. It was a feat which created the closest thing in existence to an ideal computing platform, as far as I’m concerned. But Parallels ended up in fierce competition with VMWare’s Fusion, and version 2.0 of Fusion was the most highly-evolved way to run Windows on a Mac.

The rivalry between Parallels and Fusion remains one of the coolest ones in computing: Both of these nifty products keep getting better. And today, Parallels is back with Desktop for Mac 4.0.

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