App Spotlight: LogMeIn for iOS Provides Free Remote Access to Your PCs

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Phones and tablets can work wonders, but they can't do everything. Sometimes you need the PC you left behind in the office, whether it's to retrieve a document, review an old email, or even run a program.

That's the beauty of remote-access apps: They pipe your PC's screen straight to your phone or tablet, thus affording you the same control as if you were sitting right at the keyboard.

The newly updated LogMeIn iOS app offers free remote access to your PCs. The key word there is "free" -- LogMeIn used to charge $29.99 for its Ignition app, which effectively did the same thing. (Alas, Ignition remains the only LogMeIn option for Android users; the free version hasn't made its way to that platform yet.)

I’ve been a LogMeIn fan for years, first using it on my laptop to access my desktop while traveling, then tapping it (literally) on my iPhone and iPad.

But it was hard to justify that $30 pricetag, especially when lots of competing remote-access apps were offering similar features for considerably less -- or free. (I’m thinking in particular of TeamViewer, which I still consider a top choice -- particularly for Android users. It's a freebie.)

LogMeIn for iOS provides remote access to and control of an unlimited number of PCs and Macs (which must be running some version of LogMeIn, natch -- including LogMeIn Free).

It works with multiple-monitor setups and can even wake a "sleeping" PC thanks to Wake-on-LAN support.

If you’ve never tried this kind of remote control, I can't recommend it highly enough; it’s a great way to access files, look up information, and even shut down a PC you accidentally left running.

Granted, there tends to be a lot of zooming and scrolling involved, especially if you're using an iPhone, but it's not so unwieldy that you can't get a few key tasks accomplished.

LogMeIn also provides a killer solution for remote troubleshooting, great if you’re the IT guy (or gal) for a group of non-tech-savvy field workers.

Instead of slow, frustrating "go here, click that" phone conversations, you get full access to the user’s desktop, where you can work your fix-it magic just as though you were sitting in front of it.

The latest version of the app includes a particularly important update: Bluetooth keyboard support. That's especially helpful for those using an iPad as a laptop replacement. And the app's Cloud Bank integration, which links your LogMeIn account to various cloud services, now supports Box and SkyDrive.

I’m not going to say LogMeIn is the single best solution for remote PC access and control via your iPhone or iPad, but it’s definitely a good one -- especially now that it's free. It’s one of those apps you may not need often, but when you do, you'll praise your favorite deity it’s there.

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