Remote Desktop vs. Desktop Functionality on a Tablet
Everyone has different ideas about what a tablet PC should do. Some users prefer to use it for entertainment and email. I, on the other hand, want my tablets to do pretty much everything I use a computer for. Understandably, we all have a different perspective on just how much functionality a tablet needs to be useful.
So, the idea of remote support and remote access is interesting to me. Citrix in particular is a popular name in this field, providing a range of tools like GoToMyPC (recently released for the iPad) to log into your PC remotely from a tablet. It’s not the first remote access app for the iOS. LogMeIn and TeamViewer are both available for iOS and Android, but Citrix has always been a favorite of mine due to their expanded multi-user options and their ability to provide support across multiple platforms.
This isn’t a review of GoToMyPC, though. Instead I want to talk about whether tools like this should be necessary. For sure, there are situations when this could be useful. Screen sharing during meetings is great and I can think of a dozen ways that a front facing camera, video chat, and a screen sharing application would be useful on a tablet.
But, if we keep connecting to our desktops instead of supporting new applications and developers producing app solutions, will we ever truly be able to take our entire workstation on the road with us? I talked about input devices the other day and with the right setup, a tablet PC offers a number of ways to enter data with less hunting and pecking and far more productivity such as Bluetooth keyboards, active digitizing pens and handwriting recognition. Similarly, the number of cloud tools like Box.net, Dropbox, and Soonr offer easy access to remote files and collaboration tools for multi-user editing. There are even inexpensive office-based applications like Quick Office or Documents to Go that allow you to edit a Microsoft Office and Google Docs files.
I’m not necessarily against the idea of a remote desktop. The convenience of it is fantastic, especially for those who go on the road a lot and want access to specific software or files that may not have made it into the cloud. And I can envision a solution that allows access to desktop applications and tools through a tablet ecosystem interface, possibly in the next iteration of Windows.
But, tablet PCs are designed for mobility and efficiency and with each passing month, we’re seeing new ideas and new ways of integrating those primary goals into apps and hardware alike. To me, the real age of the tablet will dawn when we no longer need software like GoToMyPC, but can do everything directly on our mobile devices.
What do you think? Do you use your tablet for productivity tasks and if so, where do you draw the line between tablet and desktop for different tasks? Was iPad2′s faster processor a game changer, or should iPad2 should have been more aptly named iPad1.1? (I think so)