Google's latest Android app lets you access the desktop of your work PC on your smartphone or tablet. The app, called Chrome Remote Desktop, isn't the first app to enable remote PC access on Android devices, but it is a solid new option that's easier to set up and use than most. It's compatible with Windows computers running Windows XP and above, and Mac computers running OS X 10.6 and above.
Remote desktop apps act as a direct portal back to your office machine, allowing you to remotely view and use your work computer directly on your mobile device. Desktop operating systems such as Windows 7 or Windows 8 weren't designed for use on a small smartphone screen, but if you really need to check a file or briefly run a program on the go, remote desktop access can be a lifesaver.
Using Chrome Remote Desktop for Android requires a bit of setup. If you don't already use Google's Chrome Web browser, you'll have to install it first. Next, install the Chrome Remote Desktop extension in your Chrome browser; this extension allows your computer to communicate with your mobile device. When you launch the extension in your browser, locate the section titled My Computers and click Enable Remote Connections. Then simply type in a six-digit PIN and hit enter. Unlike other remote desktop apps, which require you to root around in your computer's settings to enable remote access, Chrome Remote Desktop does all the work for you.
Once that's finished, install the Chrome Remote Desktop app on your phone or mobile device, then launch it, select the computer you wish to connect to and type in your newly created PIN. Your Windows, Mac or Chromebook desktop will appear on the display of your mobile device. The app lets you view and manipulate files, and even run desktop programs such as Photoshop, right from your phone or tablet. You can also share your desktop with other users by enabling remote access for employees or coworkers.
If you prefer iOS to Android, you'll have to hold out a little longer for the Chrome Remote Desktop app. Google said in a blog post that the iPhone- and iPad-compatible version will be released "later this year."