With a stable Internet connection, we need not be physically present in order to control a computer, access its files and run applications. By making use of VNC (or Virtual Network Computing) technology, it’s possible to remote control not just other OS X machines with your Mac but other platforms too, such as Windows or Linux. However, VNC has never been the most seamless or intuitive software for non-geeks to get started with and perhaps this is has held it back from being adopted by the average user – which is where iTeleport comes in.
Having already garnered a strong reputation with a superb iOS app, users were clamouring for iTeleport to make a proper Mac app and thankfully the iTeleport team stepped up, bringing many of the user-friendly innovations from iOS to OS X. Let’s take a look at the resulting application.
Without wishing to overstate the difficulty of configuring a typical VNC setup (it’s not too daunting to the experienced computer user), there is certainly a learning curve involved, doubly so if you wish to access a computer which does not reside on your local network.
One of iTeleport’s most compelling features is that the whole process is sidestepped by making use of a Gmail account. Naturally, some users will balk at the thought of handing over their main Gmail account and those concerned with privacy can either create a new Gmail account used specifically for iTeleport (with a unique password) or forgo the entire Gmail configuration process and perform the setup manually.
For the purposes of this review, I decided to focus on using iTeleport to allow my MacBook Pro (the client) to connect to an older MacBook (the host), which my partner owns, which should prove useful next time I’m called upon to troubleshoot a computer issue.
On the host MacBook, I downloaded the free iTeleport Connect app from the developers website and installed it into my partner’s Applications Folder. On launch, the following screen was presented, requiring a Gmail address and password.
iTeleport will actually connect to any computer using the standard VNC protocol and the iTeleport Connect app is merely a shortcut to save non-power users any setup headaches
This done, it’s time to switch computers and move to the client computer, my MacBook Pro. After downloading iTeleport from the Mac App Store, the first launch brings up the following login screen from which one enters the relevant Gmail username and password.
With iTelport Connect running on the host MacBook which I wished to control, I fired up iTeleport: VNC on my own Mac and, following the entering of my Gmail details, was presented with the above screen which shows a list of available machines. Selecting a machine brings up the twirling portal graphic which will be familiar to those with experience of the iOS app and I was immediately transported into the MacBook.
Once control was taken of the desired Mac, I found the responsiveness to be excellent over my Airport Extreme-powered local WiFi network, even in an old cottage with very thick stone walls. Indeed, the lack of lag gave a performance which was very similar in use to running a virtual machine, with the aid of VMWare Fusion.
Providing your Mac has a multitouch trackpad, the iTeleport screen can be pinched and pulled to resize and all data is sent encrypted to provide the required level of security which one demands in such applications. The one drawback to iTeleport is that, while applications can be fully controlled, the audio from the host machine will not be heard on the client Mac. I believe that this is due to limitations within the VNC standard and is not unique to iTeleport, but such an ability would certainly have been the icing on the cake of this great app.
Beyond The Basics
Of course, while using iTeleport to control two Macs is very useful indeed, many users will wish to take control of a Windows or Linux box using their Mac, thus allowing one to get work done while remaining in the comfy confines of Mac OS X. Unfortunately, my only dedicated Linux machine was in need of repair while writing this article but I did have the opportunity to put iTeleport through its paces by controlling a PC running Windows 7 and found iTeleport to offer just as responsive, reliable and useful user experience when used between the two platforms.
iTeleport: VNC doesn’t care if you’re controlling a computer a few feet away or on the other side of the world, as long as there’s an Internet connection
Indeed, while there may arguably be more affordable and more flexible options out there for power users and network ninjas, I found that iTeleport offered the most consistent ‘Mac-like’ user experience, whatever I threw at it, whether on a local network or accessing my Mac from a friend’s house. The implications of this are obvious and I would feel comfortable relying on the software for ‘mission-critical’ tasks like troubleshooting friends and family’s computers and performing work tasks remotely. It is this very robustness and reliability which ensures that iTeleport be considered an indispensable app and one which I envision myself reaching for regularly.
iTeleport successfully reinvents the VNC wheel by offering a seamless, intuitive and graphically pleasing solution to remote controlling computers and, while I may not be network-savvy enough to confidently report on more advanced features, I can nonetheless confirm that the software does everything one could ask of it from a general user’s standpoint.
With its dedication to simplicity, reliability and offering a uniquely intuitive user experience, the iTeleport team have created a compelling system of remote control with iOS and Mac apps which demand closer attention from those who feel the need to access their computer remotely.
iTeleport: VNC for Mac is the most responsive, most slick and easiest to set up VNC application I've yet come across and seems set to repeat the success of its iOS siblings. If you need to remote control a computer, you would do well to look into iTeleport's various products.9