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Posts tagged with "screens"

iPad Pro and OS X with Screens

Eddie Vassallo, writing on the Entropy blog on using the iPad Pro in combination with a Mac mini via VNC:

The beauty of a single machine fully dedicated to the iPad Pro is that we always have a full OS X instance at the ready for anything that arises - from exporting and compiling app builds to transcoding video, to downloading and uploading large files. Heck, we've even found it useful for firing up a desktop instance of Chrome when pesky sites misbehave on mobile Safari. It has truly filled the gap for any desktop-class workflows we require (that have not already been fulfilled with an iOS App or Web-based method).

Before switching to the iPad as my only computer and before iOS 9 multitasking (I would say between 2011 and 2014), this is also what I did. I set up a personal mini at Macminicolo (a fine company which also hosts this very website) and relied on Edovia's excellent Screens app to access desktop apps like iTunes and Chrome. I also used to keep the mini always running for Hazel rules (here's an archive of posts about it) and other desktop automation. I do most of this stuff directly on iOS now, but if you need a Mac for some key tasks, Screens with iOS multitasking sounds better than ever.

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Screens 3 for Mac Review

Since 2010, I’ve been using Edovia’s Screens for all my VNC needs: an elegant client with a polished interface and just the right amount of options, I’ve always been a fan of Edovia’s focus on elegance and simplicity combined with touch controls.

The iOS app has changed quite a bit over the years: notably, with iOS 7 Edovia took the opportunity to completely redesign Screens with a cleaner UI and updated gestures, adding on-disconnect actions, hot corners, and trackpad mode with subsequent updates that continued to strike a good balance between feature additions and intuitiveness. I don’t need to access dozens of Macs remotely every day – I only log into my local MacBook Air (when I’m in bed or in another room) and my remote Mac mini – but I know that Screens for iOS has everything I need.

Screens 3 is Edovia’s latest update to their Mac client, originally released in 2011. A free update for existing Screens 2 customers, Screens 3 is available both on Edovia’s website and the Mac App Store at $34.99, but only the Mac App Store version can offer iCloud sync across devices; because of this limitation, I recommend buying Screens from the Mac App Store.

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Screens 3.2 Adds Trackpad Mode For VNC Control

Edovia's Screens, my favorite VNC app for iOS, has been updated to version 3.2, which, among other minor additions and improvements, brings a new mode to control a computer's screen using an iOS device like a regular trackpad. As people who have been using Screens since the first version may know, this is a big change for the app, and I'm glad that Edovia integrated it perfectly with Screens.

It used to be that Screens could only control a computer not by letting you drag the cursor around as other VNC apps do, but by letting you tap to click and move the cursor. In version 3.2, there's an optional Trackpad Mode in the app's settings that allows you to activate the traditional behavior of VNC clients: your finger becomes the cursor as you move it on the screen and taps still trigger mouse clicks. You can control the cursor on any area of the screen (including the gray background), and, in my tests, cursor movements have been quick and smooth both on a local WiFi network and when connected to a remote Mac mini.

While I'm a fan of Screens' gestures, I've always wished for an option to enable trackpad mode for precision controls. Before today's update, I would find myself constantly zooming in and out in Screens to tap small buttons or menu items, whereas trackpad mode enables better precision controls that work well in the app – all while retaining gestures.

Screens 3 remains a fantastic VNC client for iOS 7 – the best in my opinion. The app is Universal, syncs with iCloud (now comes with iCloud Keychain support too), has full hardware keyboard support, and it can send/receive pasteboards and grab a screenshot of a remote computer. Most VNC apps for iOS tend to be poorly designed and difficult to master or navigate in their Preferences; Screens is easy to use, it's packed with features (it even has URL schemes), and it puts the focus on – as the app's name implies – your computers' screens.

Screens 3.2 is available on the App Store.


Screens 2.0 Review

I've always been a huge fan of Edovia's take on VNC, Screens. Originally released in late 2010 for the iPad, Screens was also ported to the iPhone and later the Mac, allowing iOS and OS X users to connect to remote machines using standard VNC protocols (Lion logins are also supported by Screens), as well as Edovia's own ScreensConnect utility to assign a unique hostname to computers behind networks that allow for outside access. To get an overview of Screens, you can take a look at some of your previous coverage.

Today Edovia is releasing a series of major updates to Screens for iOS and Mac, as well as ScreensConnect, which is now available at screensconnect.com to create a unique Screens ID for your Mac or Windows machine. I have been able to test the new Screens suite prior to its App Store release, and it's still my favorite utility to quickly access my remote Mac mini, iMac, or MacBooks (Air and Pro) on my local office network. With its touch-driven UI, ease of use, and wide availability across devices (Mac, iPhone, and iPad for the Screens client; Windows and OS X for the desktop ScreensConnect utility), Screens is one of the most accessible VNC apps available on the App Store.

Since its release, I've always liked two things about Screens: touch controls and zero configuration. Once you download Screens, you'll be able to search for computers that are advertising their screen sharing capabilities on a local network (on a Mac, make sure Screen Sharing is active under System Preferences -> Sharing), or add a machine that's been configured to be reached using ScreensConnect. In the "Nearby & remote computers" window (a popover on the Mac), you'll see computers from your local network, as well as those with an antenna icon next to them, indicating that they accept remote connections through ScreensConnect. The beauty of ScreensConnect, which is a free utility, is that it should make your computer accessible from outside your local network with literally no configuration, as the software takes care of (most) router settings and establishes a secure connection between a remote computer and Screens. As explained from the app's Help section:

We could bore you with technical mumbo-jumbo but in a nutshell, Screens Connect monitors network changes, configures your router and sends this information on our server through a SSL encrypted connection so that Screens knows were your computer is and connect to it.

A note on ScreensConnect: whilst most modern routers support UPnP and NAT-PMP (required by Screens' remote connection), some do not, so make sure you have a compatible model before considering Edovia's Screens for its ScreensConnect functionality alone. I, for one, got ScreensConnect working just fine with my Fastweb connection in Italy (through Apple's AirPort Extreme), as well as Telecom's Alice (through an AirPort Express). Performance, as usual, depends on your Internet connection, so don't expect ScreensConnect to magically improve speeds -- there's only so much smart connection scaling (from millions of colors to hundreds) can do.

Screens 2.0 comes with a new UI. Gone is the wooden texture of the previous versions, leaving room for a darker, more elegant background that will surely make your computer's desktops pop. Whilst the change in visual presentation is welcome, much more functional is iCloud integration in version 2.0, which now allows you to keep your stored screens in sync across devices -- and it's just not "sync", I was able to create a new screen on the Mac app, wait a few seconds, and see it coming up automatically on the iPhone and iPad, which were running Screens 2.0. Support for iCloud is fairly impressive and a godsend, because, honestly, adding the same screens over and over on multiple devices wasn't really a great experience.

Alongside bug fixes, improved security and performances, and better support for wake-on-lan, Screens 2.0 comes with some additional new features. When controlling a computer, for example, Screens now displays a unified bottom toolbar that collects a series of shortcuts -- including two types of keyboards, and an action button to grab a screenshot of the remote desktop (a new feature), disconnect, and open the Settings. On the iPad, this toolbar can be configured to become a swipe gesture area whilst in landscape mode, allowing you to associate a variety of commands to left or right swipes. The same app/Mac/window shortcuts can be configured with three and four finger gestures to perform directly on screen, and the selection here is very rich -- for instance, you'll be able to set up shortcuts to send the contents of your clipboard, or launch Mission Control.

Also new in Screens 2.0: you can reorganize screens in grid mode on the iPad, you can send the remote screen to an Apple TV using AirPlay Mirroring, and SSH Keys are now supported for SSH Tunneling. On the Mac, you won't obviously get the iOS version's custom keyboards and gesture support, but Screens 2.0 will support iCloud and auto-resume for ongoing connections.

With a new UI, better handling of remote connections, gestures, iCloud support, and a very intuitive touch-based VNC control system, Screens 2.0 is a fantastic update. ScreensConnect works as advertised, the iPad app benefits from the screen real-estate, and, overall, the app is very easy to use and configure. Screens, however, doesn't come cheap, as the iOS app (universal) and Mac app will set you back $50 when combined. If you're willing to pay for quality software and believe Screens' feature set is right for you (make sure your router can work with ScreensConnect!), I'd personally recommend starting with Screens 2.0 for iOS today. Read more


Control Multiple Macs with Teleport

I don't always use two Macs simultaneously, but when I do, either there's an Apple keynote or I'm trying new apps.

That's how I stumbled upon Teleport, a free OS X utility, last year when I needed to switch back and forth between MacBooks during an Apple keynote, and why I decided to take the app for a spin again now that's been updated for Lion. Teleport isn't new to Mac users -- in fact, it's been around since Tiger and it's probably the most popular app to control two Macs on the same local network. Now that version 1.1 is out with support for Lion and multi-touch gestures, I thought a fresh mention would be appropriate.

Teleport is extremely simple in what it does, although it uses some advanced technology to accomplish it: once installed in System Preferences, Teleport allows you to move your cursor (and keyboard) between multiple Macs. Teleport recognizes Macs "shared" on the same network, and through a system similar to Apple's "hot corners" and based on Bonjour, it lets you "teleport" the mouse across screens.

Shared Macs that have Teleport activated in the settings will show up with their respective desktops in the app's panel; you can arrange Macs placing them next to a main computer's screen so you'll remember how to switch displays, and configure options in a dedicated sub-menu. These options include handy things like "switch only if key is pressed" or "share pasteboard". In this latest version of Teleport you can assign a keyboard shortcut to switch to another Mac, and Lion's gestures are fully supported so you'll be able to perform three-finger swipes and other Mission Control trickery on a Mac running Lion.

When controlling my iMac through my MacBook Air's trackpad and keyboard, I was able to drag & drop files using Teleport, and have the contents of the pasteboard from my MacBook Air automatically synced on my iMac. There are several utilities to control how the pasteboard is shared and synced across local Macs, but Teleport manages to make the whole process "invisible" in a package that also happens to do much more.

For instance, Teleport supports encryption for file transfers, and you can read more about it on Abyssoft's website and the ReadMe file included in the download. Long story short: you can generate your own certificate to activate encryption and it's even easier if you already have a .Mac account. Also in Teleport's settings, you can enable a menubar item, bezel, and sound notifications. The sound effect is particularly neat when you switch between Macs, as it really gives you the sense of something "travelling" between two spaces (Teleport also displays a quick animation at the side of your screen). Control requests are also handled well between shared Macs, with options to "ask me if host can be trusted", "reject if host not already trusted" and "automatically accept". If you leave Teleport always running, when a shared Mac comes back online a red indicator will flash on the previously configured side of the screen.

Version 1.1 includes a few more features like:

  • Host specific options: you can define the switching and sharing options per host, to have different settings.
  • Propagated options: the options you set for a host also apply when coming back from it.
  • Full multi-screens support: all screens of shared Macs are now visible, so pairing a secondary screen is much easier than before.

Teleport isn't new, but it's nice to see the app working well on Lion with gestures and multiple displays. If you happen to control multiple Macs every once in a while, give Teleport a try. It's a free download (and make sure to donate if you really like it).


Screens for Mac Makes VNC Easy and Organized

I'm a big fan of Edovia's Screen VNC client for the iPhone and iPad. Whilst I still use LogMeIn when I need to access my computer's filesystem remotely and I enjoy the service's social features and network-recognition capabilities (when combined with Hamachi), my basic VNC needs can be easily satisfied with Screens, which provides a very intuitive interface to set up new computers, connect to them, and use them. I don't recall a single time I haven't used Screens at least once a day in the past few months to quickly connect to my iMac while I'm on the couch, and fire up some Spotify through the room. For quick connections, Screens is a great app -- it even works on 3G and remote Wi-Fi networks thanks to a companion desktop app that will make your Mac available outside your local network.

In my overview of the improved Screen Sharing app in OS X Lion, I detailed how Apple enhanced the system utility with new clipboard features, per-user login, and possibility of grabbing a screenshot of the connected machine. With Screens for Mac, released last week, Edovia offers an alternative to Apple's default Screen Sharing app that doesn't have new breakthrough functionalities, but dramatically improves the organization of your remote desktops, and gives you more control over what you're connecting to. Read more


Screens for iOS Now Lets You Log Into Lion Computers

Screens, Edovia's VNC client for the iPhone and iPad we've reviewed a couple of times on MacStories in the past, has been just updated to version 1.6 which, alongside a series of speed and performance improvements, brings full compatibility for machines running OS X Lion. With Mac OS X 10.7, Apple has changed a few things with VNC and remote user authentication, enabling features like Apple ID support and possibility of logging into a separate account while a machine is active on a different one.

The new Screens 1.6 allows you to log into a computer running Lion avoiding the additional login prompt you'd get when logging in with a VNC password (if you've tried VNC apps that haven't been updated for Lion, you should be familiar with the login prompt). Screens, in fact, has a new OS authentication method that, by logging into a machine with your OS account name and password, skips the VNC prompt altogether and directly takes you to your desktop, with whatever is on screen, just like with previous versions of the app on Snow Leopard. Current Screens users willing to connect to a Lion computer should switch to the new setting for an optimal experience (that is, unless you want an additional login dialog). Bug fixes aside, Screens 1.6 brings keyboard support for more languages, and Windows VNC servers.

You can download Screens at $19.99 on the App Store. Read more


Screens 1.5 Now Available: Still The Best VNC Client for iOS

When I first reviewed Screens, a universal VNC client for iOS by Edovia, I was impressed by the speed and elegance of the app, which made it super-simple to connect to Windows PCs or Macs on a local network, as well as remote computers powered by a global dynamic hostname. Together with that, Edovia's Screens proved that a VNC client for iPhone or iPad didn't need to completely mimic the functionality of a desktop computer: rather than putting a mouse cursor on screen, the app allowed you to turn a computer's screen into a multi-touch based experience as if it was built for iOS in the first place. With Screens, you don't move a cursor like in most VNC clients: you touch the computer's windows and apps. With gorgeous animations, responsive loading times and a free service called Screens Connect to automatically and easily log into a remote machine without having to fiddle with IP addresses and router ports, Screens managed to become the most popular VNC app for iOS, and one of my favorites overall.

Months after the original release, Screens receives today a major update to version 1.5, which I had the pleasure to beta test and play with for the last couple of weeks. Screens 1.5 introduces a lot of optimizations to the underlying VNC engine to make connections faster, more stable and, based on my tests, more responsive with both PCs and Macs. Minor bug fixes and improvements aside, Screens 1.5 fixes an issue that caused a crash when disconnecting from a computer, and enhances responsiveness with several Windows VNC servers. As far as connecting to a remote computer goes, Screens now displays the Screens Connect status in the Settings, so you can instantly know whether your computer is remotely accessible or not. However, connecting to a machine on your local network is as easy as before -- Screens automatically recognizes computers with screen sharing enabled, and all you'll have to do is enter a password and choose a nickname.

Screens 1.5 also brings a new icon, a revamped UI and a new Grid View on the iPad that will come in handy for those who manage a lot of different computers; if you're concerned about privacy, Screens now enables you to choose whether or not you want the app to grab a screenshot of your desktop upon disconnecting. If you don't want to have "real" previews in Screens' dashboard, a default image will be used. In the Settings, you can also set a computer to open in fullscreen mode, and you can toggle modes (full, partial, off) with a three-finger tap. It works really well.

Screens 1.5 is an important update to a great VNC client for iOS that keeps getting better with lots of options, and a fast engine. The developers didn't sacrifice usability for options, though, as the app is still very easy to use and provides a simple way to add, modify and delete computers. The update is propagating now in iTunes, and you get the app here at $19.99. Highly recommended. Read more


Apple Investing In Toshiba’s New Plant for iPhone Displays

According to a report by Japanese newspaper Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Apple is planning to invest in Toshiba's new LCD plant in the Ishikawa Prefecture, central Japan, for the manufacturing of iPhone displays. The report, relayed by MarketWatch, claims that Apple has picked Toshiba as the sole Japanese supplier for iPhone LCDs, effectively ceasing talks with Sharp over an investment in their facility.

The report said that Sharp was no longer a candidate for Apple's investment. Sharp said in a statement released Wednesday that the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun report "contradicts the facts."

A spokesman for Toshiba's LCD display unit declined to comment.

After Apple's Q1 earnings call in January, Apple COO Tim Cook told the press and analysts that the company had entered a $3.9 billion component supply deal in a key area that was "an absolutely fantastic use of Apple’s cash". Many speculated that, after flash storage supply deals and agreements, Apple identified high-resolution LCD displays as a key factor to iOS' devices manufacturing process. Back then, speculation and Tim Cook's own words suggested that Apple had entered a deal with three manufacturers, including Toshiba and Sharp. A month before the the Q1 financial results, Apple was indeed rumored to be discussing with Toshiba an investment in a new $1.19 billion factory -- the same that Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun is mentioning today. But at the same time, several reports suggested that Apple was also considering a second investment in a $1.2 billion facility from Sharp -- with over $60 billion in cash, a double investment in LCD manufacturing wouldn't have surprised anyone. But today's report seems to confirm that the deal with Sharp hasn't gone through, implying that Toshiba has been chosen as the only Japanese manufacturer of iPhone LCD screens.

Apple's Q2 earnings call is scheduled later today at 5PM ET.