We’ve all had those moments. You’re away from your computer with only an iPhone or iPad in hand and desperately need to access a file that’s only available on the computer that’s temporarily out of reach. What to do? LogMeIn, Inc. has a solution, offering its LogMeIn Ignition universal app that, along with a free companion application for your PC or Mac, will let you access and control your computer from anywhere through your iPhone or iPad. Its price tag may feel a bit high to some at $29.99, but we’ve found the app to be well worth it with a only a few minor issues.
Directly control your Mac or PC, all your programs and all your files – like that important presentation for your boss or that application that only exists on your work computer – with a simple touch.
LogMeIn Ignition for iPhone and iPad lets you remotely access one or more computers anywhere, anytime. So you never have to worry about leaving anything behind.
In the app’s description, LogMeIn provides guidance on how to get started:
- Create a free account at LogMeIn.com
- Download LogMeIn Free software to your PC/Mac
- Purchase LogMeIn Ignition from the App Store
- Log in from your Apple device to access your computer
To be honest, we were a little irked at the need to create an account at LogMeIn.com. While a basic LogMeIn account is free and is all you need to use the LogMeIn Ignition app, the company also offers a Pro account that costs $69.95 per year and offers additional features like remote-to-local printing, file sharing, and more (there’s a handy chart comparing the Free and Pro accounts here). Creating an account allows LogMeIn a way to track users and work to up-sell you to a Pro account since you are automatically opted in to receive emails from the company. While we feel this isn’t entirely necessary, it does serve to add an additional layer of security to the app since you must sign in to your LogMeIn account to access your computer. You can choose to opt out of promotional and other emails in your Account settings on the LogMeIn site, so this negative aspect can be addressed easily.
We installed the required companion application on a Mac. LogMeIn provides good instructions to walk you through the process.
Once you’ve set up the application on your computer, you can then access it through your iPad or iPhone. First, you must sign in to your LogMeIn account. You can choose to have the app remember your log-in credentials so you don’t need to enter them each time.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a list of all of the computers on which the companion application has been installed and associated with your LogMeIn account.
Tapping on the desired computer brings up a log-in dialogue where you enter your computer’s administrative name and password.
After this, you’ll see a handy navigation tips screen as the app establishes the connection to your computer. It describes that you can pinch to zoom in and out, pan around using one finger, and more.
Once the link has been established, your computer’s desktop will appear on your device’s screen and a small window will appear on your computer indicating that it is currently being remotely controlled by someone. You can opt to turn off this message if you’d like.
On the iPad, a small virtual mouse appears on the screen so you can click on items. The virtual mouse even has a right button that can be clicked to bring up contextual menus. Using the mouse takes a little getting used to – it’s offset from where the cursor actually is so your finger doesn’t obscure your view of it. However, it becomes second nature to use this mouse set-up after a short time using the app.
There are some controls at the bottom of the screen in the app that will show and hide the keyboard, show keyboard combination commands (command + tab and command + ` on a Mac to switch between applications and windows), and more. There is also a settings button here that provides options on color quality, screen resolution, network speed, and more. The last control here ends the connection between your iPhone/iPad and your computer.
As promised in the app’s description, you can completely control your computer through your iPad or iPhone as if you were sitting in front of it. So, you can easily open your email application, find that document you forgot to forward to someone, attach it to an email and send it on its way. Or you can find that photo of your son you forgot to load onto your iPhone to show your Great Aunt Hilda. You get the picture.
The only limitation we saw was that you can’t hear any audio on your iPhone or iPad from music or video played on the computer. When it comes how quickly your computer responds through LogMeIn Ignition, we found that this really depends on the type and quality of your internet connection (and on the quality of your computer’s connection within your home as well). As expected, we found there to be some choppiness and lag when connecting over AT&T’s 3G network where we had two or three bars of signal strength and less lag when we were on a solid Wi-Fi network in a coffee shop.
Given the iPad’s larger screen, it is far easier to navigate your computer on this device compared to the iPhone with its smaller screen. But, it can be invaluable to be able to access your computer through nothing more than an iPhone when you’re away from home.
In terms of reliability, LogMeIn Ignition worked solidly every time we used it from any Wi-Fi hotspot or over AT&T’s cellular network. We even used it while on our home Wi-Fi network to control a computer a few feet away in another room. You must ensure that your computer is on, of course, and that the LogMeIn companion application is running on your Mac or PC or else the app won’t be able to connect. We set the application to automatically start every time our Mac boots up to ensure we wouldn’t forget to start it when leaving the house.
At $29.99, LogMeIn Ignition is definitely not cheap but its universal format makes it a good value for those who own both an iPhone and an iPad and its functionality and reliability are stellar. If you even think that you’ll need to someday access your computer through your iPhone or iPad while you’re away from home, LogMeIn Ignition is a fantastic choice.