This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2008-12-29 at 12:37 p.m.
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LogMeIn's Ignition for iPhone Provides Sleek Remote Access

by Glenn Fleishman

LogMeIn [1] is the first service I recommend for those without MobileMe accounts who want to establish remote screen connections to computers under their control. The LogMeIn Free [2] service, available for Mac OS X and Windows, enables a Web browser-based remote control session that's better than VNC and Leopard's built-in screen sharing. The company, also called LogMeIn, has now built their proprietary remote access technology into Ignition [3], an app for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Ignition first connects to a LogMeIn account where you've registered computers under your control, and after that you can connect to any available computer from a list of machines.

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Once you connect, the remote computer's screen is shrunk to fit the iPhone or iPod touch's screen, and pinching and expanding works just like with photographs.

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In the default mode, you drag the screen under a fixed mouse pointer in the middle of the screen, and tap to indicate a mouse click. That behavior can be switched to perform mouse-like dragging instead. Separate controls let you bring up a keyboard or use Mac OS X's application-switching Command-Tab shortcut.

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At $29.99, Ignition's price might seem steep, especially compared with free alternatives. But it's worth the price. I've tried several of the other VNC-based iPhone remote access apps, including Jaadu VNC [8] ($24.99), which was previously my best-of-breed choice.

Ignition beats Jaadu VNC and others by pairing with LogMeIn's centralized registration and connection system. When you install LogMeIn on a computer, the system registers itself with LogMeIn's servers, and uses a variety of network address translation (NAT) techniques to set up remote sessions. Ignition ties into that centralize infrastructure, where Jaadu relies on a standard VNC setup, which typically requires more work.

I tested Ignition's remote control capabilities over a variety of networks and was happy with the results. When visiting my parents in Port Townsend recently, I was able to demo the program to my dad with a few taps and clicks, and then pull up a piece of information I'd left on my computer back in Seattle by typing into Yojimbo.

I'll make my usual plaint here: If Apple would simply add the necessary Bluetooth HID profile to allow a keyboard and mouse to pair with an iPhone or iPod touch, a program like Ignition and a few other utilities would enable many travelers to leave their laptops behind while still having full access to remote machines.