Google announced a while back that they had intent to release Chrome Remote Desktop for Android. However, as always with Google, they did not give a release date. Well, just a couple of days ago they finally released the Android App to the Google Play Store. The desktop version of Chrome Remote Desktop has been around for a while now, and has been a very functional, albeit minimal, remote desktop application. You simply find it within the Chrome Webstore, and install the app. From there, you connect your laptop, or desktop computer to the service, and keep Google Chrome running in the background. This service allows you to not only access your own computer via your Android device, but also allows other PC’s to do so. You can also access the computers of friends that provide you with a short key that grants you access. Once the connection is terminated, that key is reset.
However, let us focus on the Android app in this article.
The Chrome Remote Desktop app allows you to access your computer from anywhere on an Android phone or tablet. I have the Moto G running 4.4.2, and an older Samsung Galaxy Tab Plus 7” running 4.0.4. Both devices are fully supported. According to the Google Play Store page, it supports 4.0.x and up. That is good news for devices released in the last couple of years.
When you open the app, you aren’t going to be exposed to much in the way of features. There is the menu icon in the upper right, but when you tap it, you will see nothing but “Help & Feedback”. Below that, you will see your “My Computers” list for your Gmail account. Simply tap the computer you wish to access. From there, you rather quickly connect. I have noticed that if you are connected via WiFi on the phone/tablet (I am using my Moto G in this review and snapping screenshots), it feels rather speedy. The menu, as you can see in the image does not show much again. Just Ctrl-Alt-Del, Disconnect, and Help & Feedback…again. You also have a keyboard icon to bring up the device’s virtual keyboard. As you swipe your finger around, the mouse moves along rather fluidly. Even while I type this, it is keeping up rather well. That is pretty impressive when I never see this responsiveness in another Remote Desktop client that I enjoy using. If you pinch your fingers, you zoom in. Spread your fingers, you zoom out. Tapping your finger is like clicking the left mouse button. Holding your finger is like holding the left button on the mouse. To access the menu, tap with two fingers. Beyond what I have mentioned, that is actually ALL that there is regarding current functionality.
As for features? Not much. One feature that could make or break this app is the lack of file management. You can not easily grab a file on the remotely accessed computer and put that file instantly on your tablet or phone. However, this could be easily alleviated with the use of Google Drive on the computer. However, this just feels like an extra step that could put a lot of users off. Another feature missing is audio from the remotely accessed device. And since I am on the topic of missing features, how about some nitpicks here? If you zoom out of the screen all of the way, your view of the remotely accessed screen becomes pixelated. So much so that it is very difficult to read. I am sure you can clearly see that in the screenshot above.
This app really feels a bit to “minimalistic” for anything truly functional for even the casual user. At this point, I dare say it is more of a “proof of concept” style app from Google, than a true release. Of course, I am sure Google has every intent to roll out more features for Chrome Remote Desktop for Android as the weeks go by. It certainly has the potential. I’d say to go on and give it a whirl. It isn’t a very large app, and it is free. It is also rather stable. Could be a fun app to play with if you are bored.