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Google Now Allows You To Control Any Computer Using Android

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you've ever left an important document on your home or office computer, you know how frustrating it is trying to retrieve it. Now, with the help of Google, you're no longer stuck.

Yesterday, Google (GOOG - Get Report) released "Chrome Remote Desktop for Android" devices. It's an app you install on your Android smartphone or tablet that allows you full access to your home or office computer files through a Chrome browser.



The new app is free for Android phones and tablets and allows entry into computers running Microsoft (MSFT) Windows, as well as Apple's  (AAPL) OS X.

Users need to have the Chrome browser installed on your home and/or office computer. Next, you need to download, install and configure the Remote Desktop applet for the browser from Google's Chrome Store. The set-up includes providing a numerical "password" to allow access to that computer. In all, it should take less than three minutes to do all this.

For the record, there was extra software I needed to install when setting-up Google's Remote Desktop and the Chrome browser on a MacBook running OS X 10.7.5.

Once that's done, it's time to install the Android half of the deal. It's best done in advance when both the target PC and Android device are both connected to the same home/office Wi-fi network making it easy for both to find each other for their first encounter.

You need to download the Remote Control app to your Android phone or tablet - install it - allow it to find the computer running the Remote Desktop software - type in that numerical password and you're all set. You can set the system so you won't need to type in that password each time you need access.

We tested the Android app on the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone as well as a Nexus 7 tablet. The app works exactly as described, but I found two things to note. First, don't expect to do real work on the home/office/target computer using this app. The Android screen - even on a tablet - is a just too small to comfortably do much of anything on the desktop computer.

The other downside is navigation. Android's lack of a physical keyboard is the problem. You'll need to find the PC's cursor, drag it where you need it and double click the cursor to open the button/folder/file you want. There is  a pop-up Android keyboard to help (very slightly) but it's not the same as your PC's hardware. Plus, you quickly realize you're trying to navigate on a small touchscreen.

The app does allow remote access to your files when you're away from your computer. By using the app, you can find and send a file to another computer. If you're Android device allows it you can also print a document directly from your phone/tablet. 

Google promises a Remote Desktop for iOS app later this year.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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