Quick Look: Screens 4 for iPad 

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It’s been a little less than a year since I last wrote about Screens. The purpose of the app hasn’t changed: it’s still a VNC app for remotely connecting to a Mac or PC from an iOS device. But there are a few specific features released in Screens 4, which is a free update to all existing users, that are so tasty that I just have to talk about them.

Curtains for you (well, for anyone really)

One of the coolest new features is Curtain mode. I really like this idea for providing a little bit of extra privacy when I’m remotely connecting to my own machine. I haven’t had the need for this feature very often, but I’m really impressed with the implementation. Sometimes you want to connect remotely to a machine, but have that session remain private. If you want to grab some files from your machine quickly without providing access to anyone who might be near the actual computer, Curtain mode is a great way to go about this. When activated, this pulls a curtain over the screen of the machine you’re connecting to, disabling all of the local controls and also blocking view of the monitor with a gigantic padlock. You can set specific remote sessions to always launch right into Curtain mode, so if you frequently need to VNC into a computer that’s in a very public location, this is a great way to go about it.

Split View support

Another awesome feature is multitasking support, which has some real added benefits in a remote desktop app. If you’re copying a number of pictures over into an email, working with Screens in Split View alongside another app is a real time saver. Not only can you copy bits of text over, but you can share the clipboard back and forth across your iOS device and desktop computer. The screen is definitely smaller in Split View, even on the iPad Pro, but it helps that you can pinch to zoom into the desktop UI.

1Password Extension (a bit buggy)

1Password has an excellent extension for helping you insert your passwords into different iOS apps, but if I understand the Screens 4 release notes properly, I should be able to use 1Password remotely to provide passwords to desktop computers where I don’t have 1Password at all. This is the case for my Windows 10 machine, since I only own iOS and OS X versions of the app. Being able to VNC into the Windows machine to type out complex 26-digit passwords would be amazing. I’ve wanted a web-accessible version of 1Password for this purpose, but Screens may be the answer for me.

Unfortunately I seem to be having an issue with the 1Password extension’s integration. At this time I’m only able to see a single login from my primary vault, although I can see all the logins from my secondary vault. I have a feeling this is just a launch bug (which I’ll be reporting soon), and I’m really looking forward to making more use of this feature soon.

I’m quite delighted with this update to Screens. It’s an immensely useful tool for accessing my Mac and PC remotely, and it’s made even more in v4 because of how it embraces the latest and greatest iOS 9 features. For those of you who’d like to work more on the iPad, but still need a Mac or PC for occasional tasks, then Screens 4 would be a great addition to your toolkit.

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