One of the chief complaints of iPad users is that it’s lack of a physical keyboard and system file storage prevents the device from being much more than a wonder toy. Put that baby to bed, folks because Onlive (yeah the video game people) has released Onlive Desktop for iPad. It’s a free download in the AppStore, and with a free account your wonder toy will become a legitimate productivity device – maybe you’ll even be able to justify it as a tax write-off!
So what does Onlive do? In short, it turns your iPad into a Windows 7 touchscreen desktop. If you haven’t tried it before, some computers allow for touchscreen input, and Windows 7 is the framework that supports it. Since your iPad isn’t actually capable of supporting Windows 7, Onlive has to improvise. They do this by using your iPad as a virtual desktop. Instead of linking your iPad to your office PC, it’s being ported to Onlive’s servers where Windows 7 is running. The end result is a full featured desktop that allows you to work with Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel. Forget the limited options from Docs to Go and Pages. This is really Microsoft Office!
How will this work with my documents? Right now I’m not blown away. While the app is designed for your iPad, it currently doesn’t allow you to upload documents from your iPad. For the time being you’ll need to log in to the Onlive site and upload documents from your desktop. This isn’t a deal breaker, but how many times have you needed a document without any forewarning? For an attorney this is problematic especially if you need to edit a contract in a hurry as the deal changes. Then again, those type of attorneys probably don’t depend solely on their iPad in high-pressure situations.
As for fit and finish? I don’t find it very necessary to go into detail on how a Microsoft Office program works. That in and of itself is a testament to what has been accomplished in this app. Your finger becomes the mouse. Files open with a tap instead of a mouse click. Hold down your finger for the right click options. Click on text to edit. Ya’ll get the idea. It is a Windows 7 PC without the mouse, or the PC for that matter.
Overall I’m digging the potential of this app. It currently comes with 2 free gigs of cloud storage. Simply upload the files to your documents folder at the Onlive site, and they’ll instantly be synced to your iPad. There is no delay in opening files unlike that of every other virtual desktop app I’ve ever used. Credit that pleasantry to a company made famous for video game streaming where lag might as well be a four letter word. I have noticed that from time to time the Onlive server is full, resulting in a popup telling you that you’re being placed in que. Maybe that’s a result of new demand from the app’s launch, and not a common occurrence. We’ll see.
As for how I’ll incorporate this gem into my practice? I’ll likely be kissing Apple’s Pages app to the curb, along with Splashtop Streamer which gets me to my desktop. Onlive effectively combines these too into a better product. If I can drop my Dropbox file into the app that would be awesome. I think that I could effectively backup my office to Onlive in conjunction with Dropbox, and have my work sync across the board. That’s an experiment for another time.
This app is gaining ground with the Bluetooth keyboard fans as it turns your iPad into a robust little computer instead of an iPad with a keyboard that still requires a ton of finger presses to function. Keyboard or not, this app is definitely my choice for the most significant leap in functionality of the iPad. Laggy virtual desktops, your move!