I've been using Screens VNC since it first launched and year after year, update after update Edovia keeps making it cleaner, quicker, and just plain better. Such is absolutely the case with Screens VNC 3.0 for Mac which launched today in both the Mac App Store and on Edovia's website. VNC (Virtual Network Computing), if you're not familiar with it, allows you to view and access a remote computer from your current computer. That means, with Screens VNC, you can be sitting by the pool with your MacBook Air and connect to the Windows machine at the office or the Linux server at the data center, see the screen, and use it almost as if you were standing in front of it. All your computers are simply available to you everywhere. So what makes Screens VNC so good, and Screens VNC 3.0 in particular so much better?
First is the redesign. Don't let looks fool you, design is all about usability and experience and while I loved the old wooden and metal looks of Screens past, the new design, while not exactly iOS 7-like, and not encumbered with transparency and depth, does bring a ton of deference and clarity. In windowed view there still a lot of chrome at the top but the rest of the content is just that, content, edge to edge. This is sort of the way I hope Apple tackles translating iOS 7 to OS X 10.10, in spirit more than in pixel.
Second is the re-write. Edovia started from scratch and rebuilt the whole app. That's made a difference in performance. Snappy is a word utterly overused, but utterly appropriate here as well. It may well be only a few seconds or fractions thereof, but it adds up.
As much as performance has improved with Screens VNC 3.0 for Mac, so to has convenience, and in lots of ways large and small. You can still sync your connections over iCloud, if you get the Mac App Store version, and you can still connect remotely, if you use the free Screen Connect utility. But now you can also quickly re-launch recent connections by clicking and holding down on the Screens icon in the Dock. That's a real time-saver when you close the window only to realize you had a couple more things to do. And then a couple more after that.
There are also new key mappings for system keyboard shortcuts. It lets Screens VNC 3.0 for Mac control a remote computer even through the security sandbox, which is very, very clever.
What quibbles I have are small. I could do without the glow shadows in the Library Window and, while there's a very witty HAL-inspired dialog that informs you you can't connect to the computer you're already on, I'd rather just have that computer hidden so I don't waste precious moments doing it by accident. Also, Screens just happens to work the way my brain expects it to work, both on iOS and OS X. If that's true for you as well, you'll likely have just as good an experience as I do. If not, if you expect or prefer different choices and behavior, then you'll likely appreciate something else more, up to and including an enterprise-style solution.
Overall, Screens VNC 3.0 for Mac isn't as much a change than it is an improvement. Yes, it's redesigned, yes, it's rebuilt, yes Edovia re-crafted it from pixel to bit, but the focus and purpose has remained exactly the same. It's a simple, easy, delightful way to connect to all of your other computers from your Mac and I couldn't recommend it more even if it served me Scotch and coffee every time I launched it.
You can buy Screens VNC 3.0 now on the Mac App Store or download a free demo from Edovia's website. You can also buy it outright from the Edovia website but you won't get the iCloud sync that Apple keeps exclusive to the Mac App Store version.
I also use and recommend Screens VNC for iOS:
- $19.99 - Download now
Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.