On March 14, Apple announced Apple Remote Desktop for Mac OS X, which lets teachers, administrators and others remotely manage other Mac desktops anywhere on a local network, AirPort wireless network, or across the Internet.
Tom Goguen, Apple’s director of Server Software, told MacCentral that the product is targeted mainly to educators, but also has applications in the business world and, heck, even in homes.
“This is the first time we’ve brought this functionality to Mac OS X, though we’ve had a similar product [Apple Network Assistant] for previous versions of the Mac operating system,” he said. “Apple Remote Desktop is useful for both K-12 or higher ed institutions, but it can also be used in situations such as training centers out in the business world.”
For instance, it can be used to augment help desk activities inside businesses. Users can look at systems and configure directly over a network without being in front of the systems. This lets them solve problems quickly from their own desktop, Goguen said. Other professionals use Apple Remote Desktop to access systems remotely.
“I have a server that sits in my office,” Goguen said. “I can access it from home and do different things to it. Some work the opposite way; they have an Apple server sitting at home and can access it from work.”
There are even potential home uses. On a very basic level, you can access a Mac located upstairs from another one upstairs. But there are more complex uses for Apple Remote Desktop in the home.
“I’m the administrator for my parents’ computer, and they live across the country,” Goguen said. “In this type of environment, Apple Remote Desktop is sort of like a powerful version of chat, but can pull up a computer screen, as well.”
In the education setting, teachers can view students’ computer screens, perform group demonstrations and help individuals with real-time screen-sharing, text chat and the “request attention” command. System administrators can provide remote assistance, get comprehensive system profiles, reconfigure system settings and quickly and easily distribute software applications across hundreds of computers — all from one central location over both Ethernet and AirPort wireless networks.
In higher ed settings, Apple Remote Desktop can be used to train people on specific topics, such as language skills. The lecturer can see what’s happening on students’ screens, and even “push” what’s on her screen onto student screens.
“It’s a cool product because it gives educators one more tool in their arsenal that helps them be effective,” Goguen said. “And it’s really good in helping reduce administrative costs across the board.”
Goguen said that educators have wanted to see this technology on Mac OS X. It offers yet another set of features that you get by deploying the new operating system in an education environment, he added.
There are other products from third party companies that do similar things, such as
SynchronEyes. However, Apple Remote Desktop has some unique features, such as chat capabilities, Goguen said.
Apple Remote Desktop supports multiple levels of administrator access, each with its own password, providing a secure way for teachers or department-level administrators to assist users while restricting privileges for deleting items or changing system settings. Teachers and administrators can also remotely control computers by locking screens, starting, restarting, sleeping or waking computers on an individual basis or for an entire workgroup or computer lab.
Apple Remote Desktop is available now through the
Apple Store, at Apple’s retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of US$299 for the 10-client edition and $499 for the unlimited client version. Special
education pricing can be found online. Look for MacCentral’s forthcoming review of Apple Remote Desktop.
The administrative system of the product requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later. However, client systems can be running Mac OS 8.1 through Mac OS 10.1 or later.