Let’s face it, no one enjoys contacting their IT department at work. By the time that call comes it is usually preceded by a lengthy bout of frustration, swearing and pounding of fists. While it used to just be your PC or Mac giving you fits, now you are probably just as exhausted trying to get your new smartphone to work properly. Add to the fact that you may be miles — if not an entire continent! — away in today’s global work environment and your aggravations multiply ten fold. At the end of the day you just want the @#$%! thing to work.
As more and more people bring smartphones into their lives, these mini-computers that surf the web, check email and even make a phone call now and again become our lifelines for both work and personal business. If you are lucky enough to use one of these devices — be it BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Symbian, or Windows Phone — you probably cannot imagine going back to when you did not have this convergence of functions with you at all times.
But what happens when you do run into problems? It will always occur when you’re traveling or during the most important meeting ever scheduled. One tool that I’ve been using lately could very well be the thing you need. It’s called LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile, and it lets you support and manage smartphones remotely right from your computer. It doesn’t matter if the person having a problem is in the next room or on the other side of the globe. You can remote into their device and fix the problem, saving them from lengthy aggravation and (hopefully) leaving them once again loving their smartphone of choice.
Interested? Let’s take a closer look at a great remote management tool for mobile users.
Now, you’ve probably heard of LogMeIn before. In fact, quite a few members of the Gear Diary team (especially Dan!) are fans of LogMeIn — specifically the Ignition application for iPhones. That app lets you remote into your PC or Mac directly from your iPhone. LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile does the opposite. It lets you remote into your phone from your computer!
LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile provides full remote control support for Windows Phones, Symbian and BlackBerry devices. iPhone support is currently limited to remotely setting up enterprise, or company, email. Unfortunately, Apple won’t currently allow the LogMeIn applet to be installed to remotely access any processes. Android fans should note that LogMeIn announced Rescue+Mobile support in February, and showed off a demo at this year’s Mobile World Congress (available exclusively to device and service providers for pre-deployment on Android-based devices).
LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile Android Demo at Mobile World Congress
What’s great about this method is that you don’t need to install any bloated software on your PC or Mac. It’s all managed from a web-based console. That means, as long as you have an account license from LogMeIn, you can access the web console from any PC or Mac that has internet access. Here’s a shot of the web console below:
[click image above to enlarge]
You can connect to the smartphone by initiating a new session. This can be done by sending the individual an email SMS, or by providing them with browser link. These methods will allow them to install an applet that will allow you to remotely view their phone’s settings — and even control the device should you need to update any settings or even install software to the device.
A unique PIN code is generated for each support session. The smartphone user will enter this PIN to establish a connection to the support session. As the photo below shows, the smartphone user is prompted to allow you to connect before you can remotely control the device.
Once they allow you ‘in’ they will be able to see what you are doing, and even chat with you via the support session. Once given control, either you or the device user can easily move through the device screens, options and settings.
So when does this kind of support come in handy? When you are in the U.S. and the person running into a problem is working in another country, you’ll be able to easily see exactly what problem they’re experiencing and help get them back in running much faster than if you were simply guessing or trying to walk through the situation simply over the phone. But, that’s not all. LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile is also great for training. You can take screen captures from devices — and even record sessions in video for training. Need to update software or remotely deploy a specific application to the device? You can do that as well via LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile’s file sharing feature.
The file-management feature, shown below, gives you access to the device’s files. You’ll be able to send files and applications from your desktop over to the handheld. While this feature won’t be a replacement for an enterprise solution like the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or Microsoft Device Manager (MDM), it can come in handy when you need send a file to a specific device — like a .cab file to a Windows Phone.
Here’s a sample shot seen while remoting into my own BlackBerry 9700. The LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile simulator will show exactly what the user will see as you view or remotely control their device.
To make things easy, LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile will put a ‘rescue’ icon on their device to help initiate a support session. You can send this to devices on a case-by-case basis, or even pre-deploy the application to devices. Large companies may go down this path and simply ‘push’ the rescue application to their devices via BES or MDM.
You can remotely set up enterprise email directly on the phone, if needed. This feature by itself can make an IT department breathe a sigh of relief when assisting their workforce to receive company email on their shiny new phone.
The solution isn’t without challenges. During extensive use you may find that sessions may stop or be interrupted, causing you to have to reconnect or even initiate a new session with the user. Folks who are on CDMA networks like Sprint or Verizon in the U.S., should also plan on not trying to be using the phone while a Rescue+Mobile session is in progress. I know, you’re probably sick of hearing it from all the commercials but you can’t do voice & data simultaneously on a CDMA network – so plan on calling from a different line if your getting remote assistance via LogMeIn Rescue+Mobile.
Pricing will depend on how many technician/administrator licenses you require. A very positive note on this, however, is that the licenses are based on concurrent users. This means, for example, if you purchase 10 licenses, you can have as many people as you want set up for administrator or technician roles — but you ‘max out’ when you have 10 of them on at the same time (likely a rarity). That said, large organizations will want to gauge how many people they think they’ll need able to remote into devices simultaneously. More info on pricing can be found on LogMeIn’s web site. Even better news is that a free trial is offered so you can put Rescue+Mobile to the test to see if it meets your needs.
After putting Rescue+Mobile through its paces, I’ve found it to be a great tool at work to help manage mobile device issues for teams that are scattered across the globe. Whether it’s been simply helping someone set up their brand new smartphone minutes after they’ve picked it up, or working resolving an error that’s costing the device user valuable time in productivity, Rescue+Mobile has come through time and again to quickly view and resolve the problem. It’s been such a help, that we’ve now begun training our helpdesk team on using Rescue+Mobile. While it is geared for small, medium and large business users it is certainly something worth a look for anyone trying to get mobile device management and support under control.
It may even save you — and your team — from a few of those hair-pulling phone calls…maybe