Although similar free services are already offered by third parties, Google has launched a beta of its new Chrome Remote Desktop, an application that allows any two computers using a Chrome browser -- whether its via Windows, Linux, Mac and Chromebooks -- to connect with each other. Google said the goal of this beta release is to demonstrate the core Chrome Remoting technology and get feedback from users.
"This version enables users to share with or get access to another computer by providing a one-time authentication code," Google states in the release notes. "Access is given only to the specific person the user identifies for one time only, and the sharing session is fully secured."
The free service will come in handy for remote IT helpdesk situations. The helpdesk can use the Chrome Remote Desktop BETA to help another user either in the office or out in the field, while conversely a user can receive help by setting up a sharing session without leaving their desk. This could also be a great tool for managing a family member's computer in-house or remotely when facing technical issues (like I don't understand how to use this Facebook thing).
Establishing a connection is simple. After installing the app and granting Google permission to access the PC (on both ends), users are faced with two options: a button to share the computer, and a link to access a shared computer. When sharing, the app produces three sets of four numbers -- the connecting computer applies this code (without spaces!) in the access code entry field and hits "Connect." The app then verifies the access code and connects the two computers together.
Once established, the remote "administrator" has full control over the client's computer. The entire desktop appears within the administrator's Chrome browser, allowing him/her to gain access to the hard drive, type within a Skype window, change the client's wallpaper and more. There's some lag, but it's seemingly minimal after the first minute.
"Additional use cases such as being able to access your own computer remotely are coming soon," the company said.
Over on the Chromium developer group, Alpha (Jin-Chung) Lam explains how this connection works:
The protocol is something we designed and based on several Google technologies:
1. Bottom layer is p2p connection established by libjingle, this can be udp, tcp or relay through google. 2. We use PseudoTcp implementation in libjingle to provide reliable connection. 3. On top of that is SSL connection. 4. protobuf is used for structured data and framing. 5. Graphics is encoded using VP8.