Remote access is the ability to see what’s happening on a device without the option to interact with it. This might also mean access to the file system and content stored on the device. Remote control, on the other hand, allows you to see and control the device — we’re talking full control from anywhere; if you can do it in person, you can do it remotely. While it seems like remote control is the superior of the two, the best tool for you depends on your remote device management needs.
What is remote control?
Remote control can be thought of as an extension of remote access. Instead of just being able to see what’s happening on the device’s screen, you can also take control. For example, if you’re trying to replicate an issue, you can recreate the steps to see what happens — all without physical access to the device. You can also use remote control to transfer files to and from the device, record the screen, retrieve logs, and more.
Esper offers mobile device management that allows you to remotely control Android devices through the console. Since remote control poses more potential security risks, we require all devices to be signed with Esper’s remote control plugin. This is also included in Esper Foundation for Android, making remote viewing and control seamless.
What is remote access?
Remote access generally allows you to see the device’s screen (and everything happening on it) for monitoring purposes (it’s sometimes called “remote viewing”). This is ideal for troubleshooting devices in the field, as it allows you to see what’s happening on the screen as another user interacts with the device. Ergo, you’re able to easily identify user error versus a technical issue.
For example, if a PoS system is having trouble accessing a specific feature or executing a specific command, you can remotely view the display while an onsite employee walks you through what’s happening.
Esper allows you to remote access devices as part of our console, which is easy to set up and use.
What is remote monitoring, and how is it different from remote control or access?
While “monitoring” and “control/access” are similar terms, there’s an important distinction in the way they’re used: “remote monitoring” is almost exclusively used by people who are looking to spy on another Android device.
While there can be legitimate reasons for this, nine times out of ten, it’s to invade another person’s privacy. Most Android “monitoring” tools are designed to track a device’s location, messages, calls, emails, and more. These tools run in the background and stay hidden, making them very hard for the end user to detect – often by design.
Many of these tools are advertised as “free” for use, making them even less trustworthy, and they’re loaded with ads and even potentially malicious code. These kinds of services are not cheap to operate, so “free” is a red flag — they’re making money somewhere. Don’t let it be from selling your data.
While this may seem like an appealing option for keeping an eye on fleet devices, make no mistake here: avoid “Android monitoring” apps at all costs.
Learn about remote device management — cost comparison, how to shop for MDM services, a tool checklist, and more. It's everything you want to know about remote device management services but are too afraid to ask.
Remote control vs notification mirroring
There’s also notification mirroring, which is largely a consumer-based feature. This allows users to retrieve, interact with, and respond to phone notifications from their PC. Microsoft offers the Phone Link app for Windows, and Chrome OS has native support for notification mirroring.
While this is a form of remote control, it’s not the same thing. Notification mirroring is very limited in nature and specifically designed for consumer use. It’s not a viable fleet or business remote device management tool.
Remote access vs remote control vs notification mirroring
Since there’s some crossover between the tools we’ve been talking about, here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between them. Keep in mind that most of these are general features found on most remote viewing/control applications (not Esper-specific ones) — we noted the Esper differences where applicable.
* – This is a separate command, but still part of remote viewing and control on Esper.
** – Technically, you can see notifications while remotely viewing or controlling a device, but this isn’t a key use for either feature.
*** – This is sometimes a feature of remote access tools, but might require command line-based transfer
Are remote access and control safe?
From a trustworthy source (like Esper), remote viewing and remote control are both very safe and secure ways to interact with your devices over the web. Our remote options work over an SSL tunnel, making them incredibly secure. For more, check out our guide here. You may be familiar with remote desktop tools for Android like TeamViewer that offer just remote functionality. A secure device management platform like Esper's enables safe remote access along with a suite of other tools.
Do you need to remotely control Android devices? Get in touch!
Whether you need to remotely access 100 or 10,000 devices, Esper has the platform to do it. Using our secure remote viewer plugin (which we deploy to your devices), you can control devices remotely with our console, and access even more powerful features like Secure Remote ADB using the Esper CLI. Give us a chat today so we can help you take full control of your device fleet — you can even try us out for free.
Remote device management is a way to remotely control devices through MDM software as if they were in front of you. You’ll see what’s happening on the screen and be able to interact with touch elements, change settings, and more.
Yes. With compatible software, you can remotely control most tablets.
Yes. With the right MDM software, remote control is possible on tablets from multiple manufacturers, including Samsung.
Yes. With a proper MDM solution, you can remote access devices, including tablets, smartphones, and more.
By leveraging the right MDM tools, you can remotely control your phone, tablets, and other Android devices.