Mocha VNC client for iPhone (review)

in iPhone edited January 2014
Mocha VNC ($5.99, App Store link) by MochaSoft is unique as it comes in a "Lite" (free, App Store link) variant as well. Mocha is cheap compared to other options, but be warned - you get what you pay for.


VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a way to see or control the screen of a device other than the one you're using, allowing you to use a computer while not standing right in front of it. To be more specific, VNC sends the mouse and keyboard events to a target computer, and it sends the graphical screen updates right back to you - which may save you a lot of to-and-froing in the cumbersome physical world.

On Mac OS X, VNC can be enabled by going the System Preferences' "Sharing" pane, and checking the box for Screen Sharing. This also allows you to access your desktop from other Macs on your LAN, and use features like MobileMe's "Back to My Mac".

There are currently two VNC clients available for the iPhone: Mocha VNC and Jaadu VNC (formerly Teleport). We'll be covering these two over the next two days, starting with MochaSoft's Mocha VNC.


When starting up Mocha VNC, you are always greeted by an extremely large orange button (which can curiously be dragged around the screen). Pressing this for the first time will take you to a connection screen where you fill in the VNC server's IP address, port, and password (there is no automatic network discovery in either the full or "Lite" version, which makes it a bit harder for the ordinary user to utilise).

Sometimes it works, and a lot of the time - it doesn't. Mocha VNC also gives you no other way to close the connection other than closing the application.


Mocha VNC's screen is simple, with a couple of (uniquely ugly) buttons filling the bottom of the screen. You can zoom in and out and move around in the expected and intuitive manner, but you can also pull the screen out of the iPhone's viewport completely, which is a strange bit of functionality. The screen can also be turned to Landscape mode for a more familiar screen format.


The Mouse's Behaviour in Mocha VNC is not optimal, with the mouse not being able to truly manoeuvre around the screen, and instead jumping from place to place, meaning you cannot use corner or edge of the screen functions (the dock of OS X, for example). The mouse also scales with screen, making it difficult to see where you left the cursor on the desktop. Right clicking is done by pressing a sticky button.

You can forget dragging anything around the screen.


In kind respite, Mocha VNC uses the native Apple keyboard, with buttons on the top portion of the screen for Ctrl and Cmd (no Alt or Shift to be seen). On a separate and custom keyboard it offers all the functional keys, the directional keys, Esc, Tab, and WinKey (still no Alt or Shift key). It's all right, but it's not really optimal. It's also ugly as sin.


After a bit of usage it becomes very apparent that Mocha VNC, in both "Lite" and full guises, is not that stable. Normal usage repeatedly resulted in the application crashing, and even caused the iPhone to reset on two occasions. It should also be noted that Mocha VNC is poorly designed in terms of interface, with clunky, non native elements cluttering up the screen, often in awkward places.


Mocha VNC is a cheap buy, and it shows in the build of the application. With many interface problems, so many functions missing, and some bugs which can really get you after the nth time, Mocha VNC will only really do if you need an iPhone application to click things at a distance.

The extremely small differences between the "Lite" and full versions mean that unless you desperately need a Ctrl+Alt+Delete function, you will see everything you want to see with the free version.

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