[Android App Review] When Cables Desert You: Airdroid





Let’s face it, as a student you always seem to be running from pillar to post, juggling lectures, tutorials, tests, practical sessions and a myriad of other academic obligations. This is difficult enough as is without having to factor in life in general, such as being with friends, relaxing and the obligatory browse on XDA-Developers for the Android phone geeks among us. Now the last thing you want, as a busy individual, is to waste the free time you actually do end up getting. 

Visualize the scenario...
you’re on campus and on a break, and realize you’ve recently downloaded new music to your laptop. Inspiration hits you as you realise now would be the perfect time to get those tunes onto your beloved Android device. Well, it’s a cinch anyway right, just plug in the USB cable and—wait what? Oh this is just typical, you’ve forgotten your USB cable in your residence. You glare angrily at laptop and phone, sitting just inches apart…Bluetooth won’t cut it because the file transfer you’re wanting to do is pretty large.

Update: Since this story came out AirDroid v2 released, bringing a friendlier login system, better performance and stability, and logon-anywhere functionality. The core benefits and features stay the same as this story though. 

Let me interrupt this sorry tale with some good news, and introduce a brilliant file transfer app called AirDroid.  This app will ensure you almost never need your USB cable again when transferring music, files, apps and more between PC and phone, and visa versa. It’s fast, beautifully efficient and best of all, free on the Google Play Store here, or via the official website as an APK file (for which you’ll need to allow your phone to install non-Play Store apps).

Yes, following on-screen instructions doesn't usually come quite this easy.

Airdroid lets you use any browser on any PC to manage your phone via a really nice looking desktop interface. Getting in couldn’t be simpler. All you’ll need to do is fire up the app on your phone, open the Airdroid login site, and follow the instructions on the page. To get in, either scan the QR code on your PC screen with the Airdroid app (secure SSL login is also supported) or take the code from the app to the PC browser. I tried these methods with both my old HTC Wildfire and my new HTC One S and it worked flawlessly. Remember if you’re on campus you’ll probably want to enable the Secure mode to prevent eavesdroppers or your friendly class hacker from sniffing into whatever it is you’re transferring.

Once you’re in, you’re greeted with a nifty desktop interface which shows your phone’s memory and battery status, and a bunch of icons. From here the options are nearly endless. You can access your phone’s gallery to download/upload images, download and upload music from and to your device, and browse the phone’s filesystem. If you’re one of those people who have root on their phone, you’ll also be able to take screenshots of your phone’s display from the browser.


All your phone's stuff shows like a desktop app. Nice.

Just as you were about to hit the link and grab the app to get started, hang on, it does more! You can also read and send SMSes from the PC interface, access call logs, browse your phone’s contacts [although if you’ve integrated Facebook or other services only the Google-synced ones will show up, I found] and access the clipboard of your phone (interesting, but somehow, not a particularly useful feature, in my opinion). AirDroid’s interface even has its own “app store” which offers relevant apps, but I’d prefer keeping it safe by getting these from the Play Store instead.

Finally for the industrious (or lazy) among us, you can “speed install” APK apps straight to your phone and send web URL’s to your phone’s browser, although there are better apps on the Play Store for that purpose. All in all this app is loaded with handy features that’ll save you time and frustration when you’ve forgotten your cable, plus you can be on any WiFi network for it to work, as long as phone and PC are on the same network. If you’re liking the sound of AirDroid, give it a go here and let us know! 

This article by Matt de Neef [ID.Matt] first appeared on AndyStudentHandbook.blogspot.com