Android devices are de rigueur these days with smartphones and tablets, due to their high spec and capability coupled with value for money. But far fewer of us have Android (Unix/Google) PCs, so how well do these devices work with Windows? “Very well” is the short answer. Below are a few useful apps that take advantage of that. In particular, we are looking at transferring files between your PC and Android device, bearing in mind what’s free to use. You could just plug it into your USB device, but we will be looking at doing it wirelessly (there’s little point in having a portable device and having to be stuck to your PC to use it, is there?).
This app lets you take control of your PC from your Android device, putting your desktop and all of its capability onto your Android screen. It’s in 2 parts, with a server app for the PC running in the tool tray and your viewing app on the device. It can be used in touchscreen mode, as a trackpad (including mousewheel) and using your device keyboard or the touch keyboard on the desktop.
The audio from your PC will even pipe through to your device too, so running games and audio apps isn’t a problem. On a wifi network its surprisingly fast frame rate and when screen sharing or using remote desktop tools, it doesn’t close the display on the PC when you are using it too. The Windows 8 Metro view (or whatever they’re calling it these days) works really well – it’s aimed at touchscreen devices, so XBox games can be run from an Android tablet, for example.
This works the other way round, sharing what’s on your Android with your PC.
It has extra little features, like a snapshot option, and your common folders like Photos, Music, etc are easily accessible, along with some basic device information, like available storage space and battery life, etc. It displays like a PC desktop, opening folders and such in a similar way. It’s easy to access by just typing the given address into a web browser.
Similar to AirDroid, this makes your device accessible thru a web browser, but it shows it in more of a directory structure format, making it easy to transfer files in either direction.
Tonido crosses over into what we will be looking at next time: a streaming option, not just file transfer. This app displays all your drives and folders from your PC to your device, but files such as music and video can be streamed and played to your device without having to download them. This is a big advantage if you have a 40-gigabyte music folder, for example. You can select and stream them from the desktop so as not to fill up your device’s storage. The free version works as well as the paid version; the main benefit of the paid version is the available cloud storage space – Tonido offer plans with more than 2 gigabytes cloud storage, similar to Dropbox. It isn’t really needed if you are just using it for file transfer and streaming, so it’s a good choice if you like to stream movies or music from your PC.
There are other apps that are specific to this task that we will look into next time, but Tonido pretty much does all this anyway. It just lacks some features, like a graphic equilizer, and minor aesthetics.