Imagine this. You’re sitting at your desk and your phone isn’t within grabbing distance – it may be charging (that’s the case most of the time with me at least) – and you need to send a text message, or reply to a WhatsApp text or perform any other task which requires your phone. To do this you’ll have to go to your phone, perform that task, and then return to your desk and repeat this procedure every single time when something pops up on your phone. After a while, this back-and-forth routine becomes pretty tedious, and doing this frequently simply kills your productivity. If you’re anything like me, this happens a lot to you. That’s where AirDroid comes into play.
AirDroid, developed by Sand Studio, is an Android app which allows you to manage your Android phone/tablet right from the comfort of your desk. Smartphones are a joy to use but when you have to alternate between a smartphone and a PC, it definitely feels like a chore. AirDroid attempts to unify your PC and your Android phone. With AirDroid installed on your Android smartphone and the companion app installed on your PC, you can effectively control all the functions of your phone directly from your PC or Mac.
When it was first introduced, the AirDroid interface could only be accessed from the web browser on the PC, but with the advent of AirDroid 3, Sand Studio has removed that restriction.AirDroid 3 brought with it a Desktop Client equipped with a ton of features. After getting the app, I never touch my phone unless I get a call. This tremendously increases productivity, as you don’t need to interact with your phone every five minutes.
With earlier versions of the app, the only way you could connect to the service was if both the PC and phone were on the same network. With the new version, your device only needs internet access to connect to the service. So effectively, you can control your phone from everywhere given that your device has internet access. When you first open the app, it asks you for your account login credentials. Creating an account is as simple as typing in your email ID and a password.
Once you’re logged in, the app presents you with multiple options. The app supports syncing with multiple phones, even concurrently. One of the indispensable features for me is the file transfer feature. In my line of work, I often have to copy files to my phone and vice versa; to do that, I need to remove my phone from my charger, connect it to my PC, wait for it to detect the phone, and then copy the files. With AirDroid, it’s as simple as dragging and dropping a file. You can even copy entire folders and this whole process is locked in with end-to-end encryption. With the file transfer tab, you can even chat and exchange files between your AirDroid-connected Android smartphones. Although the transfer speed isn’t as fast as it is with a data cable, it’s pretty decent and it gets the job done.
AirDroid also gives you access to your contacts, messages, and call log. Whenever I sat at my desk which has a proper keyboard and needed to send a text message, I always figured it would be more convenient if there was some way I could send text messages using my keyboard rather than the virtual keyboard on my phone. AirDroid fits that role perfectly. The app has a notification-mirroring service which mirrors all the notifications from your mobile to your PC screen, in the form of a very clean banner which pops out of the bottom-right of your screen. If the notification is for an SMS, you can actually reply from within the notification and the app will send the message using your phone.
The feature which really makes the app stand out from other similar apps is the AirMirror.AirMirror allows you to control your phone from your PC, and by control I mean, really control. This feature mirrors your screen in a small window on your PC using which you can operate your phone. The latency for this is pretty low, which enhances the experience. You can replicate touches using the mouse and whenever you open an app where you have to type something, the AirDroid keyboard gets activated which allows you to use the keyboard on your PC to input data on your phone. It came as a surprise to me when I saw that the AirDroid keyboard even accepts keyboard shortcuts, such as CTRL+A for select all and CTRL+C for copy.
Previous versions of AirDroid didn’t have AirMirror and I often found myself having to reach out for my phone to reply to anything which wasn’t a text message. With AirMirror, I can easily reply to any e-mail, WhatsApp message, etc. from my PC, all the while using my comfortable real keyboard. The mirroring service is also capable of grabbing screenshots from your phone using your PC. While writing this whole review, I never once had to get my phone; I captured all the screenshots using AirMirror.
AirDroid also allows you to accept and dismiss calls using your PC. As soon as someone calls you, the notification banner shows up with two options: Accept and Decline. You can decline the call with a message and can also accept the call, but the catch is that you have to talk using your phone. If AirDroid would carry the audio from my PC’s mic to the call, it would become the perfect application. This is my main gripe with AirDroid. Currently, the only time I have to pick up my phone at the office is when I get a call. One workaround to this is to pair a Bluetooth headset with your phone. See who’s calling on your PC and accept the call from right there and then continue the call on your Bluetooth earphone for a completely untethered experience with your phone.
The phone counterpart of the app also provides multiple other standard features. The app has a fully functioning file manager, RAM booster, and Application manager. These aren’t directly linked to the primary objective of the app but come in really handy sometimes. The app is also capable of creating Wi-Fi hotspots and can connect to your PC with a personal hotspot, so having a Wi-Fi router nearby isn’t a requirement for connecting the PC.
As if all of this wasn’t enough already, the web interface of the app – which can be opened by entering a specific IP address in any browser – offers a plethora of other features. According to the official description of the app:
1. Contacts: View and edit all the contacts.
2. Photos: Transfer photos between Android and computer.
3. Music & Videos: Play and manage music & videos on Android and transfer them between Android and computer.
4. Ringtones: Set music as ringtone and export ringtones.
5. Screenshot: View the real time screen of Android devices, take static screenshots. (requires root)
6. Apps: Import and export .apk files.
7. Camera: See through the lens of both front and back cameras.
8. URL: Push URL to Android and open it with default web browser.
9. Clipboard: Share clipboard content between Android and computer.
– Fast and intuitive UI
– Extensive feature library
– Seamless connectivity
– Multiple connection options
– Inability to talk on call using PC mic
– App is a bit heavy on the memory