KDE Connect Merges Phone and Desktop
Even though everyone seems to use both computers and mobile devices all the time, they’re very much separate experiences each with their own quirks, their own set of apps, their own notifications, and so on. Currently the only connection that these two share is that they’re both forms of computing devices, just that one is more portable than the other. But given that we use both of these kinds of devices all the time, it would stand to reason that we should put them together somehow. It’d be nice if we could see what’s happening on our phone that’s likely sitting next to us without taking our eyes off the monitor screen.
Connecting the Dots
Thankfully, as part of Google’s Summer of Code 2013 event, you’ll see this idea come to fruition in the form of KDE Connect. As the name implies, this Connect service is currently exclusive to the KDE Desktop. It’s still in very early stages of development, but even now it can integrate your Linux desktop pretty seamlessly with your Android phone or tablet. Its main purpose is to allow for hands-off sync and sharing of certain parts of your desktop and phone, which will be covered later in the article. But basically, it turns out that it’s a really cool way to merge the two worlds together.
In order to get everything working you’ll have to install two different pieces of software. One is the KDE Connect app for Android, which you can find on the Google Play Store. It should be compatible with pretty much any Android device out there, just as long as it can connect to Wi-Fi. It’s recommended, however, that you have at least Android 4.3 so that all of Connect’s features will be available to you.
Next, you need a Linux desktop that has KDE installed. There are a number of distributions that match this description, but the easiest way to get started is to use a distro like Kubuntu (an Ubuntu desktop variant). From here, in order to get the latest version you’ll have to compile some source code. It’s not difficult at all, and can be done by following the instructions on the Larsemil.se blog.
Once everything is up and running, you need to make sure that both your Android device and KDE desktop are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Right now there’s no other way to link the two, but eventually the developers’ goal is to make the link happen no matter what kind of internet connection is available.
We’ve covered installing KDE Connect, but what does it do, exactly? Right now the list of features is continually changing as it continues to be developed, but what’s there so far is already immensely useful for people who use both computers and mobile devices very often.
For one, Connect will give you notifications of calls and texts on your desktop as soon as they arrive on your phone. They’re shown as discreet messages in the bottom corner.
If you happen to have Android 4.3 or later, you can also sync all app notifications, which will also appear on your desktop as they happen. Combined with call and text notifications, this means that you’ll barely have to look at your phone again unless you want to answer a call.
An incredibly useful feature is the ability to sync clipboards. If you cut or copy text on your Android device, you can immediately paste on your desktop. It works just as well in reverse, where you can cut/copy on a computer and paste on your phone.
A few other handy things include the reporting of battery status, controlling your media player remotely, and last but not least, file transfer. All in all, even at this early stage it’s already a great Android sync solution.
In my personal opinion, KDE Connect seems to be a fantastic merging of two different worlds that’s sorely needed in today’s multi-device culture. I don’t use KDE very much myself, but this is the kind of thing that could make a lot people switch over, especially since such seamless and smooth integration doesn’t really exist on the GNOME or Unity side of things. I look forward to seeing Connect develop further into something even more fantastic.