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Summary:

My pick for Android app of the year? AirDroid, which provides wireless management of your Android phone or tablet from any browser on the same Wi-Fi network. You can manage files, videos, music, ringtones and more on any computer, making for a great free companion application.

AirDroid-Android-Mac

AirDroid on AndroidIf hard pressed to pick an Android app of the year, I’d have to go with AirDroid. We can debate if there’s a better choice, but every Android owner that wants an easy way to manage their Android phone from any computer should take a serious look at this app. The free software not only replaces my app of choice for wirelessly transferring files to a computer — I was using WiFi File transfer, which I recommended this time last year — it also adds support for management of files, contacts, ringtones, videos, images, and music. And that’s on top the ability to text contacts on your phone via your computer.

I find that AirDroid is a perfect companion app for whatever Android device I’m using when I’m actually sitting in front of a computer. A standard web browser connects the computer to the Android phone: You just point your browser at web.airdroid.com and the devices are connected over the same Wi-Fi network. You can enter a password to secure the connection, or use the AirDroid app to scan a QR code that appears in the browser. I prefer the second method: It’s quick and easy.

Once connected, the computer browser shows a desktop-like interface to the Android smartphone or tablet. There are numerous icons for different activities and data: Files opens up a file manager for the phone, for example. Music, Videos, Messages and Call Logs all show their respective Android data as well. Or, if your device is rooted, you can click the Screenshot icon to snap an image of the Android device remotely.

 

Want to open up a URL on the phone from the PC? There’s a field for that too, as well as a clipboard for notes and detailed information regarding your Android’s storage capacity. Your Android’s signal strength for Wi-Fi and cellular network appear at the bottom right of the browser, alongside the device’s remaining battery percentage.

Using the various icons for data management makes it easy to wirelessly upload to the connected Android (or download from the device) any music files, videos, pictures or ringtones. You can also change the ringtone settings. And those video files on the Android tablet or handset can be watched on the larger screen of a computer too. Essentially, this web-based interface is a Swiss Army knife of tools for your Android. And the companion app offers the same features right on the Android device: Access to the file manager, device statistics and more. Here’s a look at what you can do to your Android phone or tablet from the browser:

It’s true that Google Android devices never needed a computer for device management — that’s by design — but in some cases, it’s handy to use a computer to get at files on an Android or move them locally across a network for use on PC, Chromebook or Mac. I can’t think of a program that does this better than AirDroid.

  1. AirDroid is about as polished an implementation of this device-as-server-accessed-via-WLAN as has existed on Android since iFMW and a few others. Reminds me of the polish and implementation of Nokia’s old Mobile Web Server Project, but with the access-over-http that Nokia’s service/product offered. Glad to see a developer not named Samsung (AirKies) do this as well. Now, folks just got to think about what it means to turn themselves into a platform for more than just being accessed by a browser and this kind of product really takes into account more unique aspects of mobile.

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  2. I really don’t understand why your won’t USE YOUR WORDS!, when making a video to ostensibly explain your product. Realizing I’m a noob, but please next time find your voice. Following the cursor around and leaving the volume turned on, hoping for your voice, and trying to read the small print on my 4.3″ screen is impossible. Please, thank you.

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  3. I remember how easy things were on my phone-from-hell (random hangups, shut offs and reboots) the Moto Q. Managing its files from a computer was the one thing that it did exceeding well using active sync. Even on Debian and BSD systems files were easily worked. It was as if I were moving files on just another hard drive. Then I upgraded to Android which only allowed limited media management from a computer, and most recently with an Android Bionic along with a new laptop, I found I couldn’t even sync via usb anymore. If this solves some of those issues I’m in. Now if there were just a really simple way to root the system and manage it without doing everything on a phone keyboard….

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  4. You may also be interested in SnapPea.
    I find a few things work better.

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  5. Love this app! Glad you recommended, and I must say, one of the best I’ve installed on my phone(s) since Android debuted. Highly recommended for anyone who does anything beyond calling on their phone.

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  6. I prefer to access the pc from the phone

    by simply opening sharing/access to the pc across the wifi lan, I move files back and forth using ES File Explorer

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    1. I prefer that method also, but use Tonido to accomplish it. Would love to see a review on all the methods for wirelessly accessing between PC and phone/tablet. Both from the PC (although it appears AirDroid wins here) and from the portable device.

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    2. Internet-wide (not just while sitting in your home on your local wi-fi network), the use case for phone-to-PC access makes sense. I’ve been away at a restaurant, and using my phone, retrieved a document from my running PC. The opposite case (you are at your PC but your Android device is somewhere else across the www) makes little sense. How often are you separated from your phone?

      AirDroid and similar are just replacements (albeit very capable replacements) for plugging in the wire. Tonido and similar are PC-as-cloud solutions, which also act as wired connection replacements.

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  7. Thanks for your tip on this app……I am a Mac guy using an Android cheap phone and service. I don’t want much from a phone but this app is just the ticket for me if it does what you say. Makes my low end phone into a top line phone. Much appreciate…..keep it coming

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  8. I had a G1 back in the day. After several years, I upgraded to an iPhone. In all of that time, there hasn’t been a single software feature of Android that I have missed, or app that has made me say “should I go back?” … until this. I sorely/sincerely wish I had this on an iPhone.

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  9. it sounds really great but , it also sounds like a security nightmare. this app has access to just about EVERYTHING , accounts, device info, harware control , your personal info………

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  10. Roger that Kenny, just what protection do you have if you are using a wi-fi hotspot ?

    Clive

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