A device manager enabling yout to take control over your picture, music, and much more on your computer without the need to use a USB cable.
Wireless control of your phone
Lost phone finder
SMS and call log
Take pictures remotely from your device's camera
Take screenshots remotely
Premium subscription at 19.99$/year
Do you remember the world without USB? Mind the younger guys, but do you remember when you had to reboot your computer when you forgot to plug in your mouse? These thoughts might lead you to believe that USB cables are perfect, but are they really that perfect? Just plugging in your phone requires you to find and untangle that cable and then crawl on the floor to plug it to your computer… that’s already too much for us lazy users. But with the rise of Wi-Fi, and a little help of AirDroid, USB cables will be a thing of the past.
AirDroid is an online service by Sand Studio that enables you to control your device wirelessly. It works by connecting to your device on your local network – when you are near your device – or by the cloud – useful if you are away from your device. The latter is free under a 100 Mb transfer limit, and 19.99$/year for a premium account that removes this limit and adds other goodies.
So what can this app actually control on your phone or tablet, you may ask? In short, AirDroid gives you remote access to your file system, your text messages/call log, your contacts (not that useful if you use Google Contacts), and your apps. You will also have easy access to your pictures, music and videos, and the app can help you find your phone, and remotely lock or wipe it. For premium users or devices accessed from a local network, you can take screenshots of your device’s screen remotely, and take pictures with its camera.
Making it work
Installing this system is extremely simple. Press install the app, run it, and create an account (which supports service login using Google, Facebook or Twitter). Done. From your computer, you can get access to your device by browsing to http://web.airdroid.com/.
AirDroid is making it simple for you by copying an everyday design, your desktop computer. Pressing on any icons on your “desktop” opens the corresponding window. Much like the Microsoft Windows design, each open window are accessed from the bottom bar, which makes multitasking a breeze. You even have extra information about your device down there: Wi-Fi and cellular signal strength and battery percentage. If you activate notification mirroring, incoming notifications will appear there too.
The file explorer, certainly the most useful feature of this service, beats all the other Android native apps for its ease of use . It is so much easier to browse using a mouse and a keyboard. Feature-wise, you just have the basics (adding/renaming/deleting/cut/copy/paste), although it supports batching operation, which is a plus. Searching is done from the bar on the top left, and you can change the viewing options from either grid or list view. The latter enables you to sort items either by name, file size, date modified or by category.
Talking about categories, AirDroid provides you an easy way to manage them without having to crawl in your file system. Adding music and managing your pictures and apps certainly do benefit from this feature.
AirDroid wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t for its downloading and uploading capabilities. At the top right of any window that deals with files, you will find two buttons: download and upload. For the first button, select one or multiple files, apps, songs, pictures, and even folders and you immediately have it on your computer. The second one opens a window, and you just have to drag and drop your files in it.
Another feature is Find My Phone. You can use it to locate your phone on a map, make it ring, remotely lock it or completely wipe it as a last resort. The feature that makes it differ from the competition is the ability to take a picture of the person who might be “borrowing” it, but it is sadly only available to premium users. All in all, Find my Phone is certainly not the best phone finder, but it is certainly a huge plus to AirDroid.
AirDroid also offers a contact manager, a phone log and a texting client. Those didn’t seem to be truly helpful, unless you are remotely away from your phone and you can’t access it. The contact app, however, makes it easier to manage your address book rather than doing this on your phone, but a CSV file support would have made even more valuable.
The last two features, camera and screenshot, are not interesting for the basic user, unless you want to stalk the user messing with your device. It is noteworthy that the screenshot function requires root.
If we are reviewing apps, we should probably talk a bit about the app itself. The app is composed of three screens. The first one, the connection screen, provides you with links to control your device, or a nifty QR scanning feature – it enables you to access any phone or tablet by having it scan the login screen QR code at http://web.airdroid.com/. The second screen gives you access to tools (device info, app management, file browser, task killer, and hotspot creator) that are relatively barebones compared to some other apps available at the Play Store. The last screen shows you some “recommendations”, which are almost near what one would call advertisement.
AirDroid enables you to manage your phone rapidly and efficiently without having to plug it to any computer. Its interface is slick and powerful, its file functionalities are great and it comes with loads of side features that make it the most complete device management app out there. The fact that you still need a computer to use it makes it still a side tool that cannot replace your device’s file manager. This could change, however, if they improve their on-device tools.
No need for a USB cable
Free account limitation - mostly the 100Mb per month data transfer limitation for cloud access
Lack of CSV compability for the contact manager