December 9, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Evaluated version: 1.0.4
Pros: Wireless file sync, send and read SMS on computer, smooth UI
Cons: Switching views in navigation is sometimes slow
Android was among the first of the modern smartphone operating systems to truly embrace the cloud, allowing for on-device management and synching across devices. AirDroid is an application that adds a twist to that concept by providing a tool to manage important phone functions directly from a desktop computer.
AirDroid links a computer and mobile device that are on the same Wi-fi network. The user enters an IP address in the browser and then enters a key code that pairs the devices. From there, AirDroid can access call logs, check messages, and manage files stored on the computer. There’s also a good-looking contact management feature, but since users can already do with Google Contacts, it’s less impressive. However, being able to send and receive text messages on a computer is worth the price of admission ($0 – the app is free).
App and file management are also present. If you download an APK to beta test, you can load it directly from the portal without having to mount an SD card. And if you need to back-up apps, the Export feature will download the APK for a single title or a ZIP archive for a batch of them. AirDroid can also initiate batch uninstalls, but it still requires that the user manually tap “Ok” for each app on the phone. The portal actually does a better job of displaying the name, size, and date of each app installed, providing an excellent window for determining which titles get the boot.
It’s not all peaches and roses, however. I love that Airdroid can manage the SD card without having to actually mount it to a device, allowing users to wirelessly transfer songs to a phone or backup photos from the phone to the desktop. However, the speed of some functions isn’t as fast as it could be, and navigation from one window to another isn’t quick either. It’s also disappointing that there’s only an icon view when browsing the SD card contents, and the stats on file space don’t refresh even after pressing the refresh button. These are small gripes that are tolerable for now and will likely be addressed in future updates.
AirDroid is a handy application to manage data on the desktop, and it has a simple file manager when you want to handle certain functions directly on the phone. Even if you just want to be able to easily send texts or backup files, it’s a great tool to have in your arsenal.
KEY FACTS AND FEATURES
- Android 2.1 or higher required
- Copy text clipboard between Android and desktop
- Send and receive SMS messages from the desktop
- Over-the-air transfer of music, photos, and other documents
- Install, backup, or uninstall apps and games from the desktop