Couple your desktop and Android device using KDE Connect

KDE Connect Logo

Most of you will know the app Bushbullet which couples your phone and desktop and gives you access to the notifications of your Android device. This really is a great app with lots of features, but you have to trust in Bushbullet, as every notification is first sent to the Bushbullet servers and after that to your desktop computer. As this isn’t an option for me, I was glad to find out that there is a alternative called KDE connect.

One of the big differences between KDE Connect and Bushbullet is that the communication between your phone and your desktop runs completely in your local network, so your data will never leave your devices. Simply get your phone and your desktop into the same network and they will automatically connect.

Installation

On an (K)Ubuntu system, the installation is pretty easy, as the developers provide a PPA. It is recommended to use this repository, as the KDE Connect version in the Ubuntu repository will most likely not get updated if there is a new release of KDE Connect. This could lead to the situation, that the app on your phone will get updated through the Play Store but your desktop software will not.

You will find the KDE Connect app in the Play store. The corresponding desktop app can be installed from the developers PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vikoadi/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kdeconnect indicator-kdeconnect

After installing both, the wizzard of KDE Connect on your desktop will guide you through the pairing-process with only a few simple and self-explaining steps. When finished, look through the settings of the app on your phone by first selecting the paired device and after that open the module settings in the menu. For the push of notifications from your phone to your desktop, it is required to open the notification-sync settings there and give the app access to all notifications.

Well that was the “hard” part, now let’s see what KDE Connect can do…

Features

KDE Connect not only lets you push your Android notifications to your desktop, but also gives you some remote control features in both ways

KDE Connect - Media control for desktop music playerOn the Android app side, you can fully control the media player and the playback volume. You can also remote control your desktops mouse and keyboard, which comes in handy if you conduct a presentation or want to remote control your media PC from your couch. It is also possible to send files to your desktop PC. Last but not least, the clipboard of your desktop PC and your phone gets synced automatically which gives you an easy way of sharing text snippets. Propably mainly for testing purposes, the app gives the possibility to send a ping to your PC which will trigger a desktop notification.

The propably most interesting feature of KDE Connect on the desktop side is the possibility to view the notifications of your Android device on the desktop. Below you will find some examples of desktop notifications triggered from the phone. Besides the popup-message about new notifications, the indicator applet will also let you view old notifications that are currently active on your phone and the status of your phone’s battery. To use the applet, simply open the settings of a KDE panel by clicking the Plasma-symbol on the panel and add the KDE Connect widget.

In addition to sending files from your phone to your desktop, KDE Connect also lets you send files the other way round. As KDE Connect also comes with a KIO slave, it is also possible to acces the phone’s storage from any KDE application you like. This comes in handy if you want to copy files from/to your phone without using additional apps like AirDroid or connecting your phone using a USB cable.

KDE Connect - Filesystem Browser

Browser integration

KDE Connect - Firefox integrationUsing the command-line tool kdeconnect-send you can send almost anything to your Android device. This tool can also be used to send links to pages from your desktop’s browser to your phone.There is an addon for Firefox¬†called Launchy which lets you trigger custom command-line commands with a single click. This addon can be configured to send the link of the current page to your phone.

After installing the addon, open up the plugin’s settings from the Addons-Manager. On the launchy.xml tab of the settings, you will get the location of a directory, where the addon will search for a configuration file (normally $HOME/.mozilla/firefox/$FF_PROFILE_ID/chrome). Simply create the launchy.xml file in this directory with the follwing content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<configurations xmlns="http://launchy.mozdev.org/configurations">
  <application>
    <label>KDE Connect</label>
    <type>1</type>
    <command>/usr/bin/kdeconnect-send</command>
  </application>
</configurations>

After restarting Firefox, the addon will give you an option to send a link of the current site to your phone.

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