Suppose you are working on your computer and your phone rings. You pick it up and see that there’s a spam SMS. You just ignore it. After some time, the phone rings again. You again pick it up only to see another spam SMS. And this goes on, until you choose not get distracted while you are working.
I am sure most of us would have faced scenarios like these at one time or the other. Needless to say, not only such situations result in wastage of time, you sometimes end up ignoring some relevant and important messages as well.
So, is there are solution to this problem? Well, you’ll be glad to know that there exist software tools that display your phone’s notifications on your computer’s desktop, saving you from unwanted and frequent distractions.
In this article, we will discuss one such application – dubbed KDEConnect – that connects your Android or BlackBerry phone to your Linux computer. Please note that we’ll be using an Android phone (the Nexus 5 running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow) and Ubuntu 16.04 LTE to explain the tool’s features/usage.
KDEConnect, according to the project’s official web page, is a tool that is built with an aim to let all your devices communicate with each other. For example, you can use it to display all your phone’s notifications on your computer screen. The tool also lets you use your phone as a remote control for your desktop.
“To achieve this, KDE Connect implements a secure communication protocol over the network, and allows any developer to create plugins on top of it,” the project’s official webpage says. “Currently there are KDE Connect clients on KDE, Android, and Blackberry, and soon we will support iPhone as well.”.
Download, Install, and Configure
Execute the following commands to download and install KDEConnect on your Ubuntu box:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vikoadi/ppa
sudo apt update
sudo apt install kdeconnect indicator-kdeconnect
Once the above mentioned commands are successful, the next step is to download and install the KDEConnect app on your Android smartphone, something which can be done by heading to the app’s Play Store listing page.
After both Android and Ubuntu apps are installed, open the KDE Connect Settings app on your computer.
When the application opens, you’ll see that it automatically detects your Android phone if both your computer and the handset are connected to the same network. For example, in my case, the application was able to detect my Nexus 5 smartphone.
Now, in the app window, select your Android phone and click the ‘Request pair’ button
This will result in a notification on your KDEConnect mobile app, asking you to confirm the pairing request.
Once you tap the ‘Accept’ button, your devices will be connected. Here are the UIs of both desktop as well as mobile apps after the devices were connected in my case:
There are many features that KDEConnect offers. To start with, the tool lets you ping one device from another to check connectivity. For example, you can choose the ‘Send ping’ option located in the overflow menu of the KDEConnect mobile app to ping your computer.
Similarly, clicking the ‘Send ping’ button in the KDE Connect Settings window will send a ping message to your phone. Like the way ping message is displayed, all your other phone notifications, including those from your WhatsApp, SMS, and other applications are also displayed on your computer screen.
Needless to say, ping is a basic feature that KDEConnect offers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any advanced ones. For example, the tool lets you remotely control your mouse and keyboard from the mobile app.
For this, just tap the ‘Remote input’ option on the mobile app:
And on the screen that follows, you’ll be able to move your finger to control the mouse pointer on your computer.
Use two/three fingers to scroll a window, and long press to perform a drag-n-drop operation. Right and middle clicks can be sent using the corresponding options present in the overflow menu (see below).
Moving on, tap on the keyboard icon on the top-right, and you’ll be able to type on your computer screen using your smartphone’s keyboard (I actually wrote this line using my Nexus 5’s keyboard)
So that was all about the ‘Remote input’ feature.
Moving on, KDEConnect also allows you to send files from your phone to your computer, something which can be achieved by tapping the ‘Send files’ option on your KDEConnect mobile app.
Once you do that, you’ll be asked to choose a file. Thereafter, the file will be immediately sent.
The location where the sent file will be stored on your computer can be accessed by heading to the ‘Share and receive’ plugin entry in the KDE Connect Settings application on your computer, and clicking the empty button next to the plugin name.
Moving on, KDEConnect also offers some interesting features. For example, it can help you find your phone (by making it ring) if it’s not in your direct sight – this can be done through the KDE Connect Monitor app.
As you’d have understood by now, KDEConnect’s capability – for the most part – depends on the application plugins that are active. You can take a look at the list of plugins and their descriptions by tapping on the ‘Plugin settings’ option in the KDEConnect mobile app.
Note: An important point worth mentioning here is that the latest version of KDEConnect (1.0 and up) also allows you to reply SMS directly from notifications – see the announcement from the app’s developer here. While it’s no doubt an extremely useful feature, sadly we couldn’t get it working on our setup. But now that you know it, you can test it out at your end, and in case you succeed, drop in a comment below so that everybody else (including us) can benefit from your knowledge.
As is clearly evident, the tool offers a plethora of features. Aside from being feature-rich, the application is also very easy to download and install (both desktop and mobile clients), and not to mention the ease of use.
The project’s official webpage contains a small FAQ section in case you face difficulties at any stage, and of course, you can file a bug report if the situation merits. The team behind KDEConnect have their own website, so you can follow them if you want to keep yourself updated about the tool’s progress. And finally, those interested can also contribute to the project as it is open source.