The popular AirDroid utility that blurs the line between your PC and Android phone is finally coming out of the cloud and onto your desktop, with standalone clients for Windows and Mac. The new programs, which are part of AirDroid 3's rollout on Wednesday, means you can get persistent notifications for messages, Android apps, and accept or dismiss phone calls on your desktop — no open browser tab necessary.
The new clients also come with a mirroring feature that lets you operate your Android device on your PC, as well as beefed-up security for file transfers.
AirDroid 3 promises a lot of improvements. During my time with the service, however, I found a few bugs still to be worked out before the standalone software becomes a true desktop powerhouse, on a par with the service's killer web app.
The impact on you at home: AirDroid has always been a great service for getting access to your phone's SMS app and the file system right from your PC. The new desktop apps for Windows and Mac expand that ability to control your phone from your computer with new features and increased security.
AirDroid 3 for Windows
To take advantage of AirDroid 3 you'll need to sign up for an AirDroid account, which was previously only necessary for enhanced features such as remote device location. Now, however, you'll need an account before you can even get started with the desktop app.
Once you sign in to the PC app, you'll see many of the features you're used to seeing on the Web, but with a drastically simplified interface.
On the Web you see a slew of various mobile app-like icons. The desktop client does away with all that, instead using a simple navigation panel on the left-hand side of the app.
The panel includes options for sending files to and from your mobile devices; receiving and sending SMS messages; viewing your call log or contact list; viewing app notifications that can be silenced on a per-app basis; and the new mirroring feature. There is also a quick link to the AirDroid web app.
With the desktop client you can also accept or dismiss phone calls right on the desktop, though the actual calls still happen on the handset itself. For dismissing calls, you can choose to just dismiss the call or dismiss and send an SMS message such as "call you later" or "in a meeting."
AirDroid 3 also brings end-to-end encryption for SMS, app notifications, contact info, and other data sent between your Android devices and the AirDroid desktop app. The company said the encryption feature uses "typical public-key cryptography" as well as some security technology the company developed in-house. Sand Studio wouldn't release more detailed technical information, but the company did say it was "confident" third-parties wouldn't be able to read any encrypted data sent between your Android devices and your PC.
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