Android and Ubuntu

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© Oxana Lebedeva -

© Oxana Lebedeva -

Air Mail

Load photos, videos, and music from your Android smartphone to your desktop using AirDroid and your browser.

While you're waiting for the first official Ubuntu phone to appear, you have an Android device to use in the meantime. Although the process of downloading data from your smartphone is easy, it usually requires a suitable USB cable and working with the Android filesystem.

Without a cable, you will find it awkward getting to the smartphone data, but the AirDroid app can help. This free app allows you to sync your phone files with your computer over the local network. And, because you can access the data through the browser, the app even works over external networks, independent of your operating system, provided your phone can log on to the network.

Ready for Take-Off

In the test, I used a Samsung Galaxy S running CyanogenMod 10, which corresponds to Android version 4.1. The screenshot function isn't available if you use the preinstalled Android, however, because it requires root privileges.

To install AirDroid, go to Google Play. When it's loaded, you can start the app, which usually requires authentication with the wireless LAN from your phone. A UMTS option is also available, and syncing over the Internet works but is less secure.

Clicking the Secure button to open an https:// connection can have a negative effect on your transmission rate. Either way, once the phone detects the network, it will display an IP address and password that you use to set up the transmission.

Preparing the Browser

To begin, open a browser and enter the IP address and port number to access the smartphone over the network. You'll then get a web access address, such as (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Once you start the AirDroid app with your smartphone and PC on the same network, you can access the phone with your browser.

Over an unsecured connection, a small window then appears for you to enter the password from your phone. Simply enter it in uppercase to open the AirDroid dashboard.

You can activate options such as setting the language; and, for a secure connection via https://, you can click the option under the password entry box. Instructions on how to get the corresponding certificate appear; with Firefox, you get a certificate warning.

Click the I Understand the Risks link and click Add Exception . Enable the option Permanently store this exception if desired, then click Confirm Security Exception (Figure 2). If the password works, the AirDroid dashboard should appear (Figure 3).

Figure 3: The AirDroid dashboard lets you download multimedia content, edit contacts, and take screenshots.
Figure 2: For a secure https:// connection to AirDroid over Firefox, you need a certificate.

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