Today we are surrounded by ‘smart’ devices all around us – smartphones, tablets, TVs, PCs and many more. These devices naturally don’t interact with each other. There are some device specific apps developed by some companies but those work within the device spectrum of that company, for example Samsung All Share comes only for Samsung Android devices and work only with Samsung smart TVs.
There is a scope for peer-to-peer, device to device convergence where you don’t have to either lock yourself into the products of a company or send the data using traditional methods. For example, I have to put my data on my cloud server to access it from my PC to the tablet.
Some members of the KDE community have been working towards better device interaction.
Albert Vaca Cintora, is a KDE developer from Barcelona, who is working on a Google Summer of Code (2013) project called KDE Konnect. According to the project page:
The goal of this project is to add some communication between your Android phone and your KDE desktop. This way we can, for example, show a desktop notification when you receive a new message, or pause the music automatically during a call.
The project has several goals:
It can show notifications from your phone right into the KDE notification system. It goes beyond display and can also keep these notifications synced between the devices, which means if you discarded or attended a notification of your KDE system it will also disappear from your smartphone. These notifications may also include events like battery status (warning about low battery). It can also take control of the media, which means if your phone rings it will pause, the playing music. Here the computer is not working as a dumb interface for Android; users can “configure the notifications and actions the computer will do when receiving and event from the phone, from a user-friendly interface.”
A user can also install the required Android apps from the computer using the Google account. The communications between the KDE system and Android device will be secure so no snooping.
The developer knows that the project has great potential and GSoC has limited time frame. He aims to take the project beyond the goals mentioned above and wants to implements features like being able to answer or make calls from your PC. Another proposed feature is “Inverse messaging, which means you can receive notifications from your PC events (such as completed downloads) on your smart phone. The developer doesn’t want to keep it limited to Android devices and bring support for iOS and Blackberry devices.
Now, the beauty of the project (typical of any KDE project) is to make it a “platform for developers to implement their own ideas (e.g. Amarok could use a future ‘devices API’ to sync your most played music to your phone)”.
Been there done that
This is however not the first effort in this direction, as Albert admits that there is an open source app by Rodrigo Damazio called android-notifier, but it’s no more active and dates back to 2010 – which also leaves some security holes; and of course it doesn’t offer great KDE interaction.
On the KDE side there is one project from our very own Alex Fiestas called AndroidShine which is available on GitHub.
KDE Konnect takes all of this to the next level. The project has great potential and can offer the kind of convergence we often hear of.
What do you think of the project?