Today's smartphones have bigger and better screens than ever before. But, while a 4- or 5-inch screen may feel roomy on your mobile device, it's probably less than a quarter the size of to the screen that your laptop or desktop boasts. If you'd like to use all of those inches for viewing and controlling your Android phones or Android tablet, meet AirDroid, a handy mobile application that allows you to take complete control of your Android device via your computer's Web browser. See also: Best Android apps.

To use AirDroid, your two devices must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. You download the app to your mobile phone from Google Play. Launch the app, and it does most of the work for you, creating a link between your phone and your Web browser. AirDroid lets you choose how to complete the connection between the two devices, and provides all the guidance you need along the way. It offers up two Web addresses that you can use to complete the link; one is an IP address that makes a direct connection, while the other is web.airdroid.com, which will link the two once you've entered the supplied passcode. Alternately, you can use the AirDroid app on the phone to scan an on-screen QR code that appears on web.airdroid.com, which will also complete the connection.

AirDroid is supposed to work on all major browsers, but I had difficulty when I tested it using Internet Explorer 9: my connection kept terminating abruptly. But when I switched my browser to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, I had no problems at all. See also: Best iPhone apps.

Once the connection is established, you can use AirDroid's slick Web interface to navigate the contents of your phone. You can view photos and videos (a QuickTime plug-in is required), and transfer files between the computer and the phone. You also can view your collection of Android apps, installing and uninstalling titles as you'd like. Additional options include reading SMS messages, and sending new ones from your browser. You also can share clipboard text between your computer and phone; organize contacts; check and delete call logs; and upload and download ringtones.

AirDroid isn't perfect. It occasionally stumbled when I tried to view photos via my Web browser, telling me the requested content could not be loaded. I also noticed a delay when trying to send SMS messages from my browser; they arrived a few minutes after I pressed send. And AirDroid can't be used to make voice calls. But, let's face it, if it included that feature, I might never to go back to using that 4-inch phone screen again.

AirDroid: Specs

  • Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP
  • Android device running 2.1 or higher
  • Web Desktop should be compatible with most modern web browsers, including IE 8 or later, Chrome 12 or later, Firefox 3.6 or later, Safari 5.0 or later
  • Support for mobile browsers, such as Safari on iPad, is experimental
  • Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP
  • Android device running 2.1 or higher
  • Web Desktop should be compatible with most modern web browsers, including IE 8 or later, Chrome 12 or later, Firefox 3.6 or later, Safari 5.0 or later
  • Support for mobile browsers, such as Safari on iPad, is experimental

OUR VERDICT

AirDroid is a useful, free software tool with only a couple of minor faults.

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