Everyone knows that smartphones are awesome, but it’s hard to beat using a large screen and full keyboard to control a device. Developers Peter Mora and Zoltan Papp believe they have come up with a compelling compromise: Webkey, for Android. Webkey allows users with a rooted Android device to text or call contacts, view SD card contents, and more - all from a web based interface.
Webkey's interface leaves a lot to be desired, as it is more bare and utilitarian than polished and perfected. As the picture above shows, you have access to the following options:
- Call List
- SD card
Clicking on "phone" gives you the screen above. From here you have the option to make a call, open your browser, run a command or switch the current view of the screen. This screen is also your default when opening the application and it will change in real time, albeit with a slight delay, to what your phone is currently displaying.
If you were to grab your phone and open an application, the computer view of your phone would change to what the application is showing on your screen - meaning you can grab actual screen shots and edit them straight from your computer. Each clickable tab listed above works pretty much as advertised, with the SMS tab allowing you to send a text message to anyone in your contact list by simply selecting them from a list as shown below:
Call List, as the name implies, will show a listing of all recent calls, both incoming and outgoing, with the times of each call:
The SD card tab gives the user a full screen view of their SD card contents as well as a handful of options that will allow you to manage the content on your card. See below for the options available:
Should you need to locate your device, Webkey conveniently allows you to enable your phones GPS and will provide you with the location information. This can be pretty important if you happen to misplace your device, or if, *gasp*, it’s ever stolen.
The "users" tab is the first tab anyone using this app should check – this is where you will change your username and password, which is essential, unless you want your password to be randomly generated every time you try and connect.
The export tab gives you the option to export contacts, messages, or call lists. The exporting of messages is the only part of the app that I can’t really see myself using.
Webkey is a free app, available on the Android Market, and will work only with rooted phones.
How to Setup Webkey
In order to use Webkey, you’ll need to download the app from the market, create a unique username, and have a computer with internet access. When opening the app you will see what is pictured below:
The first thing you’ll need to do is hit the "Username at server" button and create a unique username, such as ‘AdamsIncredible’. This username is very important as it is how you will find your phone in your browser. The username you select will be part of the URL that is used to access your phone, so for this example it would be http://androidwebkey.com/AdamsIncredible.
Once you type in http://androidwebkey.com/AdamsIncredible, your web browser will ask for a username and password. To my surprise, the username is NOT the username that you just created, i.e. AdamsIncredible; instead, the username is "admin" and the password is randomly generated. This can be seen in the top half of the picture above, my personal password has been replaced with "Your Password Here".
Final Verdict on Webkey for Android
This is a great, free application for Android that everyone with a rooted phone should download and try. While the app performs well overall, there are a few caveats. When testing this app, I tried repeatedly to send a text message through my phone via the web interface. The first text message failed and the second took over half an hour to be delivered. The third text message took slightly less time but still was not an "instant message". The option to call someone is nice in theory, but was poorly executed - the computer merely ports the call to the phone, which then dials out. I was hoping for an experience similar to Google’s new Gmail calling feature, where the conversation takes place entirely on the computer, but alas, it’s still pretty much a traditional phone call – albeit, one initiated from the web interface.
Overall this is an extremely nice app with little to no learning curve, and despite a few limitations, it provides a great solution for anyone looking to control their phone via their computer.
Anyone who has this app let us know what you think, have you found other ways to put it to good use?