30
Jul
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Screen mirroring on Android is still a bit of a hit-and-miss prospect. Plenty of issues can arise from environmental factors like network congestion, to the type of device being used (*ahem*, Tegra). A few months ago, we covered a recent entrant in this market, BBQScreen by XpLodWilD and nebkat. The app was able to deliver a pretty consistent 25 fps from several types of devices over WiFi, Bluetooth, or USB. Unfortunately, several bugs and incompatibilities plagued some users, but the developers have been working hard to remedy many of those issues. Yesterday, the pair released v2.1, a significant update that switches to a more reliable network protocol, adds a higher performance streaming method, and finally adds true remote control capability. In addition to the server update, an Android client was also launched, bringing all of the same capabilities as the desktop clients.

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While streaming from my Nexus 7 (first gen) to my laptop running Windows 8, performance was very solid and only became unreliable when pushed to very high scaling. Lag was usually under half of a second, and controlling the N7 remotely through my laptop worked quite well. Unfortunately, the same could not be said when I switched to using the Android client on my Nexus 4. Lag was usually around 5 seconds, and the feed frequently stopped updating after about 15 seconds or so. I was able to remotely control the N7 with taps, but could never successfully drag from one home screen to another. Keep in mind, the Android client is still in beta, and it's entirely possible that my experience or device configuration may not match your own; that's why there is a 15-minute return window. Hopefully, the mobile client will grow into a solid performer just like the mobile server and desktop pairing have.

BBQ Remote Control v2.1 Changelog from xplodwild's personal blog:

What’s new?

  • A totally new transmission method. Previously, we used to burst JPEG images to your computer. Now, we are using a next-generation, Miracast-inspired video feed. This results in a smoother mirroring of your phone or tablet screen, at the cost of a slight delay. We still have to tune that around, but it gives much better quality than our previous version.
  • A totally new protocol. We used to blindly push JPEG through UDP, resulting in tearing and all sorts of weirdness (assuming any frame would arrive one day, which quite a few of you had troubles). The unreliable nature of UDP caused lots of troubles about image not showing up at all on your computer because no frame would ever arrive. We’re now going through a classic TCP connection as video feed is much more stable and use less bandwidth.
  • Ugly bugs fixed. But you don’t want to hear about that.
  • Framebuffer capture method. On some devices, like Exynos-powered ones, the screen can be obtained through the GPU buffer, called the framebuffer. This makes the device smoother to use, but can introduce tearing, and is not supported by some platforms (on my tests, Snapdragon and Tegra3 devices aren’t compatible with this method).

Remember that the Android client won't be very useful without the "Remote Control" server. While the desktop clients (Windows 7+, Mac, and Linux) are available as free downloads from the website, the Android client is $0.99, and the server comes in at $3.99. If you find that you've got a need for live streaming from your device for meetings or presentations, give BBQScreen a shot. Even if you don't need it, just think of how much fun you could have by getting a friend to stand nearby with a second device while you convince strangers that you can control your phone with your mind.

Thanks, Eduardo Ribeiro

[Sources: xplodwild's blog 1, 2]

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • Eric

    This is probably hugely unrealistic, but adding chromecast support would be awesome

    • Guillaume ‘XpLoDWilD’

      Waiting on Chromecast to land in France :)

      • Nicolas Leotier

        Do you have some news about that ?

      • Herman

        Waiting on Chromecast and the New Nexus 7 to land in The Netherlands, or at least Europe.

    • Scott

      Lots of stuff have the potential to tap into Chromecast. It would be awesome.

  • Marcus

    Wait so they want me to pay to use the beta? What happens after the beta is over? I don't think so...

    • http://k3rnel.net Juan Rodriguez

      It's more like paying to help further develop the beta.

      • Marcus

        That's why people buy the app in general, I don't think that's really fair practice.

        • Shitiz Garg

          Supporting independent devs is not a fair practice? It's better than crowdfunding, atleast they're giving something back to you immediately.

        • meelyg

          Wait till you discover Kickstarter

    • http://dabuxian.com/ Dabu

      Are you really complaining about 1$ app price? I don't even know what to say.

      • Guillaume ‘XpLoDWilD’

        It's even less than $1

  • Matthew Fry

    I would pay for a non-root solution. I have apps that *will not* work with root.

    • Guillaume ‘XpLoDWilD’

      This may be possible with 4.3 now, as there are new APIs that allows that. Not much people are running it however.

    • awaaas

      how about use XPrivacy (an xposed framework module) and block the app from running su and getting list of installed apps? works for me.

      • Matthew Fry

        Doesn't work for Isis. Anyway, the XPrivacy dev assumed I intended to do nefarious things so he rejected my request to make it work.

  • Gav456

    So this app could pair a phone with a Rockchip tv stick to view your phone on the tv?

  • Mike

    Damn irregular pricing, here it's listed for 2.56$, clicking the link shows me 2.99€, which would translate to 1.92$. Doesn't kill anyone, still it's not nice.

    • Guillaume ‘XpLoDWilD’

      2.99€ == 3.96 USD

  • Sycobob

    Now if only someone would make a quality app for the reverse: PC-to-phone mirroring. I really want to use my tablet as an extra monitor.

    • MrWareWolf

      I've bought two of these apps to share windows screen onto android, but they suck. I appreciate that they're trying, I was hoping by supporting the authors they would optimize their code to work better for my late generation and common cpu's on my droid tablets: tegra 2 (Acer a500) and Tegra 3 (Nexus 7 old model). Unfortunately they suck as bad now as they did before. Yes, they get updated, but they're generally lame. ScreenSlider was only slightly better than iDisplay. Fortunately they were exceptionally cheap when I got em!

  • MrWareWolf

    ..

  • Jason Ulrich

    Just tried the app out on my sgs3 and n7 fhd... the app runs fine and actually works well for all of 30 seconds maybe? but i think there is a memory leak or something because it made both of my devices completely unresponsive. I had to battery pull the sgs3 and do a hard reset of my n7... If it were stable I'd definitely invest but for now I'm refunding.

    • GazaIan

      Are you running 4.3? It seems like a 4.3 issue. It froze my Nexus 4 on 4.3.

      • Jason Ulrich

        Yea 4.3! But I'm running a 4.1.2 tw ROM on my sgs3 and it died after awhile there too...

  • Jonathan Campbell

    What is the difference between the regular beta and the one that requires root? Other than the root part of course. Why does it cost more?

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