ADB shell commands are insanely useful for numerous reasons, whether you want to make your Amazon Fire tablet feel more like stock Android, granularly change your phone's animation speed, or bring back the 2-button navigation to the OnePlus 7. To run these commands, you have to set up the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) on your computer and connect your phone via USB or Wi-Fi, which is far from comfortable. That's where a new app comes in: LADB lets you run shell commands right on your phone via Android's wireless ADB protocol. But there are some big caveats for people with older phones that haven't been updated to Android 11 yet.
LADB essentially has an ADB server bundled within its app libraries. In normal circumstances, this server couldn't connect to the device it's installed on, but LADB works around that by connecting the ADB server to a phone's localhost, so you trick the server into thinking the client is a different device. Since localhost doesn't require an internet connection, you could basically be in airplane mode and still use LADB.
Thanks to the new wireless debugging option in Android 11, the process differs between the latest version of the OS and older releases. Both paths have in common that you first need to activate the developer options in your system settings if you haven't already. Look for your phone's build number (it's usually under About phone, but you can also just search settings for it) and tap it seven times. Then, a new developer options entry appears in your system settings (system settings -> system -> advanced -> developer settings on Pixel phones — it should be in a similar location on other handsets).
Here's how you continue depending on your Android version:
On Android 11, you need to go to the developer options and look for wireless debugging. Enter that entry, switch on the toggle, and confirm by tapping Allow. You'll then see an option to pair device with pairing code. Select it and enter split screen (tap and hold the app icon in the multitasking view on Pixel phones). Open LADB in the other window and enter the pairing code and the port number. The process was a bit buggy for me because I couldn't see the text entry fields in LADB when I opened the keyboard, but that might be a problem with my Pixel 3's small screen. Be sure not to turn off your display while you enter the code and port as they change as soon as you close the developer options. That's also the reason why you need to use split screen here.
Wireless debugging is automatically toggled off after you restart your phone, so you need to set it back up when you want to establish a new connection. I also had to clear LADB's data (tap and hold the app icon in your launcher -> app info -> storage and cache -> clear storage) to get to the pairing screen again after I disconnected via the developer options — let's hope that'll be fixed soon.
Android 10 and lower
The process is more cumbersome on Android 10 and lower. To initiate a wireless debugging bridge here, you first need to install ADB on your computer (if you haven't already). Then you have to activate USB debugging in your phone's developer options and connect your handset to your computer. Confirm everything's in working order by typing in adb devices in your terminal, which should show you your phone's ID. To activate wireless debugging, you then need to enter adb tcpip 5555. Disconnect your phone and open LADB on it, which should then automatically establish a connection.
Unfortunately, wireless ADB will be deactivated automatically once you turn off your phone, so you might go through the wired setup over and over again if you often restart your handset.
Once everything is set up, you can use LADB for any shell command (starting with
adb shell) you could think of — this might come in handy in existing or future tutorials we have for you that involve the shell. Keep in mind that you have to enter commands without typing out adb shell in front of them. If you want to export the output as a text file, just hit the share button in the top right corner of the app.
The app isn't perfect yet and might be too cumbersome to use if you don't have Android 11. But as more and more phones are getting updated to the latest OS, the app will only get useful for more and more people. Some manufacturers have also enabled wireless ADB in older phones' developer options, so it's worth checking out if that's available on your handset.
Keep in mind that local ADB shell support isn't exactly unheard of. Tasker introduced that functionality back in February, and tools like Termux and pure-python-adb have existed for a while already. In contrast to these, LADB already looks like it could become the least complicated way to start a local ADB shell, especially when you don't need all of the advanced features that come with Tasker, Termux, and Co.