Category Archives: android

sync files to your phone with bittorrent sync

Triple Sync

Syncing files with a phone is sometimes a cumbersome and tricky task. I blogged about a few solutions before like this one using FTP, but recently I found another gem.
Bittorrent Sync turns out is awesome to sync large amounts of files over WIFI to and from a mobile device without a lot of effort.

So what is it? Bittorrent Sync is, as you probably guessed, a product from the Bittorrent lads. You can use it to synchronize folders between machines in a distributed, non-centralized way. So you could think of it as Dropbox without having to use the central cloud server. There are
clients for all sorts of operating systems like Windows, Android, Mac and Linux.
The only “downside” here is that you need to have another machine online before the syncing happens as there is no central server that keeps a copy of your files in the cloud. You can also see this as an advantage if you don’t want copies to end up on third-party servers.

So to sync from your main machine to a mobile device, this works perfectly.

Basically you do the following to set up file syncing between your PC and your phone:

  • Install the BTSync application on your PC.
  • Install the BTSync app on your (android) phone.
  • Setup a sync folder on your PC.
  • Scan the QR barcode for this folder from your PC screen with your phone from the app to set up the sync folder on your phone.
  • Sit back and watch the magic happen.

Depending on your settings you can use this to sync in both directions, set up multiple sync-folders, sync with multiple machines etc.

It’s awesome, it’s free and it works like a charm.
I love it.

Addendum: if you upgrade from an older version to v2 of Sync your old sync folders might break. I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling Sync on my PC & phone + recreate the sync folders to have it all work flawlessly again.

Photo by Grant Hutchinson, cc-licensed.

the best android ftp server app

Upload / Download

Hooking up your Android phone with a USB cable to your computer is so cumbersome isn’t it? So with that WiFi network you have around the house you might as well fire up a FTP server and transfer your files using FileZilla or WinSCP right?

Of course! But what android FTP server app is good, stable and free to use?
Well I’ve tried a few and I have to say there are a lot of shitty ones out there. Some of them are free as long as you don’t transfer files bigger than 10 or 50MB (boooooh!!), some of them get in trouble when transfer speeds get “high” and crash or loose their connections (booooh!!) and some of them are just too cumbersome to set up (booooh!!)

But I wouldn’t be blogging about it if I didn’t find a pretty damn good one in the bunch. In fact, this one isn’t just a FTP app. ES File Explorer is a darn good file explorer app for your Android phone packed with some extra handy features such as a remote access module, which basically sets up a FTP server on your phone.

The cool part is once you’ve configured it, you can have it drop a shortcut on your home screen to start-up that FTP server with a single tap next time.
It’s awesome and so far it’s stable as a rock. I throw big bunches of large files at it with WinSCP and it takes everything with a smile.

So if you’re looking for a good FTP server for android device, check out ES File Explorer.
It’s also a really good file explorer, can access a bunch of cloud services, uninstall apps, check battery and running apps and much more. In short, this is a good tool to have on your geeky Android tool belt. I imagine it to be a bit like the one Batman has, but with one of those green robots as a belt buckle.

Note: FTP is kinda flaky on android to transfer files sometimes, so recently I tend to use Bittorrent Sync for easy and trouble-free file transfers from and to my phone. However, FTP can still be a quick and dirty way to get files transferred without having to install the BTSync client.

Photo by John Trainor, cc-licensed.

mighty handy android apps

Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - not again

Well look at that. It’s been since 2010 that I actually reviewed the list of Android apps I often use. Can’t have that now can we? What awesome and fresh new apps would I be using these days? Which ones have I ditched for more shiny or slick ones? Let’s see!

  1. The stock browser. Yes. I’m still using it. The other ones, still too bulky imo and don’t seem to be adding any features I can’t live without.
  2. The stock energy manager had to go for a better one I’m afraid. So now I’m sporting Free Power Widget on my homescreen which also gives me access to Bluetooth & mobile data settings and has customizable colours. Ooh, pretty indeed.
  3. Catch Notes is still there. Kicking note-taking buttocks.
  4. FBReader also still there. Best eReader out there & open source.
  5. Advanced Task Killer Free has gone. The stock one is good enough really.
  6. Tweetdeck. You betcha. Best Twitter app for the phone. Ever. Love the tabs. The tabs make all the difference for me. Slide, slide, slide and you’ve seen everything you want. Awesome. From Twitter Inc nowadays. Makes sense.
  7. Zeam Launcher has now replaced the stock launcher because minimalistic goodness and features. It adds a nice customizable toolbar, double-tab multi-screen overview and the easiest way to uninstall apps ever. You just drop them from the app list onto the trashcan ét voila, you can uninstall that bugger without using the market or “Play” thing, nor having to go through the slow loading and tedious system applications menus.
  8. LittlePhoto is the only phone app besides the stock on I’ve kept around. It’s minimal but has lots of nice filters which you can combine in an endless number of ways until you have the perfect image… all messed up. Not locked into any online photo sharing thing either, so you can just save locally and share to whatever you like.
  9. iPaper is a must if you are already using instapaper.
  10. As photo viewer I’m using QuickPic now. Why? Because the stock one just isn’t fancy enough. It also has more features, but still, sometimes you just want things to look pretty dammit.
  11. Dropbox is worth mentioning too. If you don’t know about it, it’s for syncing your files in the cloud to all your devices, so in this case also your Android phone. Lately they’ve done a great job on the Android app, making it a breeze to upload photo’s (automatically even, which is a bit spooky) or other files to your global cloudy storage space. Beats hooking up that darn USB cable to your PC for sure.
  12. An old version of Acrobat Reader for PDF’s, because the new one is just plain worthless on Android imo. Sorry guys.

Photo by Adam Foster | Codefor, cc-licensed.