Android devices are veritable technological Swiss Army knive – even more so than you imagine. Both in smartphone or tablet variants, these gadgets have plenty of surprising uses that can be enacted as simply as installing the right app.
This article will point out 5 apps that you can install right now, to start using your Android devices in ways you never thought possible: from a secondary screen for your computer to an external storage device… all in Wi-Fi mode, without need for additional accessories or superfluous wires running around your office.
Wireless Mouse & Keyboard
Ever dreamed of using your Android device to control your computer remotely? With an app like “RemoteMouse”, you can do just that.
The installation process is relatively straightforward: just download the app to your Android device and install the matching server app in the computer you want to control. Having done so, just activate both apps and they’ll communicate automatically. Once a connection has been established, you can use the surface of your phone or tablet as a wireless touchpad, as well as doing text input on the virtual keyboard.
This solution is really ingenious and simple, and works quite nicely – the cursor on your computer moves quite smoothly and accurately, and you can even use common touch gestures such as double-finger scrolling.
There are various Android apps that allow using your tablet as a secondary screen, and our favorite is “ScreenSlider”, with its ease of use and effortless setup. Here, you’ll also have to download the app into your Android along with a server program to the computer you want to connect with.
ScreenSlider works adequately enough to be regarded as a productivity tools, and allows choosing between different configurations – which you should be familiar with, provided you have experience working with double screens. You can, for example, clone your desktop to your Android device, or use it to extend the main desktop in your computer. Provided you have a decent Wi-Fi home network, the connection will be fluid and seamless, allowing you to even stream video from your computer to your Android device with no stuttering.
Assuming your Android device has decent storage space (and/or if its storage can be extended via micro-SD card), why not use it as a wireless pen drive?
You can do that with apps such as “Wi-Fi File Explorer”, which allow transferring files back and forth to your Android device without need for connecting a USB cable. For this solution, you don’t even have to install a server app in your computer. When you launch Wi-Fi File Explorer, it will automatically set up a server within your home network, which you can access from any computer connected to the Internet: just open a browse and type in the IP address served by ScreenSlider, and you will manage to browse the contents of your Android machine with remarkable simplicity.
What about using your Android device as a surveillance camera? For this solution, most apps rely on the usual desktop server counterpart that you need to install on your computer. Once both applications connect, that’s where magic happens: your Android will start streaming video and sound to your computer according to your specifications.
Which means that you can just launch the app, place your phone strategically in a point of view you want to monitor, and you’ll be able to keep track of everything around the phone by logging into your computer. Ingenious, right? And it works very well, indeed. For this effect several apps are available; our recommended pick is “IP webcam”.
To round-up this list of unexpected wireless uses for your Android device, let’s convert your Android into a Wi-Fi Hotspot that allows other devices to share its Internet connection – a practice often referred to as tethering. You can do that simply by installing an app such as “Barnacle Wi-Fi Tether”; after doing so, you just activate a hotspot and connect to it from other devices, as you normally would connect to any other Wi-Fi network.
A word of caution: before using this solution on a regular basis, make sure the data plan in your Android has enough bandwidth to accommodate the extra traffic from the additional devices; otherwise you may incur additional charges.