A screenshot of the app AirDroid.
Kevin C. Tofel, GigaOM via USA Today
If hard pressed to pick an Android app of the year, I'd have to go with AirDroid. We can debate if there's a better choice, but every Android owner that wants an easy way to manage their Android phone from any computer should take a serious look at this app.
The free software not only replaces my app of choice for wirelessly transferring files to a computer - I was using WiFi File transfer, which I recommended this time last year - it also adds support for management of files, contacts, ringtones, videos, images, and music. And that's on top the ability to text contacts on your phone via your computer.
I find that AirDroid is a perfect companion app for whatever Android device I'm using when I'm actually sitting in front of a computer. A standard web browser connects the computer to the Android phone: You just point your browser at web.airdroid.com and the devices are connected over the same Wi-Fi network. You can enter a password to secure the connection, or use the AirDroid app to scan a QR code that appears in the browser. I prefer the second method: It's quick and easy.
Once connected, the computer browser shows a desktop-like interface to the Android smartphone or tablet. There are numerous icons for different activities and data: Files opens up a file manager for the phone, for example. Music, Videos, Messages and Call Logs all show their respective Android data as well. Or, if your device is rooted, you can click the Screenshot icon to snap an image of the Android device remotely.
Want to open up a URL on the phone from the PC? There's a field for that too, as well as a clipboard for notes and detailed information regarding your Android's storage capacity. Your Android's signal strength for Wi-Fi and cellular network appear at the bottom right of the browser, alongside the device's remaining battery percentage.
Using the various icons for data management makes it easy to wirelessly upload to the connected Android (or download from the device) any music files, videos, pictures or ringtones. You can also change the ringtone settings. And those video files on the Android tablet or handset can be watched on the larger screen of a computer too.
Essentially, this web-based interface is a Swiss Army knife of tools for your Android. And the companion app offers the same features right on the Android device: Access to the file manager, device statistics and more. Here's a look at what you can do to your Android phone or tablet from the browser:
It's true that Google Android devices never needed a computer for device management - that's by design - but in some cases, it's handy to use a computer to get at files on an Android or move them locally across a network for use on PC, Chromebook or Mac. I can't think of a program that does this better than AirDroid.
This story was originally posted on GigaOM.