KDE Connect – State of the union

Hey there!

We haven’t blogged about KDE Connect in a long time, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve been lazy. Some new people have joined the project and together we have implemented some exciting features. Our last post was about version 1.0, but recently we released version 1.8 of the Android app and 1.2.1 of the desktop component some time ago, which we did not blog about yet. Until now!

We got some fancy new features in place:

Remote Keyboard plugin

I think most of us can agree that typing long texts on the phone sucks compared to typing on a proper keyboard. Before, you could type your text on the desktop and copy & paste it to your phone using our clipboard sync. Now we got an even fancier method: our new Remote Keyboard plugin.
Before using it you need to enable the KDE Connect Remote Keyboard in your phones settings.

Screenshot_20180316-205817

Whenever you are confronted with a text input field you can switch to the KDE Connect Remote Keyboard. Then you open up the Plasmoid, click the input field and start typing.

remotekeyboard.png

Big thanks to Holger Kaelberer for implementing this!

 

Reply to Whatsapp and others

Previously you only could reply to SMS, but not other IM apps like Whatsapp. We are pleased to announce that we were able to enable replying for several other messaging apps that support Androids quick reply, including Whatsapp. Please note that it is not within our control which apps are supported and which not.
Big thanks to Julian Wolff for implementing this!

 

Notification icons

On Android, most notifications have some kind of icon, like a contact picture for messaging apps or album art for media player notifications. KDE Connect now forwards those and displays them on the desktop and inside the Plasmoid.
notification.png

 

Runtime permissions

Android Marshmallow introduced a new permission system, giving the users fine-grained control about their apps. To support this new system each plugin got a set of required and optional permissions assigned. If a required permission has not been granted the respective plugin won’t be loaded. If an optional permission has not been granted the plugin will be loaded with reduced features.
Screenshot_20180316-210321

 

Direct share

Android Marshmallow also introduced Direct Share. Using this we enabled you to send files or urls to your desktop without opening KDE Connect.
Screenshot_20180316-213838__01 (1)

 

Plasmoid redesign

Our Plasmoid got some love

Before:

After:

 

Choose ringtone for Find-my-Phone

A small but requested feature is selecting a ringtone for Find-my-Phone.

 

Blacklist numbers

You are now able to blacklist numbers so that calls and SMS are not forwarded to the desktop. This is especially useful when you are using two-factor-authentification with your phone so it won’t get leaked to the desktop.

Those features were implemented by me.

 

Media controller overhaul

Matthijs Tijink has been working really hard on improving the media controller plugin. It now displays the album cover art and a media control notification as well as other polish. Make sure to check out his blog.
Before:

Screenshot_20180316-203437

After:

Screenshot_20180316-201401

Notification:

Screenshot_20180316-204859

 

URL handler

Aleix Pol has implemented an URL handler that enables you to trigger phone calls for example by clicking a tel:// url in your browser.

 

Additionally we have fixed loads of bugs, crashes and papercuts and made many under-the-hood improvements.

There is also a lot going on in related KDE software. Friedrich Kossebau is working on bringing MPRIS support to Gwenview and Okular, enabling controlling slideshows and presentations from KDE Connect. Furthermore we fixed some issues in the MPRIS implementation of Plasma Browser Integration andย Elisa (the next-gen KDE music player).
Speaking of Plasma Browser Integration: In case you haven’t, make sure to check out this awesome project which integrates neatly with KDE Connect, enabling you for example to control Youtube videos or Netflix from your phone or to send browser tabs to your phone. Thanks Kai Uwe Broulik for this awesome project!

But this is not the end. We got some more features in the pipeline and this week the core developers are meeting for a sprint to discuss the future of KDE Connect. Some weeks ago we asked people on Reddit which features they like to see and got a ton of valuable feedback. We’ll discuss it and let you know which of them are feasible.

If you are as excited about KDE Connect as we are we would love to see you join our development team. Make sure to subscribe to and ask for help at our mailing list. If you can’t contribute in a technical way but still want to support us consider donating to KDE. Your donations enable us to meet in person and work more closely on KDE Connect and other KDE Software.

 

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41 thoughts on “KDE Connect – State of the union

  1. One feature that I would love to see is KDE Connect always “mounting” the phone to the same path when opening the file manager (e.g. dolphin). This would ease syncing files a lot of you could set up a script with fixed paths e.g. to sync all new music you got from your PC to the phone or sync all new pics from the phone to your PC.

    About the new permission system: I love that you take this fine tuneable approach. Is it possible to have the phone all for permissions on first necessity? I got a new phone, set up KDE Connect and tried to copy some files. When clicking the folder icon on the plasmaoid, all I got was an unspecific error message and it took me a minute to figure out what the issue was: I had not yet given file access to KDE Connect. So either a better error message would be nice. Or (even better): have KDE Connect ask at that point, if I want to grant access to my files.

    Love the work you are doing, this project is one of the (by now: many) reasons why I started donating to KDE !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome! Cant wait to try tall thisd when I get home. Plasma needs a “whats new” application that pops up when something is updated with new features, so much movement in plasma.

    Like

  3. I take advantage of this comment box to express how much I and my family enjoy using kdeconnect for a long time now! So, many thanks to the developers of that neat tool ๐Ÿ™‚

    If I may, my most wanted feature would be a digikam sync over kdeconnect. Do you think this would be feasibleย ?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great! Completely missed the reply Whatsapp part! It was the feature I’ve been missing a lot.
    Definitely gonna use it when I finally finish my thesis (forcing me to use Windows)

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      1. Indeed, I missed that. Thanks for pointing that out ๐Ÿ™‚
        But I miss some info : what port should I route from my router to my desktop so KDEConnect will connect ?

        Like

  5. Hello, congratulations to all, this is a great job.
    I would like to know if you have any future project that integrates kdeconnect that you can receive and make phone calls.
    I think this feature would be fantastic. IOS does this kind of integration, but they use iCloud.

    Like

  6. Are you planing to make some remote control for ktorrent and kget? It would be nice to have atleast the list of downloads/uploads and the percentage. The ice on the cake would be to have an option to add it to current playlist after download is finished.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Do you plan to implement function sending SMSs, but with possibility to select recipient from address book which would be imported into kdeconntact (of course with permission of owner)?

    Like

  8. I’m confused about this keyboard feature. I have kdeconnect 1.2.1-1 on computer and 1.8 on phone. As far I understand I should have this remote keyboard feature but I don’t see it in options anywhere.
    It is written that I had to enable it first. The thing is: Android is a maze and insanely counter-intuitive. After using it for years, I can’t remember where certain option is placed in system, even when I use it regularly. I always have to search it and that’s very annoying. I asked others and everybody have the same experience. I hate that about Android. Can you please explain in more details how and where to enable this remote keyboard in Android?
    All I could find is Samsung keyboard (I never added any other one, I use default one). Also, there is no remote keyboard options in kde connect options.

    There is keyboard in remote output screen (keyboard icon) and it works well when I open a window where I can type something but typing in phone from computer? No idea how to do that.

    So basically this is very frustrating and confusing experience. You write about new, wonderful feature that I already should have in my computer/phone and it’s nowhere to be found. I have no idea how to use it.

    The same is with SMSes. SMS notifications go away and I can’t do anything. This is completely useless feature and also completely obscure and confusing to use so I still have to use pushbullet that has clear UI and tons of options (browsing through SMSes, starting new ones, having contacts list, etc.) that I miss in kde connect.

    So the new keyboard feature feels like a repetition from the past: “Yey, we have new awesome feature!” and nothing changes for me, a casual user, I don’t see it, I can’t use it. I get more and more features in options but still only the core feature “multimedia control” is what really matters. Other features are not usable in any friendly way. I love kde connect and I’m happy that it’s developing well but because I care about it and then something is off, it’s more frustrating.

    Can you at least do movies that show how to enable settings, how to use them? KDE connect is awesome but UI wise it’s very bad compared to pushbullet that did SMSing right. I realize this advanced SMS features won’t show up fast but I hope that in the feature it will be a complete set so I could give up on pushbullet.

    There are also other issues, like kde connect keeping disconnected, although I turned off the android battery savings for it. However this is a random thing. along with connectivity issues that came with the version I’m using. I heard that git version is free of that bug and I probably switch to it.

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  9. I finally figured out how to enable this remote keyboard. It’s like I said, very hard to set. It’s not kdeconnect issue, but android one, hence the ask for the video where it is clearly showed how to enable it. Documentation is the key.

    I noticed, that my cursor placement is not transferred to keyboard so when I move it to another textbox area, I have to do it manually on the phone, otherwise input will continue to show in a place where cursor is on the phone and not on the text input box in computer.

    Thanks!

    Like

  10. Thanks a lot to all developers, testers, and people that contribute developing this great piece of free software to improve Plasma!!

    Happy hacking! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    PS: You should use a free license for the content in your blog ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyway, thaks for let me translate and publish a spanish version, to help spreading about it

    Like

    1. Right now you can’t use remote keyboard when not on Plasma (I think it’s the only feature that only works on Plasma), but I’m looking to change that, so hopefully with the next version you will be able to do that

      Like

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