KDE Connect and Android

As most of you know KDE Connect has recently been removed from Google Play due to a policy violation with regard to our SMS and telephony features. While the public outcry helped to get it back in with all features remaining this is just yet another example of how new Android policies make it harder for us to maintain the level of quality and features you expect from KDE Connect. Android Oreo forced us to drop support for older Android versions and imposed restrictions on background services which force us to have an annoying persistent notification. It is to be expected that Google will further restrict background services which will impose more problems for us. With each new Android versions new restrictions and problems arise which we have to work around, if possible. For example, the upcoming Android Q imposes restrictions on accessing the phone’s clipboard. It is unclear whether the clipboard sync in it’s current form is feasible on Android Q. Those are just examples of the problems with the direction Android is moving towards.

With Plasma Mobile KDE has been working on an alternative mobile platform for a while now. We now consider Plasma Mobile stable and suitable for everyone to use. Therefore we decided to stop developing KDE Connect for Android and focus on the Plasma Mobile experience. We have removed the app from Google Play and F-Droid as well as removed the public repositories. We are also in contact with Google about removing the active installations from devices.

We hope that this steps contributes to a better mobile experience in the long term beginning today, April 1st 2019.

Google Summer of Code with KDE Connect

KDE is happy to announce that we will be part of Google Summer of Code 2019. GSoC is a program where students recieve stipends to work on free software for 3 months. Getting paid for open source work, that’s the dream, right?

KDE Connect is participating with 3 interesting projects that also involve other areas of KDE

1. Improving KDE Connect on Windows

KDE Connect builds and runs on Windows, but there are a lot of things that can be improved. This mostly involves the functionality that makes use of notifications. A large part of this task is about improving KNotifications on Windows.

2. An SMS app for Plasma Mobile

Plasma Mobile does not have a functional SMS app yet. We believe that the best way to create one is to reuse the SMS UI we’ve been developing for KDE Connect. We verified that the Plasma Mobile SMS stack is functional on the Nexus 5 (I have no information about other devices). The UI is already running on a phone, what’s missing is a backend that talks to ofono

3. Barcode scanning infrastructure

Scanning a barcode is one of those tasks that comes up in various different apps but the developers don’t want to implement it themselves. For those kind of tasks we have the Purpose framework in KDE. It allows the developer to specify a desired action and let the user choose from available services to fulfil them. E.g. the Share feature in Dolphin is implemented via Purpose. This task is about adding a new action type to Purpose that allows to scan a barcode. Possible implementations could use the local camera or the camera of a device connected via KDE Connect.

If you are interested in doing one of those tasks and have some basic understanding of C++ please contact us on #kdeconnect on Freenode or on Telegram.

The deadline for student applications is April 9th and composing a good application takes some time, so please contact us rather soon.

Please note that we require students to have done some minor work (e.g bug fixes) before starting GSoC. Don’t worry if you don’t have done anything yet, there is still time for it 😉

Happy hacking!