Sunday, December 6, 2015

Chrome to Phone replacement for FoxtoPhone users - Sendroid


I was very annoyed this week to discover that Google has depreciated their useful little "Chrome to Phone" extension. This was a simple tool to send links from your desktop browser to your Android phone with one click. I personally prefer Firefox over Chrome, but there was no problem thanks to the useful FoxtoPhone add-on for Firefox that sent links from Firefox to your phone through the Chrome-to-Phone app. 

DEPRECIATED 


So I was annoyed to see a huge "[DEPRECIATED]" notice in the title of the "Chrome to Phone" Android app. It now runs this message in both the Android app's Play Store page and the corresponding Chrome extension's page

NOTICE: Chrome to Phone is no longer supported
Chrome to Phone was launched in 2010 to help bridge your desktop and phone experience by making it easy to send Web links to your phone. Over the years, Google’s core products have evolved to be more integrated across different form factors. As of today, Chrome to Phone is deprecated. The app will continue to work until Mar 31st 2016 after which it will no longer work.

Based on the comments section for the Chrome extension, I'm not the only annoyed person out there. Google is really becoming the new Apple. I abandoned Apple precisely for its tight-fisted walled-garden approach. Anyway, their recommendation for replacement (Chrome tab sync) are utterly useless for me, a Firefox user (though let's be honest, anything that steals even more marketshare is music to their ears). Firefox also has a tab-sync feature; the trouble is I prefer Firefox on desktop and Chrome on Android. Until now, the Chrome-to-Phone/FoxtoPhone combo meant they both played nice.

Sendroid


But hope is not all lost. In my search for a replacement, I came across a little Firefox Add-on called Sendroid that does basically the same thing, with a partner light-weight Android app. I've been trying it out, and here's a review of what I think:

PRO:

  • Image auto-download. This is a cool feature Chrome2Phone was missing. Right-clicking images in Firefox now allows me to send that image, not just the link, to my Android (well, the link gets sent, but then automatically downloaded on my phone).
  • Android share menu. I would always receive links via Chrome2Phone on Android, but not necessary want to launch them (I mean obviously I was on that page seconds before on desktop). If I sent a link to my phone, it's usually because I intended to send it, either to Keep or to a KakaoTalk chat-room. Sendroid automatically gives me that ability without having to swipe away the notification and open the app (as I had to do with Chrome2Phone)
  • No log-in. Obviously FoxtoPhone needed access to my Google account to send via the Chrome2Phone protocol. Sendroid just uses a unique registration code your phone generates when first installing. Just copy the code to the Firefox extension once, and you're set.
  • Multiple receivers. This is a biggie. I usually used Fox2Phone to send links to my Android, which I'd then send to a friend on Kakao. Sendroid cuts out the middle-man: if he/she also has the light Sendroid app, I can send it right to them directly. 

CON:

  • No history. Chrome2Phone would save a list of all the links/text it had received. Good for links I sent, swiped away, then wanted to consult later. Sendroid has no such history.
  • No link launching. This is a bit annoying. Sometimes when I send a link, I do want to launch it in the Android browser. There seems no option for this: you share the link to an installed app. That's it. And neither mobile Chrome nor the stock browser are in the Android share menu. 
    EDIT: I was mistaken. When the notification shade is filled with lots of other items, the Sendroid notification contracts to a smaller size, like do many other notifications, which allows only for a single tap, which opens the Share menu. However if your notification shade is basically empty, it will expand to allow either sharing, copying the link, or launching the link. Here are the two states of the notification you receive:


For now until that March 31st deadline, I'll continue to use Fox2Phone alongside Sendroid. Who knows, maybe the FoxtoPhone developer will come-up with a workaround. I do find it a bit weird that Sendoid has so few users (12 reviews on Google Play, 100~500 installs, 37 users on Chrome, 62 users on Firefox as of today) but I will chalk it up to "Chrome to Phone" having been an official Google-branded product. I wouldn't have even thought of trying Sendroid either, until now anyway.

I do wonder how much longer the Blogger service will up and running. Every time I log-in to this blog, I hold my breath in fear of a giant "DEPRECIATED" across the screen. Google, I want to love you, I want to use your services, but you make it hard to love you. Don't send me into the arms of Wordpress 


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