Link your Android smartphone and tablet

Link your Android smartphone and tablet

Being a full time auditor, most of my time is taken up by my day job which leaves me with very little time to write this column. As I have to submit at least one article a week, I usually type my stories on the go whenever I have time to spare in the midst of my busy schedule.

As such, I type a good deal of my stories using my Android smartphone or tablet. While it is quite convenient to have the ability to do so, it is by no means an easy task.

I've been a big fan of third-party Android keyboards such as SwiftKey and Swype, but they're no substitute for a physical keyboard. They help you type faster but tapping on glass never feels as good as the tactile feedback you get from typing on actual keys.

For that reason, I got myself a Bluetooth keyboard based on reviews and recommendations online, I chose to go with the Rapoo E6500 Android keyboard which has dedicated Android buttons. This includes buttons for Home, Search, Back, Lock and multimedia control.

The Bluetooth keyboard does indeed offer a better typing experience although it took me some time to get used to it. The keyboard is small in size which is good for a device that is supposed to be highly portable but it's not very comfortable to use.

Aside from Bluetooth keyboards, manufacturers are getting more innovative with their product lineups. I recently came across another type of keyboard for Android devices, the One2Touch Softpad. It's a foldable keyboard that connects to your Android device via NFC.

The obvious drawback of any external keyboard is that you will have to carry an additional device. Having a smartphone and a tablet is already quite a heavy load, both in terms of physical weight and responsibility.

Which is why I carry my Bluetooth keyboard with me only when I have planned in advance to make some time for writing. Unfortunately, this also means that I may not have the keyboard when I have a bout of inspiration to write during an unexpected free time.

It then occurred to me that I "convert" my smartphone into a keyboard for my tablet. I will still have the same problem of having to tap on glass but I was hoping that it will provide a better typing experience.

With some searching on the Google Play Store, I found a whole list of apps that offered me more than what I bargained for. I found many apps that offer users the ability to connect two Android devices together, either via WiFi or Bluetooth. After a successful connection, the apps will usually give users the ability to use one device as a mouse or keyboard for the other.

One such app is Tablet Remote by Tournesol which did exactly what I wanted by allowing me to convert my smartphone into a keyboard for my tablet.

But sadly it didn't offer the kind of experience that I was expecting - the touchscreen keyboard was not as well designed as those that I regularly used. This is understandable as it isn't a key feature of the app.

What interested me more were the other features that the app had to offer. With the ability to control another device, it opened up new usages for smartphones and tablets.

For example, I have an MHL to HDMI adaptor cable that I use to connect my mobile devices to my TV for me to view my device's contents on the big screen.

Being connected via cable, I have to sit close to the TV if I wanted to be able to still control my device. Now with this app, I can sit back on my couch and control whichever device is connected to my TV with my other device.

Another thing that surprised me is that the app offered game control buttons. There is a certain level of awesomeness that can't be described with words when you find yourself using a smartphone as a controller for a game that is running on a tablet's big screen. It almost feels like you're playing on an actual game console, and this feeling can further be accentuated by connecting the tablet to a TV.

In my quest to get the best app, I also found BT Controller Lite by droidbean which is interesting because it natively supports a number of Android games.

All the findings has opened up my horizons and I'm now even more amazed at how much my Android devices can actually do.

If you have other creative ideas on what you can do with two connected Android devices, or have recommendations on improving the typing experience on mobile devices, please feel free to write in and share with us.

Donovan is a full-time auditor and big-time gadget lover who discovered the wonders of the Android world back in October 2010. He enjoys discovering new features and usages for his gadgets.

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