If you are familiar with Linux and especially with the KDE Plasma desktop, you will know what KDE Connect is. It is by far the best option available to integrate your Android smartphone with your PC. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Linux machines running the KDE Plasma desktop. KDE Plasma is quite a package and, in my opinion, the best DE on Linux, but it’s not as popular as GNOME. Now that GNOME is also the default DE for Ubuntu, this is what most Linux users will be comfortable with. That’s why some people are working on trying to bring all the benefits of KDE Connect to GNOME. Their answer is a GNOME extension called GSConnect.
GNOME extensions provide a great way for other developers to work on adding features to the desktop that the GNOME team hadn’t thought of. We’ve talked about GNOME extensions before. We even share some extensions that add functionality and change the aesthetics of the GNOME desktop. GSConnect is an extension that adds a lot of functionality to your GNOME desktop, mostly related to your Android smartphone. It allows you to easily send files between your Gnome desktop and Android smartphone, sync clipboard or notifications between the two devices, browse files wirelessly on your Android device from your desktop, and much more. Pretty much everything KDE Connect does.
MConnect vs GSConnect
Some users may be familiar with MConnect. Another extension that was created to port KDE Connect functionality to GNOME. GSConnect has some advantages over MConnect. First of all, it’s a full implementation of the KDE Connect protocol written in GJS for Gnome Shell (requires Gnome Shell 3.24 or newer). What that means is that it doesn’t need KDE Connect or any of its dependencies, unlike MConnect which needs both. So when you install GSConnect, you only install GSConnect and nothing else. You will still need the KDE Connect App for Android installed on your phone. It also has similar requirements as KDE Connect. This means that your PC and Android device must be connected to the same WiFi network.
GSConnect also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox like KDE Connect. This allows you to easily share links with GSConnect-connected devices, directly, in the device’s browser or via SMS. GSConnect also integrates with Nautilus in the same way that KDE Connect does with Dolphin. It also allows you to disable plugins you don’t want to use in much the same way as KDE Connect. In addition, you can also customize plugins to some extent, for example, you can select the system volume of incoming calls for the telephony plugin. You can also select whether an incoming call should pause the currently playing media.
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GSConnect is also more reliable to the point that Canonical plans to include it as a pre-installed GNOME extension in Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish. It was later decided that the extension was still a little rough around the edges, so it will now not ship with Ubuntu 18.10. This is often the case with new Ubuntu features. They’re always late.
Using the GSConnect GNOME extension, you can easily connect your Android device to your computer. Below is a list of features you can take advantage of with GSConnect:
- It syncs notifications between Gnome Shell desktop and Android device. you can choose to send or receive notifications only, or both.
- It keeps your desktop clipboard and android device clipboard in sync.
- You can receive notifications for phone calls and SMS messages.
- GSConnect can send SMS messages from your desktop, with auto-completion of contacts.
- Send/receive files or links from a Gnome Shell desktop to an Android device and vice versa.
- GSConnect can use your Android device to control an MPRIS v2 compatible media player running on the Gnome Shell desktop.
- Using GSConnect, you can browse your Android device’s file system from your desktop wirelessly.
- Display Android device battery level and charging state on Gnome Shell desktop.
- Use an Android device to control the mouse and send keyboard events to the desktop.
- Easily locate your Android device.
- Define local commands that can be executed by remote devices.
In case you are not familiar with installing extensions on GNOME, you can check out our tutorial on how to install GNOME extensions.