KDE Connect on Windows - Sneak a peak

Updated: September 23, 2019

If you're in possession of an Android phone, then you might be interested in KDE Connect. This is an application developed by KDE folks, which lets you pair your smartphone with your Plasma desktop, and then do all sorts of magic to and fro. You can control media, check SMS messages, view system information, share files, and more.

I've reviewed this software and found it quite useful, although support for other mobile systems would be nice. Now, as you can imagine, its very name implies that it is tied into the KDE (Plasma) desktop environment. Well, not anymore! You can use it Gnome vis GSConnect, but that's still Linux. Well, well, well! There's also an experimental build for Windows. And that's why we're here. Let's test this software in Windows.

Teaser

Installation

If you want to install KDE Connect in Windows, you have two options. You can wait for the Google Summer of Code 2019 to complete (kind of has but the work never ends), with the explicit aim of porting KDE Connect to Windows and macOS, or you can rush ahead and try the experimental nightly build, straight out of the oven. Indeed, you can find the build in the KDE Factory. Grab the executable and install it. Once you complete the installation wizard, KDE Connect will show up as an icon in your system tray.

Installation

System tray icon

Pair your phone

From the system tray, right-click > Configure. This will open the familiar KDE Connect interface. In the nightly build, the buttons aren't aligned that nicely - they need some healthy padding and such - but this is expected from alpha-beta quality software that isn't still ready for everyday use.

On the phone, launch the KDE Connect app. The desktop wizard should now show the phone, and you can request pairing. Once this is done, the functionality will (mostly) be there.

Before pairing

Paired

Does it work? Well?

Yes and no. The list of available plugins is quite long, but they don't all work in the experimental build, plus things can radically change between one nightly and the other. During my testing, I did encounter some glitches. For example, the SMS applet wouldn't fully load and show the messages.

Right-click, system area options

SMS viewing didn't work

On the other hand, file sharing worked smoothly, both ways. On the other other hand, I was able to control the volume via the media applet but not actually see which media player was running or what song was being played. Once or twice, KDE Connect didn't close properly - the GUI vanished but the background process remained, which I had to kill manually. I am fully aware that some of the functionality is not there - and that the improvements are on the way. This is but the state of the nightly build.

Plugin tweaks

Conclusion

KDE Connect is still not quite primetime ready for Windows. There are both visual and functional glitches, but then it works better than I expected, because I didn't expect anything, and the nightly builds are a nice hidden little gem. I am happy that this software is making progress, even if it supposedly takes away some of the unique, killer features that Linux has, and gives them freely over. Then again, the lack of Linux desktop dominance wasn't because of the lack or excess of killer features, so this is a good thing overall.

I am eagerly waiting to see the final product, and what kind of experience the Windows folks will have. After all, this may give them a further incentive to try Plasma, and the fact this desktop environment is making progress both in the mobile space and on the Windows desktop is quite commendable. For the time being, KDE Connect is still kind of rough beta quality, but all in all, it's a cool thing. Stay tuned.

Cheers.

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