Taking a Quick Peek at Zorin Connect
Every so often you run into an application or a utility that, while you're not sure how you'd use it, you find interesting enough to explore. That's what happened to me when I started using Zorin OS.
The application in question is Zorin Connect. It kind of reminds me of tools like Microsoft Phone Link or Dell Mobile Connect, in that it enables you to wirelessly link your phone running Android and your computer running Zorin OS.
Let's take a quick look at it.
Before We Continue
I'd like to point out two things:
- I've written this post from the perspective of curiosity, rather than utility, since
- I don't have a use case for Zorin Connect (though I'm sure that others might find it useful), and because of that
- This post is a cursory look into Zorin Connect and not a comprehensive exploration at all of its features and functions. If you're looking for a deep dive, you'll be disappointed.
With that out of the way, let's continue.
You'll need to install the Zorin Connect app on your phone. You can do that from F-Droid. You can also use that other Android app store if that's your thing.
Next, run the Zorin Connect application on your computer. Then, enable wifi on you phone and fire up the Android app. Why wifi? To use Zorin Connect, your phone and computer must be on the same network; it doesn't work over a data connection.
When your phone and computer detect each other (which can take a few seconds), you can either:
- Tap Request Pairing on your phone, or
- Click Pair on your phone.
A message then pops up on both your desktop and in the notification area of your phone. Here's what the notification looks like on your desktop:
Tap or click Accept. It doesn't matter which device you do that on. The result is the same.
Once that's done, you get a list of the settings and functions that you can use with your computer and your phone. Here is a partial list in the desktop application:
By clicking a slider, you can prevent the mobile app from accessing a function or setting.
Here's a partial list of functions that you can use from the mobile app:
Once you've done that, you can reconnect your phone and computer in the future by clicking on or tapping the name of a device in the app or on the desktop, as shown below:
Some Interesting Features
As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, I don't have any use cases for Zorin Connect. That said, two features that I found useful are Send Files and Send Clipboard. They enable you to share files and the contents of the clipboard on you phone with your computer.
For me, Send Files was the most useful of the two. I used it to transfer the screenshots used in this post to my laptop. I was able to do that in one step instead of a uploading the files to my Nextcloud instance or using a USB cable to get the images off my phone.
You can also use your phone to control the media player on computer and to use it to control your computer's mouse pointer. Essentially making your phone a remote control for your desktop. To be honest, I don't see much need to use a phone as a mouse.
Another interesting, and for me truly useful, feature is the ability to use your phone as a remote control with presentation slides. I tested controlling slides in LibreOffice Impress, Document Viewer, and a web browser (with slides created using Reveal.JS). It worked flawlessly and with no lags.
I'd using this feature a lot if I was still doing talks or presentations. Being able to use my phone means I wouldn't have the expense of a presentation remote, and it would mean one less piece of hardware to worry about losing.
Oh, yeah, the mobile app also indicates level of charge on laptop it's connected to. Again, I'm not entirely sure how useful that is but it's there if you need to use it.
What About the Browser Extensions?
You might have noticed the banner in the Zorin Connect desktop app which shows where to get the mobile app and a pair of browser extensions. Here's what it looks like:
You can install the extensions in Chrome and Firefox. They enable you to share links between Zorin Connect and that browser, or by text message.
To be honest, I didn't test out the browser extensions, if only because (again) I don't have a use case for them.
Zorin Connect is an interesting addition to Zorin OS, especially if you're a heavy user of an Android phone. And while I have no reason to use it, I can see how Zorin Connect would be useful to some people.
The application has quite a few features and functions, but few of those features are ones I'd rarely use. That makes it surplus to my (software) requirements. But if that's not the case for you, Zorin Connect is worth a look.