I'm looking for a tool to remotely access/administrate Android devices within the same network (so no cloud based stuff, please). I'd like to
- see the display/screen content
- be able to launch apps
- be able to access settings
- be able to interact with "activities" (i.e. control apps, change settings)
- access to calls/SMS is not required
- the app should not require excessive permissions
- FOSS solutions strongly preferred, other free solutions welcome. Paid solutions are only acceptable if there's a "trial" available (I don't want to buy a pig in a poke).
- the client preferably runs in a web browser. If it requires a native application, that must support Linux.
Note that Airdroid already disqualified itself completely (see below for details).
Some background explanation
Obviously, a kind of VNC server running on the Android device would be a good choice – but all existing solutions are outaged (last updated 2013 or earlier). I'm currently using PAW Server, but that doesn't cover all requirements (e.g. I cannot see the device's screen or interact with apps). Airdroid1 and Webkey are out of the equation as they work via the cloud (unfortunately, as Airdroid would fit quite nicely apart from requiring quite a lot of permissions – and Webkey would meet the FOSS part even) – and all other candidates known to me are again outdated.
Solutions requiring a rooted device are welcome (all my devices are rooted), though solutions not requiring root might be preferable.
Related questions I've already checked:
- How to remotely control Android device?: VNC (see above), TeamViewer (doesn't fit due to "cloud requirements", plus the devices in question are not supported by it anyway)
- Remotely control and manage Android device from another Android device?: no answers. And doesn't really match, as I want to control it from a Linux computer.
- Control android device remotely: no answers, plus doesn't match OS requirement
- Full remote access to Android device: pretty close, but goes for cloud again
- Control Android device from PC with linux: Misleading title (OP is rather looking for a "second screen")
1 PS: Reading the Airdroid FAQ I just found it should be possible to use "LAN connection" (i.e. not via the Airdroid server) without an account at the Airdroid site. It also describes a Lite Mode, described as "connect your Android devices directly, without passing through the AirDroid web servers" but pointing out that "Some AirDroid web features are missing in Lite Mode." So if someone is using this and can point out how to ensure that no data will leave the local network, Airdroid might be a valid option (obviously depending on what features go missing (which the FAQ lacks to say), and if the remaining features still match my requirements ;). Airdroid's permission requirements are well explained so I could live with that (Xprivacy can deal with them).
I've just given Airdroid a try on a "clean device". While I remember its usefulness from the early versions (whee it did not have any cloud service), it's an absolute no-go now:
- right at the first start, before you even get to see the app's interface, it already wants to connect to Facebook (EEEK!!!)
- checking the config (first thing I usually do), I see it has some "push service" enabled – and also "sending crash reports" (without asking me, to me this is a privacy violation)
- it offers neither https (at least not in local mode) nor a password protection. Having to confirm a connection on-device is one thing – but it's impracticable when the device is not near (but e.g. at the other end of the house)
- invoking the web interface from my browser I see I can do almost nothing: a blank screen with a status bar, a search box (Google Play and Quixey – WTF?), an "about button", creating a message or making a call, turn it off (switching screen size (to "mobile view" and back) seems to have brought the missing elements at least, and enabling cookies (which Airdroid didn't ask for) enabled interaction).
- the web interface has Google Analytics embedded (EEEK!)
- even in local mode, the web interface loads stuff from the mothership. I found no setting to disable that.
- the final kick: after all those concerns, it wants root permissions to show me the device screen. No way: you've already lost my trust, Airdroid.
So as nice as it might be with cloud, it's completely out of the equation for the privacy-concerned.
- Airdroid: no-go, see above
- Vysor: Requires Chrome (which again is known to "phone home" a lot) and ADB (one of the devices in question is at the other end of the house, and I couldn't get "ADB via WiFi" running on it, so it wouldn't work)
- stf: A lot of dependencies, incl. again ADB (see previous point) and more – sounds a bit heavy