Releasing KDE Connect ‘Code-in Edition’

Code-in is a program from Google to encourage young people (ages 13-17) to participate in free software projects. This year some Code-in participants worked on improvements for KDE Connect, and today we are releasing all this work condensed into KDE Connect 0.8!

This version comes with lots of bug fixes and a bunch of new features:

  • Added the ability to mute incoming calls from the desktop notification.*
  • Included a way to disable desktop notifications per-app from your phone.
  • Added a seek bar to the Media Controls.*
  • Added a plugin to prevent your PC from sleeping if your phone is in the network.
  • Implemented support for drag’n drop in touchpad.*
  • Added support for special keys and modifier keys to virtual keyboard.
  • Fixed shared Youtube videos not opening in the browser.

*Features made by people under 18 :D

This is a release for the KDE 4 desktop only, and I’m sorry for not having a Plasma 5 version ready. I’ve been holding this update to prepare a super cool stable version for Plasma 5 as well, but I didn’t find time for that and I think it’s better not to hold this version any longer. For those of you who have already jumped to Plasma 5, an official release is coming soon, I promise!

KDE Connect 0.8 for KDE 4 – tarball
KDE Connect 0.8 for Android – app on Google Play
KDE Connect 0.8 for Android – app on F-Droid

Local KDE meetings rock, and you should be in one

I made my first contact with the KDE community about 4 years ago, in a bar in Barcelona. Do you want to know how was it?

A bunch of KDE enthusiasts from the sunny Barcelona (Spain) decided to organize a dinner in a restaurant to celebrate the launch of KDE 4.6. At that time, I was not even using KDE 4 (I was a happy KDE3 user instead!) but I though it would be nice to meet other people and discuss about the problems I had with KDE 4.

They were celebrating this kind of “release dinners” regularly in Barcelona, a casual gathering for all kind of people interested in KDE: users, non-users, developers, artists, translators, writers… very interesting people above all! And I had a very good time in my first experience, so I begun to go to these dinners frequently. They would usually end up in a bar having beers and discussing all kind of interesting (KDE and non-KDE related) topics.

By that time I was studying computer engineering, and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to meet smart developers and learn from them. In one of these dinners, I was talking with Àlex Fiestas (and I bet we both were quite drunk) about how difficult it was to use a smartphone and a computer together, even when both devices run similar OSes… And you may already have realized that the entire KDE Connect project started there!

KDE Dinner in Barcelona
KDE Dinner in Barcelona, 2013

I’m happy to still be in this awesome community today, four years later. The reason is that by myself I can only write code, but in KDE I find artists that will help me make my apps beautiful, translators that will make them available in tens of different languages, writers that will spread the word, and a platform behind it that will give visibility to software distributions, end users, and new contributors. Could I have done this alone? Probably not. And not only that, in KDE I also met great people. People that are now true friends.

Last year I moved to Seattle (WA), so I don’t live in Barcelona anymore. I found that they were also organizing local KDE meetings here, so I decided to go to one right away. And of course there I met another bunch of awesome people! Andrew Lake even let me sleep in their place until I found a permanent apartment in the city, and Valorie Zimmerman offered me an “adoptive family” for my first New Year’s Eve here. Yes, people is that awesome in this free software community :) Really, truly, incredible people.

But the point of this blogpost is not (only) to talk about my KDE story. It is about your KDE story. You should be doing this yourself! If there is a KDE meeting near you, go there, if there are none, recruit some friends and create one! Really, don’t be afraid: the worst thing that can happen if nobody assists is that you end up having a beer with your friends :D And, of course, if you live around Seattle, please join us in our next meeting!

KDE Connect feature brainstorming

In a recent informal meeting of KDE users in Seattle, Andrew Lake from the KDE Visual Design Group gave me some ideas he had for KDE Connect. Since I think that we all have a different vision and different ideas that are possible to implement on top of KDE Connect, I decided to write this post asking for your ideas, in some kind of community brainstorming.

Also, since the last time I made a post about possible features for KDE Connect, a lot of them have been implemented or are work in progress, so I hope this post achieves the same effect :)

Here is my personal list of possible features:

  • Plugin for power management (sleep, shut down, etc).
  • “Find my phone” plugin, that makes your phone ring even if it is silenced.
  • Add media controls from the Android lock screen.
  • Plugin to keep your computer unlocked while phone is reachable.
  • Use the phone as a location provider for the desktop.
  • Akonady resources sync with Android (contacts, calendar…).
  • Plugin to print from your phone to your computer’s printer.
  • Add support for drag’n drop for touchpad plugin.
  • Port to other desktops and platforms: Gnome, Unity, MacOS, Windows…
  • Publish and maintain the iOS port that Yang Qiao begun this GSOC (any iPhone user around?)

And here is some stuff is already being worked on:

  • Answer SMS from the desktop (by David Edmunson).
  • Pair with a specific IP address or hostname (by Achilleas Koutsou).

Now it’s your time to come up with more ideas in the comments! And of course feel free to give your opinion/enhance the ideas on my list.

Update: As Aleix Pol suggested, I created a for KDE Connect that I will be updating with the ideas that come up in the comments.

Help make Plasma 5 real!

Maybe you already know that the new version of the desktop by the KDE people, that will be called Plasma 5, is in the makings. I totally believe that this forthcoming release will be truly amazing,  and that’s why Aleix Pol and myself have already started porting KDE Connect to this new Desktop Environment.

Porting every application in KDE, though, requires a huge amount of work. This is one of the reasons why some of the best hackers in KDE will meet this summer in Randa, Switzerland: to work hard in the next version of the best desktop environment ever!

If you, like me, also believe that Plasma 5 will be awesome and want to help its development, I encourage you to donate in the crowd-funding campaign they started to cover the expenses of the meeting. You can do it from the following link:

Thanks from all the KDE Community!

Awesome contributions to KDE Connect

Today we are releasing a new version of KDE Connect for Android phones and the Plasma desktop. This shiny new release includes some nice features contributed by great people in the KDE Community (and outside it). You guys are awesome!

The first feature I want to show you was contributed by Ahmed Ibrahim, and allows you to use your phone screen as a touchpad for your computer. Do you have a mediacenter or another setup where you don’t want to have a mouse and a keyboard always attached? With KDE Connect we will make you able to use your phone as a wireless input device!

Screenshot of the touchpad plugin in Android

And by the way, do you guess how I sent this screenshot from my phone to my laptop? Of course, I used the “Share to” feature and I sent it over KDE Connect :) In this new release, we made Android able to receive files as well, sent from a computer or another Android phone. You requested this feature for long, and finally here it is! You will be able to send files from Dolphin or from the also new command line interface, all thanks to Aleix Pol!

Screenshot of Dolphin's integration

This version also has several improvements under the hood, has a bunch of bugs fixed and can now run on FreeBSD systems, thanks to Raphael Kubo.

To end this post I just want to thank, once again, everybody who sent patches and specially the awesome translation team of KDE, who made KDE Connect already available in 25 languages (including Catalan, my native tongue :)!

KDE Connect 0.7.2 tarball
KDE Connect 0.7.2 Android app on Google Play
KDE Connect 0.7.2 Android app on F-Droid

Edit 29/06/14: Please note that it might take a while for some distributions to release the new version. If you don’t want to compile it yourself, please be patient (and/or poke your distribution packagers until they update it).

Edit 01/07/14: A new minor version of both Android and Plasma been released today, fixing some problems found in the previous 0.7. The links above have been updated.

KDE Connect reaches 10.000 downloads in the Play Store

This is a quick post to say that, the 21st of March, KDE Connect reached the awesome number of 10.000 downloads in the Play Store! Yay! \o/

I’m very happy of this, specially because I don’t have a lot of time to put into the project at this moment, and I’m happy to see that the users and contributors of KDE Connect are keeping it alive!

And for those that can not or don’t want to use the Google Play Store, remember that KDE Connect is also available in the free store F-Droid, thanks to Daniel Martí! Also note that Blackberry 10 users can install KDE Connect on their phones this way, taking advantage of the compatibility with Android apps :)

Collaborate with KDE Connect

I’ve been busy (and will be for some months) with my degree final thesis, and KDE Connect is suffering it with a development slow-down. However, we have received emails from people willing to help and I think that your contributions can be a good way to re-activate KDE Connect’s development. So, this post is for all of you who want to help!

First of all I want to post our own to-do list for KDE Connect, ordered by difficulty from easy to hard. Most of those items can be programmed as plugins, so code will be pretty stand-alone . Of course, if you have your own awesome idea you can also contribute it.

  • Input emulation: Use your phone as a touchpad/keyboard. [DONE]
  • Answer SMS from the desktop: maybe integrating it with Telepathy. [WIP]
  • Share from desktop: send files from Dolphin using a context menu service. [DONE]
  • Reverse media controls:  Add remote controls to the plasmoid.
  • Sync stuff: Contacts, Wifi passwords (will need root acces), etc.
  • File browsing: FUSE or KIO slave to access your phone filesystem. [DONE]
  • Call answering: I have no idea if this is possible and will probably need root access.
  • Port to other platforms: Windows (it already builds using KDE Windows!), iPhone, Blackberry, Jolla…

For now I think we can use this post comments to publicly discuss any issue and organize the development. If there is enough people involved I will set up a mailing list.

And finally I would like to explain to people not from KDE how to contribute to KDE Connect or any other KDE project. To get involved in KDE is easy: We use a tool called review board to submit patches to projects. This allows the project maintainer to review the code, ask for any modifications and finally integrate it into the development branch. After you submit a few patches and they are accepted, you can ask for a developer account so you can push your changes directly (even though you should always use the review board anyway). Remember that patches should be as atomic  as possible, and not include more than one feature.

In the KDE Projects site you will find the URIs of the different GIT repositories to grab the sources and start coding. Non-stable projects, like KDE Connect, are in the “Playground” category. And also remember that KDE Connect has two different repositories: kdeconnect-kde and kdeconnect-android.

Happy hacking!

October 14th 2014: Updated post to reflect the things that have been implemented already!