I've been asked a lot recently about the mobile iOS and Android device screen sharing utilities I use for blogs, presentations and screen casts and wanted to take a moment to share what I've been using. These kinds of utilities have become a regular (and essential) part of my workflow in so many ways. Being a part of a distributed team, they make it possible to share what an actual device is doing over a Google Hangout. As a writer and speaker, they free me from having to use only simulators (and perhaps provide some tension and excitement as I hope that my app actually works on the device when I'm presenting!). So - what do I use?
For Android devices, I use a handy (& free!) jar file called "Droid@Screen". You read that correctly - I said "jar file" – so you'll need Java installed (but I assume you already have it if you're building Android apps). The Droid@Screen website has great instructions on getting up and running - so I won't repeat those here. However, I will share a couple of useful bits to save you some time.
You Need to Enable USB Debugging on Your Device
The instructions I linked to mention this as well. However, what they fail to mention is that newer versions of Android (4.2+) don't automatically show the "Settings -> Developer Options" menu. Jason Cipriani has a post explaining how to get the Developer Options menu to appear.
Aliases are Good
Once you've followed the instructions to get Droid@Screen installed, you can run this command in your terminal to start it (assuming we're in the directory where the .jar file is located):
java -jar droidAtScreen-1.0.1.jar
Bash history or not, I don't want to have to type this out every time! If you're on Mac OS X or Linux (or using a bash emulator on Windows), you can create an alias. I downloaded Droid@Screen to my
~/Downloads folder and then created an alias by adding this to my .bashrc (if you're using a Mac, you can add it to your
alias das="java -jar ~/Downloads/droidAtScreen-1.0.1.jar"
Now - all you have to do is type
das and Droid@Screen will launch.
Ok – so, you've installed Droid@Screen, enabled USB debugging on your device - and maybe even created an alias – how do we use it?
- First - connect your device via USB.
- Second - run the above command (or your alias for it)
- Profit! (and by "profit" I mean, enjoy using it)
What Can We Do With It?
Here's a quick video of using Droid@Screen, showing the highlights of what it can do:
If you own an Apple device, you are probably familiar with AirPlay - which allows you to stream video & audio from an AirPlay-capable device to another. Reflector is an app that takes advantage of AirPlay to mirror your iPhone/iPad device screens to your Mac and PC (and the Windows users rejoiced, right?). One thing to note: while Reflector is free to try, the paid app costs $12.99. I can honestly say that it's earned that and much more back since I've bought it.
- The installation process is very simple - just install the app for your platform.
- Next, verify that your Mac/PC and iOS device are on the same wifi network and then launch Reflector (Windows users, make sure Windows Firewall isn't blocking it).
- Start AirPlay mirroring on your iOS device. I use iOS 7, so AirPlay can be accessed by swiping up to open the Control Center. If you're using iOS 6, you need to double tap the home buttom and scroll to the left until you see the AirPlay icon. The Reflector site provides this as a handy reference (iOS 7 on the left, iOS 6 on the right):
- Tap the AirPlay icon and select the target machine (where you want your device's screen to appear) and then turn "Mirroring" to "On" (again – iOS 7 on the left, iOS 6 on the right):
What Can We Do With It?
Here's a quick video of using Reflector, like our other video, showing the highlights:
These are just a couple of utilities I've been using over the last few months. I'd love to hear of any alternative screen viewers (or any utilities in general) you've found helpful while writing mobile apps!