In the last year we’ve been asked many times about remote control utilities for Android. When I say “remote control”, I mean a software utility that can allow your PC (or Macbook) to take control over your Android device.

In the Windows world, the domain of controlling one PC by another PC is highly developed as it’s been over 2 decades for this to evolve. It started from PC Anywhere, to remote admin, remote desktop, VNC, TeamViewer and more. But what about controlling the Android?

Only in the last couple of years, when the Android was born and the Android revolution took off, the need for controlling Android remotely arrived.
Android remote control apps
I’ve been trying a couple of apps that supposed to give me control of my Android TV box. I tried apps like Air Droid – Air Droid (somehow reminds me of Apple’s AirDrop service) is a remote control app that allows access to your Android device from Windows, Mac or web. With Air Droid, I was able to transfer files, get screen shots and do other things on my Android box. However, the only thing I really wanted to do there was to take control in a way that I see the Android screen live like if it was next to me. That characteristic doesn’t appear in Air Droid. So I tried other apps that didn’t work or didn’t work good enough or needed rooting and afterwards also didn’t work, till I discovered VMLite VNC Server app. This app seems to do the job. It allowed me to take control of my Android TV box from my PC. Cool! However (yes, there is another “however”), it worked only in the office. Why? Same IP subnet (both IP addresses of my PC and my TV box were in the same network. The problem emerged when I tried to take control of my TV box which was in the office, behind a router, from my PC which was at home. The way to take control is using the IP address of the TV box: in the office there is no problem, but from outside my PC cannot see the internal IP address of the TV box which is in the office. It can see only the external IP address of the router which is the same IP address of every other Android device in my office, hence it cannot reach my TV box at the office. Buying an external IP address only for that TV box is a big expense, so it’s out of the question. I know that there is a way to configure the firewall with a script that can allow the controller of VMLite VNC to reach the TV box by some kind of mapping. This is a magic for me. If someone knows how to configure that, I’ll be more than grateful to learn it(!).

Eventually, I discovered that the good old TeamViewer also have an app to control Android. It is called TeamViewer QuickSupport. This app does the job! You can run or install the good old TeamViewer on your PC (the same utility you use to control one PC by another PC), while on the Android device, you need to install the TeamViewer QuickSupport Android app from the Google Play market. You can have full control like if the Android device was at your feet, transfer files, etc.

However (sorry, this is my last “however” in this article), in case you want to take control of the Android device, even if you know the device TeamViewer ID, you still need someone there to press the “Allow” button, in order to start the session. More than that, you need someone to start the app as it doesn’t have auto start in case the Android device restarted. So, in case of Android digital signage, if you want to control a remote Android player at a customer’s venue, you’ll still need the customer to start the app there and press the “Allow” button for you.

In time, I guess we’ll see some more improvements for the Android remote control apps. Till then, I’ll keep watching science fiction movies…