As evidenced by our roundup earlier this year, there are a lot of apps and desktop software out there that allow the pairing of an Android smartphone to a Windows or a Mac computer. Most manufacturers (such as Samsung and HTC) even offer their own software, which ships with many of their devices or is downloadable from their website. But most of these are a bloated attempt at an all-in-one solution to syncing.
Certainly, none offer the finesse and reliability afforded by Chrome 28, Google’s newest version of the browser, along with a neat third-party App. Krome, developed by Damien Piwowarski allows all notifications to appear as a ‘rich notification’ in Chrome. But that’s not all. This beautiful app has a few more tricks up its sleeve.
Why You Need Chrome 28 or Above
Visually, there is no difference between the new version of Chrome and previous ones. It looks identical and has all the same functions. However, it now has Rich Notifications which allow for messages to display in the lower right hand corner. It is this function that Krome for Android takes advantage of.
Setting Things Up
Because this app is brand new and uses some experimental features of Chrome, getting things working took me quite a while. The standard setup is this. First, you download the Krome Android app and the Krome extension for Chrome Browser.
Then, from the android app you progress through the set-up steps. This involves giving Krome access to your phone’s notifications and deciding which one to block (such as system notifications). I found this good as there’s no need to receive, say, a notification that an app is being installed from Google Play when you just installed it seconds ago from your desktop browser. It all sounds a little complex but Krome has a very good run-through process which takes less than a minute.
Next, you’ll be asked to pair your device with your browser (which, as I said, must be version 28 or above). The app will generate a unique serial code which must then be entered into the Chrome extension. This will cause your notifications to sync with your browser and your browser only.
From the Krome homescreen I sent a test notification using the small arrow symbol along the top. I got nothing and there clearly was a problem.
Consulting the help section of their website reveals that Chrome 28 needs to have some features enabled. So I typed “ Chrome://flags” into my URL bar and enabled Rich Notifications, Sync Notifications and Google Now. This solved my problem and notifications began to appear.
The main reason I installed Krome was because my phone is constantly demanding my attention when I’m working on my laptop. Most of the time, these are things I would be aware of on my PC anyway such as an email coming through or a Skype message. In this regard Krome is a big time saver and stops procrastination setting in.
For purely mobile functions such as SMS, Krome works wonders. You can respond to texts and other messages right there from your browser in a small unobtrusive reply box and choose whether or not to set messages as ‘read’ on your phone if you respond to them via Krome on your PC. This is a great addition to the app, taking it a step further than just notifications.
A few extra features on Krome also caught my eye. For example, the homescreen will list the most recent notifications sent to Chrome while the tab to the right displays all currently installed apps on your device. You can toggle whether or not you want a specific app’s notifications diverted to your PC.
Frequently, some apps can generate several notifications in a short space of time. The last thing you want is five or six notifications per minute about the same process. Krome allows you to ‘Block Overflow’ to stop sequence notifications over a short period of time.
Another positive aspect of Krome is that its data usage is remarkably small, however if your carrier is particularly expensive you can choose to only use the service over WiFi.
The final feature is one for the security-conscious users. Your notifications are sent in plain text and HTML code. But if you wish, you can encrypt all communication between Krome for Android and the Chrome extension. You simply enter your own random encryption key in the mobile app and the same one in the Chrome extensions settings menu. Once activated, all notifications will be encrypted and only readable by paired browsers with your secret encryption key — awesome!
It’s great to see Android developers making apps for new Chrome features so fast. Krome makes use of a brand new feature and as a result, things might not always work. I had to tinker around a little to get mine working but the Google Play review section is littered with mixed reviews. Virtually all bad reviews stem from the app not displaying notifications so it seems like tech problems could be an issue for some.
However, the app is being constantly updated with issues being rapidly fixed so this problem should subside. And for the majority of users, this is a great app that will give your browser even more power and bridge the gap between it and your phone or tablet.