For almost two years now, I have owned both an Android phone and tablet but I have almost never felt like the two devices were working together. Notifications plague them both and still don’t get dismissed from one after I’ve checked them on the other, I have to install third-party apps to get notified on my tablet of new SMS and calls on my phone, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of smart communication between both devices.
Well, that was my opinion until yesterday. I was given an LG G Pad 8.3 review unit and I saw something called QPair on it. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to manually install the app on my own LG G2 to get it to work, but once that was done and the initial setup completed, I was pleasantly impressed. QPair is what I’ve dreamed should happen when I switch between using my phone and tablet. It is not perfect, but it is the most seamless integration I’ve seen so far between two separate Android devices.
Setting the Scene
If you use both an Android phone and tablet, you have probably run into these scenarios quite often:
- You’re in the living room, using your tablet on the couch to browse the internet or read a book, and you indistinctly hear your phone ring in the other room. Do you ignore it as it’s probably another telemarketer, or do you rush to answer it as it might be urgent?
- You’re lying in bed watching a video on your tablet, your phone is on the charger a few feet away. Someone is frantically sending you messages, but the SMS tone on your phone is so short that you end up missing it every time while you’re focused on the video.
- You’re in the kitchen, using your tablet to prepare a delicious meal. You didn’t install WhatsApp, Twitter, or LinkedIn on it because you already have those apps on your phone. One hour later, you finish your epicurean challenge and go grab your phone from the other room only to find dozens of Twitter replies, twenty WhatsApp messages in three different conversations, and a couple of LinkedIn notifications.
- You’ve just seen something interesting while browsing on your phone/tablet, you take a screenshot and save it for later. Only the next time you want to check that screenshot out, you look for it and it’s not there. Ah, wait, I saved it on my phone, not on my tablet! And you exit the Gallery on your tablet, go grab your phone, unlock it, open the Gallery and there it is. Whew!
- You’re away from any known WiFi access points and you need an internet connection on your tablet. You take your phone, find the tethering setting, enable it, then grab your tablet, check that WiFi is on, look for the generated access point, enter the password — only the first time — and connect. When you’re done, you put your tablet down but still have to remember to deactivate tethering on your phone for fear of running your battery dry. It should be simpler, shouldn’t it?
- You open a web page on your phone only to think it’s better if you view it on the tablet, or you’re in a Hangouts conversation on your tablet but need to switch to your phone as you’re about to go out of the house… You lock one device, pick the other, turn it on, then look for the app you were using a few seconds ago to launch it and continue where you left off. It’s not a huge time-waster, but what if your devices streamlined your workflow by knowing which app you need?
If your life is a constant back-and-forth between devices and you keep finding yourself in these kinds of situations, there’s little you can do in most of them. The only one with an available solution is the SMS case thanks to apps like Mighty Text. But other than that, you’re out of luck unless you have QPair on your devices.
Installing and Pairing
If you have compatible Android phones and tablets — I’m guessing the list is limited to LG branded ones, my Nexus 7 isn’t supported for example — you can head to the Play Store and download QPair. The initial pairing is fast and basically requires you to turn bluetooth on both devices, and approve the tablet connection from the phone.
Next, you’ll be able to pick from a list of QPair’s six different features on the tablet counterpart. Each of these also has a subset of specific options you can configure, to tailor them to your needs.
Calls and Messages
With QPair running on both phone and tablet, you will be notified on your tablet of any new calls or messages received on your phone. You can’t answer the phone call over bluetooth, but you can see the caller’s name and number, and either decline it with/without a message or rush to your phone to answer it if it’s urgent. As for messages, they are fully displayed on the tablet with the option to compose a reply immediately.
Social Media Notifications
By enabling WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn — and many more social networks — notifications to carry over, you can leave your phone and move around the house with just the tablet, knowing fully well that you will be alerted if you receive any communication on those services. QPair won’t allow you to act on those notifications, but you get to choose to either ignore them for a while or go grab your phone to answer them promptly.
To be honest, this feature came a bit as a surprise to me. When I had thought of smart integration between phones and tablets, I hadn’t pictured anything else I needed beyond synchronised communications. But QMemo makes sense, a lot of sense actually.
When you use the QMemo — also known as QuickMemo on some LG phones — feature on your device to annotate or crop an important part of a screen, chances are you’re going to need this picture later. QPair automatically shares both your phone’s and tablet’s memos with each other. That way, you can save a map screenshot on your tablet and access it on your phone, or an address on your phone and see it on your tablets, etc…
With QPair’s internet sharing enabled, you won’t have to bother with manually activating the hotspot on your phone, adding it on the tablet, entering the password, or anything. You just flip the switch on your tablet, and everything is done in the background for you on both devices. Disable it on the tablet, and tethering is automatically turned off on your phone to save its battery life. Life altering? Not really. Simple, seamless and cool? You betcha!
When it comes to apps, I have a certain set of phone-specific ones, others that I only install on my tablet, and a vast majority that I use on both devices. QPair’s recent app sticker simply overlays a tiny window whenever you turn any device on, with the icon of the last app you used on your other device — if the app is installed on both. It’s unnecessary at times, but for those moments when you just want to switch from Chrome on your phone to Chrome on your tablet, it’s infinitely cool.
Smart Integration that Works for You
My good friend Antoine Wright and I often debate the lack of real “smarts” in modern smartphones. It’s true that we’re slowly moving from “take a couple of hours to set it up” to “turn it on and it knows what you want” thanks to services like Google Now, but there are still strides to be made to improve integration between devices. I’ve previously argued that Google is taking the first steps in my opinion article Towards a Better Integrated Digital Future, but when it comes to phone-tablet integration, LG has just surpassed Google and lapped them twice with QPair.
At the risk of starting to sound like an LG fangirl — see previous fawning here — QPair pleasantly surprised and impressed me. The feature is leaps ahead of anything else any other manufacturer is doing to make continuous hopping between phones and tablets seamless. It isn’t perfect yet, and part of me yearns for a future where I don’t even have to manually launch QPair on both devices to let the magic flow between them, or where all my files and media are accessible on both devices instantly, but for what it is, and for the first attempt at such an endeavor, QPair sets the benchmark and a comfortable lead over its competitors.
Samsung, Apple, Google, it’s your play now!