If you’re like me, you carry all sorts of files on your smartphone, even those that you don’t necessarily need or use. It’s my way of bypassing thumb drives that I often lose or forget, and it has worked pretty well over the past year. But while I’ve solved this problem, I now have another: how do I access my phone’s files on a computer, with minimal fuss?
Enter Shynk. It’s a simple Web and Android app combo that allows you to access your phone’s files from any internet-enabled desktop, without having to be on the same network. Shynk also packs a text messenger to read and reply to your SMS messages. And it’s all secure — AES 256-bit secure. So is it time to ditch your thumb drive? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
With Shynk, you can view, download, and modify files on your phone from any computer provided both are connected to the web. You can also check and reply to your SMS messages and even run a server on your phone! The app is free and works with devices running Android 2.0 and up.
To begin using Shynk, you’ll need to first create an account online at the app’s website. Once you’ve done that, you can login to the app on your phone to connect to the service. Then, you can log in to Shynk’s site from any web browser anywhere and access your phone’s files and texts, without being on the same Wi-Fi network.
Shynk allows you to view all your phone’s files — including those on the device’s internal memory — and interact with them in a bare-bones explorer interface. You can download and view files, as well as rename and delete them. Sadly, you can’t select a bunch of files to work with simultaneously.
Want to share a file quickly? You can do so by generating a link and pasting it in an email or by sharing it on social networks. The file will only be available to those who receive your link. Files that you download and share are temporarily stored on Shynk’s servers, but removed shortly thereafter. While this process is simple, it does come with a catch — images will carry a watermark, which is downright annoying considering a paid plan (with watermark removal) hasn’t yet been launched.
Texting With Shynk
If you’re tired of typing on your touchscreen device, try Shynk’s Text Messenger. You can pick up right where you left off a conversation, selecting from a few of your most recent ones. Pulling up a conversation shows it in the window alongside your recent contacts list, where it’s displayed like a web chat.
This bit works fine, but the contact search is really buggy at present — I tried several times to pull up contacts but had no luck, as the search would sometimes return zero results or do nothing when it did manage to find a contact. One can only hope that this will be fixed in the next update.
Shynk’s web interface allows you to run a server on your phone, which means that you could serve content from your phone to web users. Essentially, you could share files, run websites or even operate a mail server right from your phone. The process is fairly simple with Shynk, and they also include a handy setup guide to help you along the way.
While Shynk is currently low on features, I can see it being useful in a number of situations, particularly because I carry several files on my phone and don’t really enjoy typing on a touchscreen:
- Clearing out files to make room on your phone’s memory card is much easier on a desktop interface
- Texting is easier and faster with a full keyboard
- Sharing files that you’re carrying on your phone negates the need for a thumb drive
- Accessing your phone when you’ve left it behind at the office or at home is a life-saver, especially since Shynk doesn’t require you to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
However, Shynk doesn’t do as good a job of handling these scenarios as well as one would like it to. The web interface feels dated, restricts the simultaneous download and manipulation of multiple files, does a poor job of file sharing and has a buggy texting component.
There are also plenty of things that this app could do but doesn’t:
- Help you locate your phone by causing it to ring/vibrate
- Manage your text messages (export, delete, etc.)
- Upload files to your phone remotely.
These are fairly basic features that would have made Shynk worth the trouble of installing and using. It also doesn’t help that the app faces stiff competition from Airdroid — that we reviewed last year — which allows you to manage your phone from your desktop. Airdroid comes with a gorgeous interface and a boatload of features including remote app installation, music and video playback, and even clipboard management.
The only thing that keeps AirDroid from competing directly with Shynk is the requirement of your devices being on the same network — and I imagine there’d be very few instances where I wouldn’t have my phone or can’t connect to a Wi-Fi network with my phone when internet access is available. Given this important distinction between both apps, Shynk doesn’t really make the best of its advantage by adding the above-mentioned essential features, or by implementing its current features well enough.
Shynk’s website mentions that there’ll soon be a paid plan called Shynk Plus, with access to additional options including folder download, screenshots and removal of watermarks. It hasn’t yet been launched, but it sounds like it’ll make a compelling case for the app.
Shynk is a wonderful idea, but I rarely use it because of the lack of features and the quality of the app at present. If you’re looking for a way to manage your phone via your desktop, I’d recommend AirDroid. Still, there are cases where Shynk may be useful, and it might be worth keeping an eye on to check out the new features that will come with its paid plan.