How many times have you wished an app you frequently use on your smartphone was available on your PC or Mac? A public transport app, for instance, or even Instagram? Or how often have you wished you could just plug a big screen, keyboard and mouse into your phone?
A product called Android Mirror makes all this possible, for Android phones at least.
It lets you attach your smartphone to a PC or Mac and use the computer's monitor, keyboard and mouse with the phone instead.
In effect, it turns your Android smartphone into a tiny PC, taking advantage of the desktop keyboard to type long emails or documents, the big screen to play games or view image galleries, and the mouse for any drawing apps.
Made by Taiwanese accessories company J5 create, Android Mirror is only available for Android phones because Apple doesn't give developers the deep access to the OS that Google does with Android; however, you can mirror your Android phone to an Apple Mac or MacBook.
Android Mirror comes on a USB adapter that connects to your desktop's USB 2.0 port and plugs into your Android phone's microUSB port. You install the software from the USB adapter.
Android Mirror is compelling for several reasons. You can view smartphone-only apps on your PC monitor.
I regularly plug my Galaxy Nexus phone into my PC or MacBook, and a window that mirrors the phone screen opens up on the desktop.
Everything on the phone is then directly accessible via the desktop's keyboard and mouse.
Instagram, which doesn't have a PC or Mac app, is an app I frequently access this way. Local transport apps with train and bus timetables are another. Another compelling feature is that I can now get Google's Android-based magazines or books from Play on my PC.
The only caveat is that while Android Mirror works with Android devices from version 2.3 up, it still needs a driver for each phone.
It has the major smartphones from Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony and other vendors covered, but it's best to check if your Android phone is compatible with it at j5create.com/juc600_samsung.htm.
Get it from the local retailers listed at j5create.com/where-to-buy.html. Prices start from $59.95.