We were supposed to be living in a wireless future, but we’re not quite there yet. Still, many things we do with cables don’t actually require cables anymore — you can go wire-free with just a few tweaks.
There are still reasons you might feel you have to connect your phone to your computer or plug in a cable, but those can be avoided with these tricks.
Wireless File Transfers
AirDroid can be used for many things, including texting via your Android phone on your PC like Apple’s iMessage. However, AirDroid also includes a file manager. That file manager allows you to wirelessly transfer files back and forth — for example, moving music files to your phone or transferring photos to your computer — via a web browser or desktop app. It all works entirely wirelessly, and it can work entirely over a local Wi-Fi connection. It basically turns your Android phone into a little web server when you have the application running.
Use Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Other Cloud Storage Services
Rather than using an app like AirDroid, you can always just rely on the cloud storage service of your choice instead — that means something like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft’s OneDrive.
Upload a file to your cloud storage from your phone — possibly using the convenient Android Share buttons you’ll find in nearly every app or a full-featured file manager — and it can automatically sync to your computer. Add a file to your cloud storage on your computer and it’ll appear in the appropriate app on your phone so you can access it from there.
Transfer Photos (and Screenshots) With Dropbox, Google Plus, OneDrive, and More
Photo transfers are even easier than file transfers. Many apps can automatically upload photos you take to a cloud storage service, where they’ll be synchronized to your computer wirelessly. For example, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive both have an “auto-upload” feature that will automatically upload photos you take, and they’ll be synced straight to your PC so you can access them where you need them. Google Plus also has a similar automatic photo upload feature, but the photos you upload will be sent to Google+ Photos and not downloaded automatically to your PC.
These applications treat screenshots the same way, too. You can take a screenshot of your Android phone and it will be automatically uploaded to your cloud storage account and downloaded straight to your computer without any additional taps on your screen, much less a cable.
Use ADB Commands Over a Wireless Connection
Even the ADB command — intended for developers, but also used by enthusiasts who need to unlock root and do various other powerful things to their phones — can be used wirelessly if you don’t want keep your phone connected to a computer.
Unfortunately, this does require a cable to establish the connection. But, after you have, you can disconnect the cable and continue using adb commands wirelessly until you end the adb connection. That means you can control and manipulate your phone from your computer without the cable.
Google’s official adb documentation offers instructions for using adb wirelessly.
Charge Your Phone Wirelessly (or Use a Dock)
RELATED: How Does Wireless Charging Work?
Quite a few Android phones have built-in wireless charging hardware, so you may not even have to plug in your phone when it’s time to juice up its battery. Just get a compatible wireless charger and place your phone on the wireless charger to charge it.
Phones like Google’s own Nexus phones integrate this, and there are ways to add on wireless charging even if your phone doesn’t have it. There’s always the option of a wireless charging case — a case you put your phone in to gain wireless charging — and Samsung’s phones with removable plastic backs and batteries can also often have their backs swapped out for hardware that’s compatible with wireless charging.
Wireless charging is cool and futuristic, but it is less efficient, slower, and surprisingly finicky. You really need to set the phone on the charger in a certain place. You could always skip all that and get a dock you can insert your phone into when it’s time to charge.
Get Bluetooth Headphones
You might still find yourself connecting a pair of headphones to your phone when you need to listen to something, but you don’t have to! You could use a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds to listen to everything wirelessly and avoid all the tangled headphone cables.
You will have to charge the Bluetooth headphones, which is the trade-off. But Bluetooth headphones are getting better and better. Thanks to technologies like Bluetooth low energy, we’re now starting to see wireless earbuds. Some companies were showing them off at CES 2015, and they’ll hopefully come to market this year.
If you want to live in the wire-free future, you can start today. The next time you’re about to pull out a USB cable — or even a charging cable or headphone cable — think about it for a moment. You can probably do what you want to do without the wire.