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HTC Sensation Android Smartphone with ICS (Undocumented Features) : Part 4

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Introduction:

This article is a continuation of my previous articles:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Programming/Languages/Java/Android/A_10453-Android-Smartphone-with-ICS-Undocumented-Features-Part-1.html
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Digital_Living/Hardware/Cell_Phones/A_10591-HTC-Sensation-Android-Smartphone-with-ICS-Undocumented-Features-Part-2.html
HTC Sensation Android Smartphone with ICS (Undocumented Features) : Part 3

It may be worthwhile to go through the previous Parts also before reading this one.

In this article, I will be concentrating on sharing files with the HTC Sensation and Windows 7 via Wifi. This article can be used as a general guideline for most Android ICS phones but most of my Screenshots will display an HTC screen. They may look a little different on other phones but the basic menu structure is always the same and you can reach your goal using the advice accordingly.

Disclaimer:

All images and names used in this Article belong to the respective manufacturers' devices and have been altered only to make it easier to perform steps as explained in the article. I do not own them nor do I have any interest in taking ownership of the same. I am using them here so that the reader can easily follow what I want to say.

Managing files on the Htc Sensation - other methods:

In order to manage files, there exist plenty of ways to connect your Android phone which include USB cable and Bluetooth. They are both simple and elegant but USB requires a cable that may not be in your possession; Bluetooth supports file sharing but files can only be sent one at a time.

Bluetooth does allow sharing multiple files over FTP but I was not able to make it work, since my Windows 7 laptop did not support FTP over Bluetooth.

Wifi networks:

Just for the sake of clarity, I'd like to brief about the two different types of Wifi Networks.

The most prevalent / common type of Wifi network found everywhere is an infrastructure network. The prime reason for the creation of an infrastructure network is to provide clients with internet access.

The other type of wifi network type that exists is an ad hoc network that is primarily used for sharing files / resources between clients.

Android & ad hoc networks:

One big drawback with Android is that it does not support ad hoc networks. If you scan for Wifi networks on an Android Operating System (OS), it will only list infrastructure networks in its list of available networks.

Even if it detects an ad hoc network, it is simply not shown as it is not supported. There are applications that allow you to display ad hoc networks too and connect to them but they require root access, include a lot of risk and involve steps which the average user may not be comfortable with.

Had Android been able to connect to ad hoc networks, a step or two in this article could have been eliminated.

File Sharing:

Though an ad hoc network is designed to share files, you cannot say that sharing files between clients is not possible in an infrastructure network. Depending on the configuration of the routing device (Access Point - AP), if the clients are able to see each other, it is possible to share files with the proper permissions. However, a lot depends on how the access point treats the clients that are connected to it.

Most of the access points connect their clients like a hub (a simple networking device that broadcasts all network traffic -  meaning every node is able to see every packet on the network and has to respond only if the broadcast packet is addressed to it, else simply ignore the packet). Windows file sharing requires that all connected clients be able to transparently see and communicate with each other.

Android File Manager:

Overall Android is a very good and elegantly designed OS but what it lacks is the presence of a native File Manager (that you can always find in any other Mobile Phone Operating System).

However, there are plenty of options in the Google Play Store (a service featuring Applications / Widgets for your Android phone) from which you can download and install a File Manager to browse and manage files on an Android OS.

I will be using ES File Explorer, which you can download from here. In case the link is broken, go the Google Play Store on your Android Phone and search for ES File Explorer and it should be the first hit. Go ahead and install ES File Explorer.

There are plenty of File Managers to try (and some may even be better than ES File Explorer) but I have been using it for a long time and am likely to stick with it.

Creating an infrastructure AP in Windows 7:

Windows 7 includes support to create an infrastructure AP via the Command Line Interface (CLI) but I'd like to recommend a free Graphical User Interface (GUI) utility to simplify things. This is a very small program called mhotspot and you can download it from here.

The primary purpose of this application is to share your LAN or USB internet connection by creating an infrastructure AP but we will be using it to share files on a Windows network, quite contrary to the actual function of the program.

Install it on your Windows 7 OS. Older operating systems like Windows XP and Vista are not supported at the moment but the author of the program is working to support them too.
 
Windows 7 and File Sharing:

Sharing files on a Windows 7 OS is pretty easy. Just make sure that the following conditions are satisfied.

1.  Set the permission to everyone for Shared files. This can be done as follows: Browse to the  file or folder you wish to share using Windows Explorer. Select "Share with" from the Toolbar > "Specific People" > "Everyone" from the list of available options. Click "Add". Finally click "Share" to complete the process.

Windows 7 File Share procedure Picture 1Windows 7 File Share procedure Picture 2Windows 7 File Share procedure Picture 3Windows 7 File Share procedure Picture 4Windows 7 File Share procedure Picture 5
2.  Create a password for your Windows User Account (in case you don't have a password set for your Windows Account).

Create a Password for your User Account in Windows 7
3.  Reboot your Windows system. I know this may not be necessary but a two minute reboot clears a lot of unexplained headaches that may occur in Windows Networking.

4.  Make sure the network location selected is Home or Work (but not public). The first time you create your Wifi hotspot, Windows will automatically ask you to provide the "Network Location".

Android Phone setup to view shared files:

Start mhotspot and create a Wifi hotspot. If mhotspot gives an error, make sure your Wifi card is connected and enabled (powered on, if there is a physical switch). On your Android phone turn on Wifi and connect to your newly created Windows 7 hotspot.

Open ES File Explorer. Click LAN > New > Scan > Select your PC (192.168.173.1 in most cases) > Enter your Windows Username and Password. The next screen will list your Windows Shares.

Tap and hold any file or folder to bring up the list of available operations. Note that the options list is actually longer than displayed and you may need to hold and drag it up and down to view all the available options.

In case you do not receive a Windows Logon dialog box or there is a problem with shares displaying despite following all steps correctly, restart your phone.

ES File Explorer Steps to view Windows Shares 1ES File Explorer Steps to view Windows Shares 2
One big advantage here is that if multiple PCs are present in your LAN all connected to a wireless router, then you will see multiple icons in place of one after scanning.

In that case you must know your PC's IP address in advance. This can be known by typing cmd (in the search field of the Start Menu) that opens the command window > ipconfig (press Enter) > Note the value of IPv4 address under Ethernet Adapter Local Area Connection.
 
Closing Comments:

I have always been fascinated by the idea of a wire-free world and this article brings forward that part of me. However, one should always remember that wireless will always be slower than a wired connection.

The slowness is because wireless has 20% additional overhead in data transmission and data lost in the air or that arrived with errors is bound to be transmitted again; thus, downsizing the volume of data transferred.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you found it helpful, please vote "Yes". Feel free to post a comment if you have anything to share.

Ravi
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by:Eric AKA Netminder
grtraders,

Congratulations! Your article has been published.

ericpete
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by:Eric AKA Netminder
grtraders,

Your article has been awarded EE-Approved status and points. Congratulations again.

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