alpha vnc – howto

Alpha vnc is designed to project the screen of your Android device via internet or local network. To establish a connection you need a VNC client, such as UltraVNC or TightVNC , which are available in the web for free. For this howto, the UltraVNC client is used.

Screen elements

The application main screen consists of the following elements:

main screen image

1 – Start / Stop the VNC session

2 – Application main menu

3 – VNC session settings

4 – Quick help

 

Setup & Configuration

Device setup

As soon as alpha vnc is installed, you will be asked to configure your device appropriately. The correct settings will be checked whenever the vnc server is started. The app will assist you complete the configuration, in case that something is missing.

      • Accessibility

Alpha vnc can project your screen out of the box. It is also possible to control the screen with an input utility, by activating the accessibility service in the settings of your device. If the app detects that the accessibility service is not activated, it will ask you to activate it once the server is started. abr solutions guarantees full privacy compliance. No screen content, inputs or other events are monitored.

      • System overlay

Alpha vnc requires the permission to be displayed above all other apps. Whenever a client is connected, alpha vnc will show a miniature alpha logo in the upper third of the screen. This is a visible indicator that the screen is currently shared and all activities could be monitored. The app will ask for this permission automatically. To set the permission manually go to: settings -> apps -> app permissions.

      • Alpha vnc keyboard

Prior Android version 7 (Nougat), the software keyboard cannot be accessed directly. In order to provide full soft-keyboard support, alpha vnc has a built-in keyboard. This keyboard has to be activated in the input methods of the system settings. The app will automatically check the keyboard activation, if activated in the general settings.

Session settings

Clicking the settings icon at the left bottom of the application main screen will open the vnc session settings dialog. Here, the following options can be configured:

main screen image

      • Scale percentage

Defines the percentage of the display size which will be projected. Many screens are very large and displaying them in original size would lead to a lot of scrolling at the client side and also consume more bandwidth than necessary. By choosing the pre-scale option, you can avoid this. Possible values are 25%, 50%, 75% or 100%. The default value is 50%.

      • Screen name

Defines the name which will be displayed on the client side, to identify the connected device.

      • Port

Defines the local port that the vnc server will be running on. Please, notice that the port must be locally available and also open. We recommend using a port between 5901 and 5905. The default value is 5901.

      • Session password

Defines a password that has to be entered on the client side, before a connection to the local device can be established. We strongly recommend setting a password to avoid security issues!

General settings

Clicking the 3-dot icon at the top right of the application main screen will open the main menu. Please, select ‘Settings’ to open the general settings screen. The following settings can be configured:

main screen image

      • Mobile data warning

If this option is activated, the app will display a warning message whenever you try to establish a VNC connection while connected to a mobile network. VNC connections can consume a lot of bandwidth, which might cause additional cost on volume based internet contracts. This option is activated by default.

      • Alpha vnc keyboard warning

In order to provide full soft keyboard support, alpha vnc has a built-in keyboard. If this option is activated, a warning will be shown when you try to establish a VNC connection while using another keyboard. This option is activated by default.

      • Start automatically

This option is only available for unencrypted devices, as a rule prior Android 8 (Oreo). If this option is activated, alpha vnc will start automatically after you start the device. The server will run in the background, until a connection is established. This option is deactivated by default.

      • Autostart on mobile internet

This option is deactivated by default. The vnc server will only start if a wireless or LAN connection is available. If this option is activated, the server will also start automatically on a mobile internet connection, which might cause additional cost on volume based internet contracts.

      • Unlock screen

If this option is activated, the screen of the device will be unlocked once a client has connected. This option is deactivated by default. Please, note that the unlocking will work only if no password or pattern is required to unlock the screen. Please, be aware of the potential risk before disabling any security features!

Connection handling

Starting the server

Start the vnc server by clicking the round START button in the middle of the main screen. If configured, the server will start automatically after the device has been started. An indicator in the notification area is displayed, while the server is running. Whenever a connection from a client is established, a small alpha vnc icon will appear in the upper center of the display, to indicate that somebody is connected to the screen and can observe all activity. The icon will disappear once all clients have disconnected from the screen. This security feature should prevent you from being monitored without noticing.

Connecting to the server

When the server is running, the local IP-address and the port are displayed below the start button. Use this data to establish a connection from your vnc client, by entering the IP-address followed by the colon and the port into the address field of the vnc client. Please make sure that the port, which the server runs on, is open on client side!

Reverse connection

In some cases – especially when connected via mobile internet – a local firewall or private network connection prevents incoming connections to the vnc server. In this case, you can establish a reverse connection to a listening vnc client. To do this, you must start the vnc client in listen mode (please refer to the user manual of the vnc client to learn more). When the vnc client runs in listen mode, you can establish a reverse connection using the IP-address and the port of the listening client.

In order to establish a reverse connection (once the vnc server is running),  find the option “Add reverse client” in the 3-dot context menu at the right top of the main screen. Enter the IP-address and the port of the listening vnc client in the appearing dialog. The recent 20 successful reverse connections are saved and can be restored by pushing the “Show recent” button of the dialog. Click on the Connect button to establish the reverse connection. Please, note that the port for the reverse connection must be opened and – if necessary – forwarded to the listening client. Please, make sure that your network setup is correct, if the connection fails!

Remote control

Controlling your android device

Alpha vnc allows you to control your device remotely. Due to the strict Android access control system, the control of devices prior Android 7 (Nougat) has some minimal limitations, as a small price for not having to root the device. For Android 7 (Nougat) and beyond, all limitations are past! A pointer device (such as a computer mouse) can be used to point & click. The mouse wheel can be used to scroll up & down. One finger swipe gestures are supported.

Please, note that prior Android 7 (Nougat) not all items are clickable and minor issues are reported with certain web-browsers and apps. In individual cases, it was reported that a horizontal swipe gesture could be only achieved through a vertical input gesture on the remote screen. The input control is constantly getting optimized.

Keyboard input

Alpha vnc is using a standard 104 key US layout to transfer keyboard inputs from your local computer to the remote device.

Posterior Android 7 (Nougat), the software keyboard is accessible directly.

Prior Android 7 (Nougat), the alpha vnc keyboard can be activated in the input settings and selected as the currently active keyboard. Please, note that – prior Android 7 (Nougat) – system items like the Back, Home or Recent button are not clickable directly. To access those items, alpha vnc provides the following shortcuts:

      • ESC – key:  triggers the Back button
      • home / pos1 key:  triggers the Home key
      • page down – key : opens the notification area on top of the screen
      • page up – key : triggers the Recent apps

Copy & paste

You can copy text from your local computer to the remote device. Copy the text as usual from your local computer and paste it into the remote device with the key combination Ctrl+V

Licensing

Alpha vnc is licensed by in app purchase through Google Play. The license is bound to a Google account or alternatively another email address. If you don’t have the Google Play services available please contact our support for further options.

Activating the license for a device

Please select the entry “Purchase license” from the application main menu to start the licensing process. The app will display a popup to select the Google account that will be used for licensing. If you don’t want to use a Google account for licensing you can cancel the dialog. In this case you can use any valid email address for licensing. In the next step the Google Play in app purchase procedure will start. Please complete the in app purchase to activate the license. If you purchased a multi license package or deactivated the license for another device. The Google Play in app purchase process will be skipped and your device will be licensed immediately.

Deactivating a device

If you wish to use alpha vnc on another device (e.g. when you have just bought a new handset), you can unregister the old device by clicking on the entry “Unregister device” of the main menu. Your license will then be opened to be activated on another device. Please, note that you can unregister a device up to 7 times! After the maximum number of unregistrations is exceeded and you wish to unregister the same device again, please contact our support.

Technical support

Our technical support will be glad to assist you on all technical questions. Please use our contact form to get in touch!