alpha vnc pro – howto

Alpha vnc pro is designed to project the screen of your Android device (end-device) via internet or local network. You can establish a connection from a support-device (e.g. Computer) either with a VNC client or via browser through the abr Cloud Console. For this howto, Chrome browser through the abr Cloud Console was used.

 

Screen elements

The application main screen consists of the following elements:

main screen image

1 – Start / Stop the VNC session
2 – Main menu (General Settings)
3 – Session settings
4 – Quick help

 

Setup & Configuration

Device setup

Following installation, alpha vnc will ask you to configure the end-device appropriately. Once started, the application will check the correct settings and will assist you to complete the configuration, in case that something is missing.

      • Accessibility

Alpha vnc can project the screen of the end-device “out-of-the-box” and control it with an input utility, when the Accessibility service is activated. The application will ask you to activate the Accessibility service, once started. You can also activate it manually in the settings of the device. abr-solutions guarantees full privacy compliance. No screen content, inputs or other events are monitored.

      • System overlay

Alpha vnc will require the permission to be displayed above all other apps. Whenever a Client is connected, it will show a miniature ‘alpha’ logo on the upper third of the screen. This is a visible indicator that the screen is currently shared and all activities could be monitored. You can also set this permission manually in the settings of the device.

      • Alpha vnc keyboard

Prior to Android 7.0 (Nougat), the software keyboard cannot be accessed directly. In order to provide full soft-keyboard support, alpha vnc has a built-in keyboard, which needs to be activated in the input methods of the system settings. If the device is running on Android prior to 7.0, the application will detect it and automatically ask you to activate the built-in keyboard.
 

Session settings

Click the Session settings icon on the left bottom corner of the main screen, in order to configure the following options:

main screen image

      • Scale percentage

Define the percentage of the display size which will be projected. This way, you can avoid e.g. displaying a large screen in original size, which would lead to a lot of scrolling at the Client side and consume more bandwidth than necessary. Possible values are 25%, 50%, 75% or 100%. The default value is 50%.

      • Screen name

Define the name of the end-device, which will be displayed on the Client side.

      • Port

Define the local port that the VNC server will be running on. Please, note 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

Define a password that needs to be entered on the Client side, in order to be able to establish a connection to the end-device. We strongly recommend setting a Session password!


General settings

Click the 3-dot icon on the top right corner of the main screen, in order to open the main menu. Select Settings in order to open the general settings of the application. The following options can be configured:

main screen image

      • Mobile data warning

The application displays a warning message, if the VNC server is started 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

Alpha vnc has a built-in keyboard, in order to provide full soft keyboard support to Android devices prior to version 7.0 (Nougat). The application displays a warning message on devices with Android OS prior to 7.0, if the VNC server is started while using another keyboard. This option is deactivated by default posterior Android 7.0. and activated by default prior to Android 7.0.

      • Start automatically

On unencrypted devices, alpha vnc can start automatically on start of the device. This option is supported “out-of-the-box” on all devices prior to Android 10 . Posterior Android 10, a “workaround” is provided and an “out-of-the-box” solution is currently being tested. This option is deactivated by default.

      • Restart on connectivity change

Restart alpha vnc, after a lost connection has been re-established. This option is deactivated by default.

      • Autostart on mobile internet

If this option is deactivated, the VNC server will only start if a wireless or LAN connection is available. When you activate it, the server will start automatically also on a mobile internet connection. Since it may cause additional cost on volume based internet contracts, this option is deactivated by default.

      • Auto wake up

The screen of the device will wake up, once a Client is connected. This option is activated by default.

      • Stay awake

The screen of the device will stay awake, as long a Client is connected. This option is activated by default.

      • Unlock screen

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

      • Overlay icon clickable

If the overlay icon is clickable, the application activity can be opened, whenever it is clicked by the end-user. This option is activated by default.

      • Remote console

Alpha vnc pro allows incoming connections from the abr Cloud Console. With this option, you can configure the device connectivity to the abr Cloud. The following settings can be configured:

  1. Android : give to the end-device a distinctive name. Every device has the name Android by default.
  2. Send start stop notification : the device will report its online status to the abr Cloud Console, on START of the application. This option is activated by default.
  3. Allow cloud connection : the abr Cloud Console will be able to establish a connection to the end-device. This option is activated by default.
  4. Require user feedback : the end-user will be asked to allow the connection from the abr Cloud Console, on every connection attempt. This option is activated by default.
  5. Use encrypted connection : the connection will be TLS encrypted. This option is activated by default.

 

Cloud connectivity

In the abr Cloud Console, you need to create an account with the license-key that unlocks the functionality of alpha vnc pro.

main screen image

Network configuration

In order to be able to establish a connection via the abr Cloud, the network of the end-device needs to allow the following connections:

      • https connection (outgoing) to www.abr-solutions.de/*
      • https connection (outgoing) to abrcloud.de/*

 

Connection handling

Start the VNC server

Select the START button on the main screen of alpha vnc, except if you have previously activated the Start automatically option, in which case the VNC server will start automatically on start of the device. An alpha vnc icon will be displayed in the notification area, as an indicator that the VNC server is running.

On START of the application, every licensed device will appear online (“green”) under the Device monitor tile. On STOP of the application, the device will remain in the list and switch to offline mode (“grey”).

You can establish a remote connection to any device that appears online in this list.

main screen image

Connect to the VNC server

If the device is online (green), you can use the Connect to Device button from the device information screen to establish a connection.

Since the Require user feedback option is activated in the general settings, whenever an incoming connection is attempted, a request will be sent to the end-device. The end-user must actively allow it.

When a connection is established, a small alpha vnc icon will appear on the upper center of the display, indicating that a Client 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!

main screen image

Remote control

Alpha vnc allows to control every Android device posterior 5.0 (Lollipop) remotely.

Posterior Android 7.0 (Nougat), the software keyboard is accessible directly and all systems items are clickable! 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.

Keyboard input – Clickable items – Prior to Android 7.0 (Nougat)

The control of devices prior to Android 7.0 (Nougat) has some minimal limitations (due to the strict Android access control system), as a small price for not having to root the device. Minor issues are reported in combination with 3rd party browsers or apps.

The software keyboard cannot be accessed directly. Alpha vnc provides a standard 104-key US keyboard, which needs to be activated in the input methods of the system settings. If the device is running on Android prior to 7.0, the application will detect it and automatically ask you to activate the built-in keyboard.

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
      • End – key: triggers the Power button

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

A license lifts the functional limitations of the application on one end-device. For the licensing of multiple devices, you need a license-key that includes the equal amount of licenses. License-keys can be purchased in our web shop or by contacting our sales team.

When a license-key order is concluded, the downloadable files are delivered for the deployment:
– the alpha vnc pro APK, to install on the end-devices,
– a license key file & a quick activation code (license files), for the licensing
– the alpha vnc pro – Licensing & Configuration Guide (Documentation).

During licensing, an internet connection is necessary on the end-device, for its registration to our management server. In case that a firewall is blocking the connection, the address https://www.abr-solutions.de/* needs to be added in its “white list”.

License (activate) a device

Select the entry Activate device from the 3-dot Main menu. Use the license-files as described in the documentation in order to license one device, that is import the license-key file or scan the quick activation code.

In larger environments, especially in combination with Mobile Device Management systems, alpha vnc pro supports mass deployment & configuration of multiple devices.

Unlicense (deactivate) a device

If you wish to use alpha vnc pro on another device (e.g. when you have just bought a new handset) or before updating/resetting the OS of the existing device, you need to deactivate it from the license-key beforehand! There are 2 ways to deactivate an end-device:

  1. In the main menu (3-dot) of the application: select the entry Unregister device.
  2. In the abr Cloud Console: under the Manage licenses tile, locate the device (by Device ID or by given Device name) in the corresponding license-key group, select it and then tip on the button Unregister device*. You can even deactivate a device which is not physically accessible, e.g. lost or non-operational!

Either way, the device will be unregistered and one license will be “released” from the license-key. The normal licensing procedure must be followed, in order to reactivate the same or another device.

Please, note that you can unregister a device up to 10 times from a license-key! If the maximum number of unregistrations is exceeded, you need to contact our support.

* Do NOT select the button Delete device, if you just wish to deactivate a device, as this will permanently delete it from the device list! If you accidentally chose this option, please contact our support.

 

Technical support

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