More about Nuntius

On Friday Paolo Borelli introduced Nuntius, the small project we’ve been working on to display android notifications on a GNOME desktop.

The feedback we got in these days has been great and it is energizing to receive comments, suggestions, bug reports and even patches! Thank you!
It is probably a good idea to clarify some things and reply to some frequent questions we received.

First of all we want to stress again that what is available today is basically a prototype: as soon as we had something able to connect and show the notifications we went ahead and published it because we think “release early, release often” is the best strategy when it comes to free software. Until yesterday it was not even set up to be translated, thought that is now fixed (hint hint!).

  • Scope: we think better integration between GNOME and smartphone is a very interesting area where a lot of features could be added. People suggested being able to send SMS from your desktop application, being able to answer phone calls through a headset connected to the PC, being able to send notifications to the phone when some events occur, etc. These are all things which I would love to see in GNOME, but I am not sure they belong in Nuntius: for now we think we should focus on one thing: showing phone notifications. Should these other features be part of Nuntius? Should they be programs that complement Nuntius? Should they be part of a larger effort that supersedes Nuntius? Just jump in and help us out to shape the answer to these questions!
  • Bluetooth: we selected bluetooth instead of wifi because it seemed a natural fit for the task: it gives us discovery and pairing of devices out of the box, it gives us a meaningful concept of “proximity” and in our understanding it uses way less power (we do not have hard data, but we keep Nuntius running on our phone and we do not see it show up among the top apps using the battery). The fact that wearables like smart watches use bluetooth seemed to validate our choice. With that said, we have not ruled out also using wifi and help in that direction is more than welcome: for instance we also hit a technical snag in our initial test using plain TCP: the communication would be interrupted once the phone suspends… I am pretty sure this is solvable, but we did not investigate.
  • Why not KDE-connect? the very simple answer is that we did not know about it… Nuntius is a fun project born in front of the coffee machine because we wanted to learn something about android and at the same time do something that we would use every day. We did not spend much time researching existing things, we just went ahead, fired up an editor and started a prototype. Now that we do know about it, we will surely check it out… that’s the beauty of free software!
  • Why not a standard protocol? Once again we did not research much, so I would not be surprised if we missed something and if you have any pointers they are very welcome… Our understanding is that there is a Bluetooth profile for notifications, but glancing at the spec, it is much more limited than what we need (e.g. it tells you how many notifications you have, but not the content)
  • What about iOS? Once again the answer is surprisingly simple: we do not have an iOS device, but if someone wants to start a nuntius-ios project, we would love to integrate it
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24 Responses to More about Nuntius

  1. Alexander E. Patrakov says:

    Bluetooth does have some of the “discovery and pairing” functionality built-in, and that’s good. The problem with Bluetooth is that it is almost never available on desktops – and here in Russia, desktops are still more popular than laptops, especially among gamers.

  2. pablo says:

    Did you know about DeskCon? You can find it in https://github.com/screenfreeze

    Do you think it can be useful?

    • Ronan Nello says:

      It does not use TLS as it actually say…
      I’ve read about KDEConnect security implementation and what i conclude from read in the comment is that “only reinvent crypto if you’re a cryptographer”.
      It’s actually what DeskCon do, i don’t think it’s security protocol can be trusted.
      KDEConnect Source Could be helpfull i think.

  3. Markus S. says:

    I really hope you adopt KDE Connect’s protocol and implement a kick-ass Gnome front-end for it.
    KDE Connect is so much ahead of simple notification sharing (e.g. pausing MPRIS2-compliant media players, phone as touchpad, etc.).
    Even tough it started as WiFi-only tool, a Bluetooth back-end is also in the works: https://projects.kde.org/projects/playground/base/kdeconnect-kde/repository/revisions/150222fccac7427e1ad755b3c66526d654132913

    The developers are also eager to accept patches to make the back-end service at least Qt-only.

  4. Fernando Teles says:

    pardon the English Google Translator. I don’t speak English.

    I agree with Alexander, in Brazil Bluetooth is not so used. Different from Wi-fi.
    But I’m here to congratulate them for the project, I am eager to use it. Thank you very much for your contributions.

  5. Ronan Nello says:

    My point of view is that we already have wifi (or wired connection) enabled on both device so bluetooth is not the best option in term of energy.
    Wifi is too faster than bluetooth and allow more distance between the PC and the smartphone. And it will be more easier to allow flexibility to this project. (like the sms feature).
    Also, i think that starting from scratch another project will be the best option : this app is designed to support bluetooth not wifi.
    I would really like to work/help on a project like that.

  6. Tobias says:

    A feature I would like to see is to use the Smartphone as an GPS for GeoClue.

  7. Florian says:

    This is absolute a project I’d love to be part of in case the main goal is to connect phones and GNOME in general. Already read a bunch of neat suggestions. I’d even consider giving up my 10 year old phone for that. (It has an integrated flash-light, which is right now a superior feature in comparison with everything a modern phone offers as they do not integrate into my desktop nicely.)

  8. liam says:

    On the gnome side you can make use of avahi, and on the android side you’d use Network Service Discovery.

    • Ignacio Casal Quinteiro says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, as pointed out on the post this is an early version and we have already opened a ticket about the wifi support. Whenever we have time or someone does the work (tip tip) we will get this feature.

  9. If you finally interested to implement KDEConnect protocol instead of continuing nuntius, there are already glib and vala based project that already do, it will be better if you are join forces or something.
    https://github.com/bboozzoo/mconnect

    • Luke says:

      I installed mconnect from source and it works great. I definitely think you guys should take that as a starting point at work with the KDE connect protocol.

      Mconnect is perfect, Vala + GLIB and the hard work is done!

    • Xavier Bestel says:

      +1, don’t just fall for the NIH syndrome !

  10. Anjum Kaiser says:

    I think you should work with KDE on this, i use both Gnome and KDE actively, and it would be a lot better to use a single app installed on phone providing all sorts of functionality to any desktop. KDE connect already has a lead on this and I think you should use that functionality moving ahead so features of one can benefit everyone else just like DBus did.

  11. Niklas Rosenqvist says:

    It would be awesome if this could actually be a part of GNOME-Shell and if it was based on a shared protocol between KDE-Connect and Nuntius. In that case it would be as simple as to install a “companion app” on your smartphone called something like “GNOME companion” and it would integrate with all the shell features. An obscure app with a name that doesn’t explain what it does would make it hard to discover for non-developer users.

    • Ignacio Casal Quinteiro says:

      Well, once we reach to a point where the integration is becoming better I guess it would not be a matter of the name but a matter of the gnome initial setup to suggest to install such an app. Whether it is called nuntius or something else that will have to be discussed. But for now as we said we are on the early stage.

  12. medeoTL says:

    Trying to guess why i can’t find nuntius neither in my f21 repos nor on my android 4.1.2 phone… I’m in Italy for what is worth.

    • Ignacio Casal Quinteiro says:

      Ciao, you need at least android 4.3 and on the README we added a comment about fedora. It is in koji for now, will for sure get into the repos soon.

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