TL:DR – RIP SOTI PocketController, does not work with M+ and the official SOTI reply is “not supported anymore”. Anyone knows another stable tool?
Android (compared to WM/CE) always had problems with remote control applications. In WM/CE the remote screen/mouse/keyboard functionality was a part of ActiveSync protocol. So there was plenty of tools differing mainly by the UI and extra features. My favorite was MyMobiler – small, compact and functional.
Android deems remote access to screen & keyboard insecure, prompting spyware such as screen scrapers, keyloggers and overall device hijack. None of the modern mobile OSes (Android, iOS, WP/WM10) allow that.
There are workarounds, of course. For instance, Android’s ADB allows taking screenshots and running shell commands that would simulate input. One could build a tool just out of this. However, things change with every Android release. As such finding a stable tool was always a challenge.
Until SOTI (one of the leading MDM/EMM providers in the rugged space) introduced the Android version of their PocketController. The old WM/CE/Blackberry versions of PocketController were paid, but the Android one is free. Moreover, there is a special build for Zebra/Motorola/Symbol devices! And most importantly – this is the only tool I’ve seen so far that was 99.9% problem-free!
I loved it so much I had included it as a recommended tool in Zebra’s official Android training (MCGEN-3001, Deploying Android in the Enterprise).
Alas, all good things come to an end. I had recently tried PocketController with the TC51, running Android 6 Marshmallow, and it failed to run. Analysis of logcat showed this:
E/sotindk(5328): RC+: Error 2 loading /data/data/net.soti.pocketcontroller.motorola/lib/libandroid_plus_ll.so for Android API level 23
Being an NDK app, Pocket Controller needs to be rebuilt for every new version of Android API. When I turned to SOTI support asking when will they release an updated build, I got this statement:
Pocket controller is no longer being updated by SOTI so there is no support after that latest update in regards to any device or OS that has not been applied to the current versions of PocketController this is becuase MobiControl is a far superior product.
So, there you go. While MobiControl is cool, it is a full-blown EMM solution of much greater complexity and $$. Just don’t get me wrong, PocketController still is my recommendation for dealing with Android <=5.1, but if you know another stable and functional alternative that works with 6.0+ – please let me know!