Android Receiver

Android notifier is a great little app I just recently found on the marketplace. What it does is use your wifi network or a bluetooth connection to send out a broadcast when certain events happen on your phone.

The idea is to have a companion application running on your computer to listen for the event and pass along the message via some notification system: Growl on Windows/Mac and (I think) gnome-dbus on Linux.

This means your phone can be charging in the other room while you’re at your computer and you’ll get a nice notification on your desktop when someone’s calling you or you get a text.

This is great and all but totally not worth the Gnome or bluetooth library dependencies to get going on Linux. After a brief look at the project’s wiki however I knew I could do something simpler.

I was able to put together two scripts I had already in place to achieve a dead-simple android-receiver on my desktop. The first was a script call ncom which used netcat to send commands across a network and execute them on another machine. The second, bashnotify, was something I was playing around with to get pop-up notifications on track changes in mpd.


From the project wiki, I found out that the application will send a broadcast packet on port 10600 in a specific format. After some playing around with test messages I was able to put together the following which successfully echod back the message text in a terminal.

while read -d $'\0'; do
  echo $REPLY
done < <(netcat -z -u -l -p 10600 localhost)

The incoming message doesn’t end with a newline but rather a null character. That’s why using read -d $'\0' and netcats -z option is required. I also found out that I wasn’t getting anything from TCP even though the android app should be broadcasting with both protocols. Using UDP via the -u option seems stable so far.


I took the dzen code present in bashnotify and tweaked it a little bit so that the notification temporarily covers my entire status bar and shows the message text:

handle_dzen() {
  local message="$*"

  # dzen settings
  local pipe='/tmp/android-receiver.fifo'
  local delay=4
  local x_offset=0
  local y_offset=0
  local height=17
  local font='Verdana-8'
  local foreground='#ffffba'
  local background='#303030'

  if [[ ! -e "$pipe" ]]; then
    mkfifo "$pipe"
    (dzen2 -ta l -h $height -x $x_offset -y $y_offset \
        -fn "$font" -bg $background -fg $foreground < "$pipe"; rm -f "$pipe") &

  # todo: make this prettier
  (echo "$message"; sleep $delay) >> "$pipe"

And there you go.

The end product is no longer moving my charger away from its normal spot because I’m expecting a call. Instead, I’ll see this:

Android Receiver Screenshot 

The source for this script can be found in my github.

In my continued attempts to learn some C, I decided to combine the netcat and message parsing functions of the above into a small C app.

The end result is a nice little program that you can find here. It handles binding to the port, parsing and formatting the message, then handing it off as the first argument to a handler script which is in charge of actually displaying the notification to the user.

To match this functionality, I’ve culled the original script down to only the handle_dzen() function and renamed it to dzen-handler such that it can be used by any application that wants to toss up a brief notification. This script is also available in that android-receiver repo.

11 Dec 2010, tagged with android, linux