Polkast is a new app that lets you access files on your PC from a mobile device. First you need to install a desktop app on your PC, and then you can grab the Android app from the Android Market or follow the company’s instructions to get early access to an iOS app. It’s not yet available from the App Store.
I took Polkast for a spin this morning and there are a few things that I really like about the service — and a couple that I don’t.
The desktop app does a great job of instantly scanning your My Documents folder to identify music, pictures, videos, and documents on your PC. You can also add folders if you keep your media in other directories on your desktop. The software has an attractive user interface and you can use the built-in media player to view videos or listen to music.
But as soon as you click on another tab the music or video will stop playing.
When you run the desktop app for the first time it will ask you to create a username and password. All you need to do to access your files on your mobile device is enter the same login information.
The mobile app also has an attractive launch screen. But things get a bit rougher around the edges once you delve into the difference categories.
The music and video lists, for example, don’t feature album art of thumbnail photos. You just get lists of media stored on your PC. You can sort music by album, artist, or song though, while videos are arranged alphabetically by name.
A bigger problem is that you can’t actually stream multimedia content to your mobile device. Instead you have to download a song or video before you can play it. Fortunately you can queue up media to download in the background.
Once you’ve downloaded a media file you can use the app’s built-in player to watch or listen. But if you click the back button to go to another tab, the music stops. There’s also no support for playing music in the background while you’re using another app.
I had a little more luck with the Pictures section, where thumbnail icons for all the photos on my PC showed up quickly. You can also view images without first downloading them to your phone or tablet.
If you want to view Office, text, or other documents though, you’ll need to download those first.
The best think Polkast has going for it is probably the search function which lets you quickly find all the files, photos, videos, pictures, or documents matching a certain search term almost instantly. Unfortunately if you want to do anything other than view a picture you’ll need to download it to your device first.
Overall Polkast has the makings of a truly useful app, and if all you want to do is download your files to your mobile device I can see how it could come in handy. But when you first install the desktop app it suggests you prevent your computer from going to sleep since you won’t be able to access your files when your computer is off.
Since all the app really does is let you download your files on the go, I don’t see much reason to leave your computer on and use Polkast rather than simply copying the files you want to your mobile device before turning off your computer and leaving the house. You’ll save a lot more on your electricity bill that way.