Friday, October 31, 2014

Bridge The Smartphone-Computer Gap with Pushbullet

Smartphones are fantastic. Surely that comes as no surprise. But as great as they are, there are still some incredible limitations to their use. Three in particular come to mind:

  1. The difficulty in typing.
  2. The challenge of transferring files from smartphone to computer and vice versa.
  3. The inherent weaknesses in the phone's camera.
Fortunately – and not to sound too cliche – there are apps for each of these problems. But that's just the problem: apps. Plural. Many. I don't have time to download, learn and use multiple apps. I want one app to address all those issues at once.

Thankfully I've found it: Pushbullet. This free app, available on iOS, Android, web and desktop, has become my most indispensable app and addresses each of those issues.

At its most basic level, Pushbullet works as a mail delivery service between your computer and all your mobile devices. And it's fast. 

Pushbullet can push many types of content to all the devices you register with the service. For instance, I can push a link, file, address or list from my computer to my phone and/or tablet, or the other way around. Once an item has been pushed, it is automatically available for use and download on any device you've hooked up.

Here are some of my favorite uses for Pushbullet:
  1. Photos from computer to phone. In my professional career I am responsible for managing multiple Instagram accounts. Sometimes my phone's camera just doesn't quite cut it. Thanks to Pushbullet I can take a picture on my SLR, edit that photo in Photoshop on my computer, size it and push it to my phone, where I can quickly upload it to Instagram.

  2. Text from computer to phone. Continuing with Instagram convenience, I hate typing the caption in Instagram. The app gives you a microscopic amount of space to type within and before I've finished a sentence the text has already scrolled up and I can't see or remember what I've typed. Plus, it's a giant pain to type on a smartphone keyboard – even with great apps like Swype. So, I type my captions on my computer and push them over to my device. So, with two pushes, I can send a perfectly edited and cropped image and the caption. This speeds up the amount of time I spend playing in Instagram.

  3. Push a URL to your phone. If typing in Instagram is a pain, typing in a URL (especially a long one) on your phone is a nightmare. Don't bother. Let's say you're browsing the web on your computer and find a great site you'd like to send to your phone for use when you're on the road later that day. If you install the Pushbullet extension, you can right-click on any webpage and send that URL to your devices. Then, with one click of the push notification, your device's browser will instantly be taken to that URL.
  4. Push an image from your phone to computer. Often, I want to send an image I took with my phone's camera to my computer. Again, it's a hassle. I don't want to clog up my inbox by sending it over email, Dropbox isn't much faster and using a syncing cable is, well, old school and slow. Pushbullet speeds up the process. Simply push it from phone to computer and a notification pops up. One click later you have your photo. No logging in. No crazy wait times. Just results.
  5. Push addresses. Often I will browse on my computer for a physical address before I head out somewhere. Rather than write it down or email it to myself, I can push the address through Pushbullet. By clicking on the notification, it will load that address in the Google Maps app on my phone. One click later I have directions to my location.

  6. Subscriptions. Recently, Pushbullet rolled out subscriptions to a variety of services. One of my favorites is the ability to be notified of the final score of my favorite sports teams. This is perfect for when I'm stuck in meetings and can't spare a moment to catch a peek at the game. Of course, when my team loses, I kind of hate this feature...
  7. Push to friends. Not only can you use Pushbullet to sync between your devices, you can also push items to friends. Again, this spares the hassle of email or other apps. And it's fast and simple.

All your pushes are saved in your push feed so you can go back at any time and revisit previous pushes.

Without a doubt, this is one app I definitely recommend downloading. It's a massive time saver and I use it all the time.
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