Last week in our Android customization series we took a look at how to push Android notifications to your computer screen using one of our favorite productivity apps, Pushbullet. As an extra, we tossed in that Pushbullet will let you handle your SMS right from your PC, so we wanted to take a look at a few other apps that can do the same for you.
In this mini app shootout, we will look at how to use Airdroid, DeskSMS, MightyText, MySMS and PushBullet to send and receive SMS through your computer and even from your WiFi only Tablet.
Before we get started
Today’s collection of apps vary in function and price. More importantly, some are made specifically to sync SMS between your PC and your Android phone, while others are designed for other purposes, but happen to be able to also tackle SMS.
Having installed all 5 on my device at the same time, I promise you, you are going to want to only try one or two at a time yourself. Things got a little crazy around here. Check out below what the apps have to offer, then I recommend grabbing the one that looks best to you.
Fair warning folks, we are skipping our usual in-depth step-by-step instructions today, instead, we’re cramming more apps in and looking at things from a general overview. But don’t worry, each of the apps has its own instructions that are easy enough to follow for these relatively easy to configure tools.
Airdroid is free in the Google Play Store. It offers a premium service for a monthly fee that provides access across networks and a few extras. But we don’t think you’ll need them.
Airdroid is an impressive productivity app, it allows you to do so much more than just send and receive SMS through your PC, allowing you to access files from your Android device and even take remote control of a few aspects of your Android gear. Airdroid has been mentioned a few times before here on the site, most recently as a tool to remotely clear your microSD card before using Android Device Manager to factory reset your device.
To use Airdroid for your SMS, follow Airdroid’s fairly simple and bulletproof instructions on your phone to connect your PC to your Android device. From there, click into the Messages section of Airdroid on your PC and enjoy.
DeskSMS is free in the Google Play Store. While the app may be free, the service will run a small fee to go beyond a short trial period.
DeskSMS is brought to you by Koushik Dutta, a popular Android app developer responsible for a number of unique and powerfully productive apps, such as Helium backup, Clockword Mod ROM manager and AllCast. DeskSMS is one of those apps specifically built to handle your SMS through the computer.
DeskSMS takes the approach of piggybacking on top of your other communication tools. In short, you send a chat or email message from your PC and it will translate into an SMS message through your Android device.
MightyText is another popular app that is focus built for SMS management through your computer. MightyText focuses on handling your messages through a web browser, providing a web page for you to visit, from which all of your messages are synced between PC and Android device. Simply follow the setup instruction in the Android app and you’ll be up and running in a few clicks.
MySMS is free in the Google Play Store. A premium option is available that brings sync across devices, backup into cloud services, export to a text file and more.
MySMS is another option that utilizes a web page to access and control your SMS off your Android phone. Startup the app and log in on your Android device, follow the instructions through and it will provide the local URL that you’ll need to access on your PC.
PushBullet is free in the Google Play Store. Not only is there no extra fees to worry about, but Pushbullet offers APIs that allow you to build your own apps and programs to operate on their service.
Pushbullet, as we discussed last week, was originally designed to push files, URLs and more between your Android device and PC. As Pushbullet grew, and Android itself became more versatile, Pushbullet took on the ability to push your Android notifications to your PC and handle your SMS.
If you followed along last week, you’ve already got Pushbullet installed on device and the browser extension setup and rolling. There is nothing more to do here, Pushbullet on your PC will automatically handle SMS notifications in a way that allows you to respond to sender.
Google Hangouts. The keen observer noticed that I did not include Hangouts in this list today. This was a tough decision, but ultimately it came down to the fact that Hangouts does not handle messages the same way as the others today. Hangouts is Google’s messaging service that melds together chat and SMS in one interface.
While Hangouts does bring SMS to your PC, for free, this is merely an available way to access the Hangouts tool. In contrast, each of the other apps today take your incoming SMS from your phone and have to convert them to a usable form for your PC. Bottom line, Hangouts works even when your Android phone is turned off, the others require your phone to be turned on and connected. Perhaps this makes Hangouts the best app for your needs, I just figured it was unfair to have it compete head on with the others today.
These are all great and popular apps in their own way. Some are built for SMS, some are not, but do a good job anyway. Either way, you are in good hands no matter which app you choose to run with.
We hope you find the SMS to PC app that suits your needs in this week’s Android customization post. Next week, we would like to revisit using voice commands to control your device, we’ll use Tasker to control the camera on your device, and throw in an Android Wear app to give you even more flexibility. That’s right, get both arms into your selfies, or be a part of that group photo without having to run for it.
The most important part of an app shootout like this is deciding which is the best. I am only a moderate user of SMS on a daily basis, and there is only one app on this list that I already use for other things – for me, Pushbullet will be my tool of choice (in addition to Hangouts, of course.) However, because the options all take a different approach to the task, we will need you to be the voice of reason here:
So sorry guys, we’ll leave this link here, but we will no longer be updating the Pushbullet channel.