Sometimes an app is more than an app -- it's about being excited about the underlying technology and why it makes it easier for users to get done what they want to get done, without extra steps that stand in the way.
myPhoneDesktop [US$1.99] is that kind of app. It transforms the way you move data from a Mac to an iPhone, simplifying the process along the way. I tested it on an iPhone 3GS and a Mac.
Imagine you are sitting at your Mac, looking at:
- a URL
- Directions on Google Maps
- a YouTube video of a cat vs. a lobster (well, crawfish)
- a phone number of someone you need to call
- an app in the App Store on iTunes that you want to download
- a picture you want on your iPhone
Not only that, but when I get the message on my iPhone, then I have to manually do something with it. I also have the Pastebot app [$3] installed, but I have to make sure that's running on my iPhone before it will receive any data from my Mac. And again, it's not going to do anything with that information, it's just going to copy it.
Here's how I do that with myPhoneDesktop:
- Select URL, text, phone number, picture
- Press and hold ⌘, press C twice.
Boom. Off it goes over the Internet and appears on my iPhone moments later.
But myPhoneDesktop can do a whole lot more than just simply sharing text. Read on for more...
A few moments after I send information to my iPhone, I get a push notification, and when I acknowledge it, myPhoneDesktop opens the appropriate app for the information:
- the URL will open in Mobile Safari
- the directions will open in Maps
- the video will open in the YouTube app
- your iPhone will start a call to the number you designate
- the picture can be saved to your iPhone photo library
- text is copied to the clipboard
While the Mac app may not win any design awards, it's functional and easy to use. There are plugins for LaunchBar and Apple's address book. There's even a bookmarklet to send selected text or images from any webpage directly to your iPhone.
In his Post-I/O Thoughts, John Gruber called the "cloud-to-device" messaging API the "most interesting" upcoming Android feature. The API allows for purchases to be made in the Android Marketplace and have the purchased item pushed to your Android phone. I would love to see Apple do the same for the App Store and sending purchases to iPhones and iPads. With myPhoneDesktop you can send the URL to your iPhone and have the App Store open, but you still have to download it manually.
The second part of the messaging API that John mentioned, however, was taking the URL from your computer browser and sending it to your phone over the air, which is exactly what myPhoneDesktop does. Web pages open in Safari, Google Maps URLs open in Maps. iTunes URLs open in the App Store. Phone numbers open the phone app. SMS messages open in the SMS app (the number is automatically filled in, and the message is on the pasteboard. I presume this is due to limitations in the iPhone's public APIs.) Notes and images can also be sent.
Right now the information only flows one way: "computer to iPhone." I spoke with the developers who said that they plan to add "iPhone to computer" sending later, but did not give an estimate on when that would be. Still, as it stands today, this is well worth the $1.99 price for the iPhone app. The desktop apps are free.