When you’re cranking away on the computer, stopping to answer a text message can be an annoying interruption. Yes, it’s very much the definition of a first-world problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something worth solving.
The fix is to join in with a service that syncs your text messages with your PC. This way you can get the message, type a response, and get back to what you were doing. There is no native Android solution, but here are four rather solid options for doing so.
None are perfect, but they might shave some time off your day by letting you take care of that message without fumbling for your phone. Here are four of the most reliable options for keeping you connected to your Android phone’s text messages from the desktop.
MightyText was born with this very problem in mind. It does an admirable job at doing exactly what you need in this respect—syncing up your texts into a web client that you can then use to message.
You need to install the Android app and give the requisite permissions to access your messages and phone calls (MightyText can also dial out). The interface is pretty easy to use, with some theme customizations available. You can use the web app or grab a Chrome extension for continued access.
There are definitely some quirks. When you first sync up your messages, those that you’ve archived with Android Messages will also appear in your list (you can delete them from MightyText). You can send GIFs, but the recipient will get them as a link instead of embedded with the message.
And as with much of life, not everything is free. A $5 per month (or $60 per year) pro plan gets you beyond the 250 message limit per month, and offers other advanced features like notification mirroring and the ability to save and schedule drafts.
One of the original apps to mirror your phone to the desktop, AirDroid remains a solid option for keeping your texts in sync across your desktop and phone.
When you grab the Android app and create an account, you’ll be able to sync up not just those messages but other notifications that come from your phone. There’s a desktop app for Windows, Mac, and Chrome that puts your messages and links to other content from your phone at the ready.
A word of caution on the Windows version: during installation there’s an offer to install a rather spammy search extension into Chrome. It’s an unnecessary piece of software that will force you to re-enable Google as the default search in Chrome. Just avoid it.
Beyond that, AirDroid does the job well. It’s loaded with other tricks beyond just messaging, like taking a screenshot and displaying all your notifications.
If you want to use AirDroid on an unlimited number of devices, get unlimited file transfer, and a batch of other features then you’ll need the $20 per year premium plan.
Pulse is a lean, fast, full-featured SMS app with a great Material Design aesthetic. It doesn’t go overboard on the features, but it’s fast and smooth and has support for inserting GIFs, photos, and location. It’s got some nice customization options for tweaking color, font, day/night modes, and which options you want on the notification shade.
That’s all in the free Android app. Using the app just as a SMS client is free forever (and it’s pretty good at what it does).
If you want to message from your tablet and computer, you can pay for a “message from anywhere” upgrade. After a free one week trial, that will cost you either $0.99 per month, $1.99 for 3 months, or $5.99 per year. If you just want to pay once and be done with it forever, you can do that for $10.99.
The money goes toward fully encrypting your messages, and keeping the apps ad-free. No SMS/MMS app can secure your messages as they’re sent to your contacts (only over-the-top internet messaging platforms can do that), but Pulse does do end-to-end encryption of your messages between your devices and its server. So they can’t see your information, and can’t sell it. But they do need it (at least in encrypted form) to keep your devices in sync.
Once you shell out for the upgrade, you can use a Chrome app, chrome web extension, Firefox extension, or the Pulse website to text and send SMS and MMS messages right from your Windows PC, Mac, or Chromebook. Or grab the app on a tablet that only has Wi-Fi to text from that. It even supports AndroidTV and Android Wear 2.0!
Pulse is made by the same people who make EvolveSMS, a highly customizable texting app for power users. EvolveSMS gives you a ton of options, but its cloud sync was always done through some third-party service. Pulse is a little different. It’s simple, quick, fully integrated, and it just works.
It’s easy to consider Google Voice an afterthought. The service, which Google acquired ten years ago, seemed to languish in obscurity before a sudden burst of life earlier this year.
It now does the stated purpose very well—mirroring texts, calls, and voicemails across your devices.
The rub is that you either have to use a new phone number that Google assigns you, or import your own number into Voice. But doing that will result in a fee from your carrier, which will then require a new phone number while Google Voice operates as your shadow phone number.
This means Voice probably isn’t the ideal solution for those who don’t want the hassle of surrendering their number over to Google or changing over to a new one. Beyond that, Google has done a good job at modernizing the way Voice works.
The SMS and MMS integration looks solid and is reliable. The app will be an important part of Google’s strategy to push RCS across to other carriers, and it should support this when you’re communicating with someone’s phone that does.
This list tells you one thing for sure, and it’s that getting this functionality is still a bit messy. There’s no universal, first-party solution that works as flawlessly as Apple’s iMessage works across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. If you want that same type of consistency, then an over-the-top service might be the way to go.