Every once in a while I come across an iPhone app that is just plain essential. This was the case when I first installed MyPhoneDesktop. This app brings functionality to the iPhone that Apple should have included in the operating system.
Many iPhone users sit in front of a computer working for hours each day. While they sit at their Mac working, their iPhone is dutifully at hand waiting to be used. Need to text a friend? Grab the iPhone and fire off a message and then its back to the Mac and the work at hand. But with MyPhoneDesktop, the process becomes infinitely easier. The app on the phone works with an application on the computer. If I want to send a text via my cell phone, I can open up the computer-based application, select the message recipient from a list, quickly enter the message to send (via a standard easy to use conventional keyboard), and then tap send. The desktop app hands the message off to the iPhone. The iPhone enters the text into your text app and selects the recipient instantly. All the user must do is tap send on the phone. The application running my computer makes it much more efficient to compose the message, then hands it off to the phone for sending.
MyPhoneDesktop also makes life easier in a number of ways. Making calls gets easy. MyPhoneDesktop lets you enter a phone number to dial, then hands the call off to the iPhone. The iPhone dials the number and off you go! It really makes it easy to copy a number from a web site or office document and have the phone dial without having to grab the phone and manually dial the number.
The app also makes it easy to send a link to the browser on your phone. You have the ability to have the URL sent to the clipboard on the phone, or have the URL displayed on the screen as an alert, or simply have the link open in the iPhones web browser. What more could you ask for? But wait, there’s more… it’s possible to send free form text, or even images to the phone with the same easy controls.
Put simply, MyPhoneDesktop is a conduit to move information easily between you Mac and you iPhone. And, as you might suspect, what can be done with the iPhone can also be done with the iPad. Of course it’s not possible to make a phone call from the iPad, but if the iPad has Skype installed, MyPhoneDesktop can initiate an outbound Skype call on the iPad. It really is ingenious, and it’s a set of functionality that Apple would have done well to include with every shipping iPhone or iPad.
As my mention of Skype hints at, MyPhoneDesktop also lets you leverage other internet technologies such Skype to make calls. But it is also possible to utilize Google Voice to make calls or send text messages. In fact, sending SMS messages with Google Voice is my preferred method since there is no need to confirm the outgoing message on the phone. Just enter the message in the application and click send. The message leaves instantly.
MyPhoneDesktop has some rough edges that could use a little work. For example, when I first installed the desktop portion of the app, there is an option to import my address book. But, it turns out, if you don’t import the address book when you see this option, good luck doing it after the fact. I wasn’t able to find a way to import my address book after I passed this option by. An option to import or update the address book should be available, or if its there, it should be easy to find. But even more useful, it would be common sense to have the application hook into the Mac OS Address Book in real time. That eliminates the need to import and maintain separate contact lists.
Additionally, it can be a little confusing trying to get the desktop application to send text messages via Google Voice by default. Sending via Google Voice is quick and easy. Whereas sending through the phones built in SMS service still requires the user to pick up the phone and click send on the outgoing message. No doubt this was the only way the app developer could implement the feature. But it’s possible to set Google Voice as the default for outgoing text messages. It’s just very tricky to get the default to kick in and stick. It took some trial and error on my part to finally get it working as I expected. And I still can’t get the desktop app to dial an outgoing call via Google Voice without getting a Code 20 error.
All of that said, the app brings tremendous ease of use and functionality to the iPhone and iPad. Its one of the few apps out there selling for $4.99 that I was willing to throw down my money without question. The app could use some minor improvement, but it’s worth every penny. Check out the app in the App Store for some additional screen shots and to read the reviews.
Update: 1/26/11 9:30am
Eden makes a great point. There are plenty of YouTube videos online that show how to use this app. Some of these are a little out of date. Apparently the price has changed over time, but some of the features have been refined in that time as well.
Here’s a great video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6yNEMJmYSg
And this page lists a slew of other videos on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=MyPhoneDesktop&aq=f