Pushbullet for Android review: The app you never knew you needed

I have two issues with this process. First, the app doesn't show you a condensed list of friends who have a Pushbullet account, which would be helpful so that I can see who's already using the service.

Second, once I add a new friend, they don't need to approve me before I can send them anything. That means anyone with my email address could push items to me and I have no way to stop them. Pushbullet says it's aware of this issue and is working to change how you share with friends. In the meantime, the company says it keeps an eye out for people abusing the system.

Keep tabs on your notifications

The most recent Pushbullet update makes the app even more useful because you can now see every notification from your phone on your desktop. That means when your phone goes off, you can see if it's an important notification or something you can ignore simply by glancing at the top-right of your computer screen.

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Notifications from your phone can show up on your desktop. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

You can control which apps trigger desktop notifications in the Pushbullet app, and dismiss the notification on your phone if you're done with it, which to me, is a great feature.

To set up desktop notifications, head to the settings menu in the Android app and tap the Notification Mirroring option to let the app access your notifications. Then you'll need to install the Pushbullet Chrome extension or Firefox add-on and sign in to your account when prompted. That's all there is to it, and you'll begin to get small pop-up messages when you get a new notification on your Android device.

Add-ons

Pushbullet is even more useful when you connect it to IFTTT. If you're not familiar, If This Then That, or IFTTT, is a service that connects almost any two apps or services that never communicated in the past, such as Facebook and Dropbox. You set triggers, or actions that spark another action, and then an outcome. A great example is if I share a new photo on Facebook, then save it to my Dropbox account.

Pushbullet was added to IFTTT in March 2014 and can turn hundreds of triggers into items that can be pushed to your devices. One way I use Pushbullet and IFTTT is to send a link to my phone when my favorite blog publishes a new article, but there are many more ways to use it, including sending a weather report to your phone, being notified when a sports team scores, or getting a link when there's a new Instagram photo from your favorite user.

How well it works

When it comes to performance, Pushbullet is reliable and fast. In my tests, transmissions from desktop to mobile device (and mobile to desktop) occurred immediately, so long as the device had an active data connection. And every pushed item also successfully made its way into my Android's notification bar. This is perhaps Pushbullet's most important capability. Having pushed items fed into my notification bar keeps them at the front of my mind.

You can, of course, clear any of Pushbullet's items from your notification bar as needed, and just as easily, you can add them to the bar again directly from the Pushbullet app. This means you can actually use your notification bar as a handy reminder tool.

Final thoughts

Pushbullet is a simple app that's far more useful than it appears. You can quickly send almost anything between your phone and computer, and it's more convenient than using email or a cloud storage service like Dropbox.

The recently added notification mirroring feature that pushes all of your phone's notifications to your desktop means you don't need to constantly check your phone every time it buzzes or beeps. It's a very convenient addition that makes the app even more useful than before.

If you ever need to send links, notes, and files between your Android device and your computer, or to another Android device, you can't beat the speed and ease of Pushbullet.

Jaymar Cabebe contributed to this review.

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    Pushbullet (Android)

    Part Number: com.pushbullet.android
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    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. AU specs are unavailable.

    • Category File sharing and cloud storage
      Office and productivity
    • Compatibility Android