Simplification

13th January 2014

Making complex things simple is what most online companies/services attempt to do. If it’s buying your next pair of shoes, ordering something to eat, or changing your service plan with your mobile provider, going online to do so is now more than just a habit, it’s how you do things today. Either via a browser or an app, getting things done has been massively simplified with the growth of computer and mobile usage.

One of the best examples in my experience is Dropbox. It has never been easier to have your data/files/information available in a synchronised state in multiple locations. For me specifically, that means 2 mobile phone, 2 tablets, a laptop and a PC. I take a photo with one of my devices, that photo is automatically available to all other devices. Yes, of course Apple does that too, however Dropbox is available for all mobile platforms. Think back a few years before Dropbox existed, and if you were tech-savvy, you would have had a NAS at home as a central storage space, and if you were a total geek, you would have been able to access the data from outside of your network. The normal man on the street though, wouldn’t. Dropbox then adds bells and whistles such as file/folder sharing, retrieval of (accidentally) deleted files, and other functionality.

In a nutshell, if you want to be able to access specific files from anywhere, you need Dropbox. They made something complex, extremely simple.

I recently discovered another service that also simplifies my usage of multiple devices. When I’m at work, I have my laptop and both mobile phones. When one of my phones rings, beeps, vibrates, I am always tempted to stop what I’m doing, and look. Also, getting data from my laptop to my phones was always a headache. Let’s say I’m looking for an address on my laptop, and want to use my mobile for directions. I’ve always mailed the address to myself. Not a huge pain, but definitely something that could use simplification!

Meet Pushbullet. Pushbullet (Android App) bridges that gap with a Chrome/Firefox extension and can send almost anything from your phone to your PC and vice versa, and as an extra bonus, shows your notifications from your phone on your laptop, and even allows you to dismiss the notification on your mobile device. That means that I can see what caused my phone to ring/beep/vibrate, and decide whether I want to interrupt what I’m doing or not, and I can dismiss the notification on my phone, all from the comfort of my desktop.

Install the Android app and one of the extensions (depending on your browser) and on your laptop, connect the two by visiting the website, and the set up is complete. Within the app on your phone, you can decide which notifications (from which apps) trigger this functionality. As an example, if you use GMail on your laptop and mobile, then you probably don’t need to notifications. But SMS, Whats App etc may make sense.

Sending things to and from your phone, is also simple. On your laptop, if you have Google Maps open (see my example use case above), after searching for the address you need, click the Pushbullet icon. You’ll be presented with a neat little window that allows you to send a link, note, address, list or file to youzr mobile phone, and if you have multiple phones set up, you’ll be able to choose which one. Click send, and that’s it. Your phone will get the details, and you’re good to go. And sending stuff from your phone to your PC is just as simple!

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For me, this is the simplification at it’s best. Something burdening from the past has been made easy. Pushbullet is a service you need to check out if you send things between your phone and computer(s).


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