The internet is all abuzz over Google finally making a desktop solution for Android Messages, but there are some relevant alternatives that already existed in the world of Android (and don’t get me started on Google Hangouts…) Anyways, we thought we’d do a rundown of some of the options that aren’t provided by Google. Many of them even have added functionality that users might find more appealing.
Pushbullet is easily the most recognizable name on the list. They’ve been around for quite some time and offer texting/SMS as one of its core functions. However, it’s not the only trick Pushbullet has to offer. The app also allows for data messaging via Pushbullet contacts similar to Allo and Facebook Messenger.
Pushbullet can also mirror all your Android notifications outside of texting. And I mean EVERYTHING. The app has a nice toggle menu to allow the user control of which apps you receive pings from, but by default, it will hit you with all your apps. Another unique thing to Pushbullet is that they don’t ignore that there are competing messaging apps. Honestly, they embrace it with allowing you inline replies to Whatsapp, FB Messenger, Slack and Kik. That’s right, you can respond via other messenger apps directly from your PC using Pushbullet.
Platform support is also key to Pushbullet’s popularity. They have official support for Android and iOS on mobile, with a Windows companion app on the desktop. If you don’t have Windows you’ll be happy to find they have browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. On top of the official support, Pushbullet has a pretty decent 3rd party following that allows for an Electron solution that we’ve covered before and a plugin for Pidgin that can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Pushbullet is free but with limited functionality. For full access you will need to upgrade to Pro at $39 per year. This brings other options like remote file management to the service.Get Pushbullet via Play Store
After Pushbullet, AirDroid is a name that most users have most likely heard of before. It offers many of the same functions of Pushbullet. Notification mirroring and SMS are both onboard. However, AirDroid offers some unique additions worth noting.
The first one is remote control of your camera app. This allows you to take photos and store them locally from your desktop. You can also dial and answer your phone directly from the desktop. The remote function is basically the biggest draw of AirDroid over Pushbullet. It allows full display mode where you can view the entire Android interface on your desktop. This also allows you to type on your phone via your computer keyboard.
You can even expand this to take full control of your Android device — think TeamViewer for your phone. I’ve used this a couple of times to remotely access my family member’s phones to show or fix something for them when they’ve had issues. It’s a nice feature of AirDroid and with full control of a device, you can take the app further than most others on this list.
AirDroid is free, but with limited functions and a data cap. For premium access, it will cost you $20 per year.Get AirDroid via Play Store
I’m a big fan of Klinker Apps. I’ve followed their software offerings for years, dating all the way back to Ice Cream Sandwich using EvolveSMS and Talon for Twitter. Their latest app follows the EvolveSMS lineage and is called Pulse.
Pulse is a really well-designed SMS client with a nice material design. It has all the basic functions you’d expect for traditional SMS. But, the big feature that makes it stand out amongst other SMS apps is the desktop sync capabilities — much like Google’s Android Messages. You create an account and then all your messages are available on both mobile and desktop.
Pulse has a web and desktop Electron app that makes it usable on any device you can imagine. It can be installed on Windows, Mac, and even Linux. The app supports SMS and MMS via the web app and brings native style notifications to each desktop platform. Electron is essentially a web wrapper that runs a siloed instance of Chrome, so it’s more resource intensive than a truly native solution. However, it covers all the basics that most users will look for while using their traditional OS at home.
Much like Pushbullet and AirDroid, Pulse is free with premium upgrade. Only the first 7 days are free, but Klinker offers several upgrade paths. You can do $0.99 per month, $1.99 per quarter, or $5.99 per year. They also extend a lifetime membership for just $10.99 as a one-time payment.Get Pulse via Play Store
Outside of our list, there are a plethora of apps available that offer some of the features found here. MightyText and mySMS are just two that pop to mind, but the three we’ve provided are some of the most mature and well-designed options. We hope this post offers you some alternatives to Android Messages that are being developed outside Google’s walls. Are you using Android Messages for web, or any of the apps on our list? And, is there a great app that we’ve missed here? Let us know in the comments.