The AirDroid app is probably the easiest way to manage your Android phone from your Mac or Windows PC. It lets you quickly transfer files between your phone and your computer, or from one Android phone to another, without requiring any USB cables.
The newest version of AirDroid – version 3.0 – is even better.
Earlier, if you had to transfer a file from the computer to your Android phone via AirDroid, you had to open a special web page in your web browser, authenticate the connection and only then were you allowed to download or upload files.
Now AirDroid has released dedicated clients (software program) for both Windows and Mac that mostly bypasses the need for a web browser. Once you have installed the AirDroid software on your computer, you can simply drag one or more files to the desktop app and the files are instantly transferred to your Android device. It just works.
The transfer happens extremely fast if your computer and your phone are connected to the same WiFi network. However, if one of your devices is not on LAN, you can still send your files via the cloud. The files stay in the cloud for a week before they are permanently deleted.
You can view your phone call logs and also reply to SMS messages from the computer. It is however not possible to initiate phone calls from the desktop. And certain old features, like the ability to capture remote screenshots and photographs using your phone’s camera, still require the web browser.
AirDroid 3 is not available (see update) in the Google Play store yet but you can head over to beta.airdroid.com to download the Android app and the desktop clients that available for both Mac and Windows. You’ll need to sideload the apk files and that essentially means letting your Android phone to install apps outside the apps store.
Update: AirDroid 3 is now live.
AirDroid or PushBullet – Which is Better?
PushBullet is another popular alternative to AirDroid and offers similar features. With PushBullet, you can push notes and links from Chrome to your Android device with a right click, you can send files between various devices and it can mirror your Android notifications on the desktop.
However, the advantage with AirDroid is that it transfers files over WiFi (if available) while Push Bullet uploads the files to its own servers which is always slower than LAN transfer.
Both allow you to push text notes but while AirDroid is a Android only solution, PushBullet is available for both Android and iPhone. Also, Push Bullet offers a Chrome extension allowing you to send links and text from desktop to phone with a right-click. This is not available on AirDroid.
For now, I’ll prefer to have both apps on my phone.