Two weeks ago I realized I needed a way to send a webpage not only from my Mac browser to an iOS device, but from the iPhone or iPad to my Mac browser as well. The reason is simple: I find an interesting link on my iPhone I don’t want to bookmark or Instapaper, yet I want to simply check out later on the desktop. There’s no easy way to do it. So with the help from a friend and support from my Twitter followers, I created a folder action script for OS X that receives links shared from iOS through Dropbox and opens them in a new tab in the system’s browser. The method still works for me and it’s a really easy (yet powerful) way to save just about any link for later desktop usage, but I saw many had trouble trying to make the script work or integrate it with Dropbox. So here comes an app for that.
Push Browser is another app that can send links from the Mac to iOS but – surprise – it also works the other way around. How? With a Google Chrome extension that ties into a Push Browser account you can create for free, and dedicated iPhone and iPad clients (it’s very strange the developers didn’t make this a universal app) to receive and send links. The Mac-to-iOS side of things is just what you expect: once the iOS app is installed and the Chrome extension configured with your account to recognize your device, you can send a link from the desktop to the iPhone or iPad. A push notification on iOS will appear in seconds to view the link. This is a pretty standard feature we’ve seen in other apps like Handoff. Things really get interesting (and useful, at least for me) when Push Browser is used to send a webpage from iOS to the Mac.
There are two ways to share a link: install a bookmarklet in Mobile Safari to forward webpages to the app, or use Push Browser as your main iOS browser. Personally, I installed the bookmarklet so every time my iPhone opens a new link in Safari I can easily send it to Push Browser. Once the webpage is in there, tap the share button and then “Send link to this page”. In a few seconds, the link will automatically open in Chrome on your desktop. Of course, you have to make sure you’re logged in with your account both on the iPhone and the Mac browser. This app can also send links from iOS to iOS – which is neat.
There are a few downsides: for instance, the extension only works for Chrome. I assume the developers will soon release Firefox and Safari versions, but if you want to try Push Browser now it’s Chrome or nothing. Furthermore, links won’t open if the desktop browser isn’t running but – and this is a great feature – they will as soon as you re-open it. I tested this with multiple links sent to the cloud when Chrome was closed and, as I launched it again, they all opened in new tabs.
Is Push Browser the app I was looking for? Absolutely. It’s simple, has literally two features (let’s say three with private browsing mode) and does iOS-to-iOS, Mac-to-iOS and iOS-to-Mac webpage sharing in a way no one else has accomplished yet. I just wish the devs will rethink their strategy and make the app universal for iPhone and iPad.
If you want the easiest solution to share links across mobile devices and desktop browsers, this is the app you need. Go download.