Hi Lifehacker, Recently at work, they banned mobile phones from coming on to site. I work on a PC a lot of the time so I was wondering if there are any apps out there that could come in useful to access my phone via a browser or to get notifications sent. Thanks, Lost Without My Phone
Banned phone picture from Shutterstock
This depends on a range of factors, including your phone's operating system, the level of IT security at your workplace and the mobile content you're trying to access.
Most popular phone apps (Gmail, Facebook, etc.) already have desktop versions available which should be accessible from your browser. If these are blocked on your work computer, it's safe to assume that any remote access tools will be blocked as well. You can read some tips on circumventing workplace security blocks here, here and here.
While there are plenty of relevant apps available for Android and Windows Phone, Apple is considerably more restrictive with its devices. That said, there are a few software tools available that allow you to remotely access select iOS content from your computer, including SMS.
One iPhone option worth checking out is mysms Messenger. This is a free messaging service that allow you to send and receive phone texts using your computer. Messages are automatically synced across all your devices and you can also save them to Evernote for safekeeping. To use the mysms service, simply install the app on your iPhone, head to app.mysms.com on your desktop browser and start sending messages.
Another iPhone solution which is aimed specifically at Mac users is Phone Amego. This integrates your iPhone into your Mac via a Bluetooth connection and can display received SMS messages using the Mac Notification Center or via its own HUD.
You might also want to consider jailbreaking your iPhone and installing a VNC server. Check out our guide to find out how it's done.
If you own an Android device, AirDroid is a pretty good bet: this is a free app that allows you to control your phone from any modern web browser. You can transfer and edit files, send, receive and view text messages, install/uninstall apps, view photos and videos, manage contacts, sort through your music collection and plenty more, all from your desktop screen.
Other Android solutions worth checking out include DeskSMS (a simple phone-to-desktop SMS app), SnapPea Web (a versatile remote access tool that lets you manage your phone from any computer with a web browser) and MightyText (a Chrome extension that can send SMS messages through Chrome using your phone number.)
If you can't get any of these apps to work on your desktop, another option would be to invest in a smartwatch or screen-equipped fitness band. While you won't gain access to everything on your phone, they do push through important notifications as they appear on your phone and you can also reply to text messages. Here's a list of the best models on the market.
Just be aware that most smartwatches require a Bluetooth connection and will therefore require you to smuggle your phone into the office. As long as it's switched to silent and kept in your bag, this shouldn't be a problem.
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