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Chrome to Phone
device
jducoeur
Okay, I'm really liking this new toy. Time for yet more tech-geeking.

My phone was recently upgraded to "Froyo" (Android 2.2). This has gotten a lot of hype, but the feature that I consider neatest is one that was mostly skimmed over in the press: the ability to send messages from the "cloud" to the phone. The details don't matter a lot, but suffice it to say, there's now a mechanism that allows your phone to accept messages from online services, and do appropriate things when that happens.

The exemplar for this -- theoretically just a demo app, but really wonderfully handy -- is Chrome to Phone. This just does what the name implies: it takes whatever you're currently looking at in the Chrome browser, and at the push of a button, sends it to the phone. It only does the right thing in three cases so far, but they're three very useful cases:
  • If you have highlighted a phone number, it opens that number in your phone, ready to call.

  • If you are looking at a location or directions in Google Maps, it opens that up in the Maps app in your phone.

  • Otherwise, it opens your phone's web browser to the webpage you're currently reading.
In practice, I've already used each of them. They're small things, but it's feels delightful not to have to re-enter stuff that you're looking at. (A good illustration of the DWIM principle in software.) The map one is especially great: you can figure out the details of where you are going in the big Google Maps window on your desktop, then squirt it over to the phone, ready to navigate. (Granted, Google Maps could already do this for some GPSes anyway -- but this is supremely easy to use.)

Anyway, a fine toy, and a good illustration of the power of this feature. I expect folks are going to find this send-to-phone capability increasingly useful as a way to really integrate mobile into their applications...