Pushbullet CEO Ryan Oldenburg has one underlying goal: to allow you to send and receive messages on whatever device you happen to be sitting in front of — any screen, any time.
On Tuesday, Oldenburg took a step toward achieving that goal by releasing a new version of Pushbullet, his “universal messenger” designed to unify the experience of messaging on your computer, phone, and tablet.
There are some applications that come close to this now, with iMessage being perhaps the most prominent. You can send texts or iMessages on all your Apple devices inside the same app. But one feature iMessage doesn’t have is the ability to message anyone on any platform, and that’s where Pushbullet comes in.
“We don’t have an opinion about what you’re doing,” Oldenburg told Business Insider. “We are just trying to connect you.” This means that Pushbullet not only has its own messaging platform with deep SMS integration, like iMessage, but also supports chat programs like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, and Viber. And it helps make those experiences better.
Here’s how it works. Pushbullet taps into the API built for Android Wear — universal notification syncing is currently not available on iOS, though the Pushbullet messaging app itself is supported. Pushbullet then uses that functionality to pop a notification up on your computer as if your PC were a smartwatch.
Let’s say you get a message on WhatsApp while you are on your computer. A little chat box pops up, you respond to the message, hit enter, and it disappears. Easy.
That’s what’s potentially revolutionary about Pushbullet. In a world where competing titans like Apple and Facebook want you to like their messenger program the best, Pushbullet just wants to give you an easier experience, whichever app you use. “If you use WhatsApp, we make WhatsApp better,” Oldenburg explains.
Of course, Pushbullet also has its own messenger program, which was developed with special emphasis on being able to handle links in the smoothest manner possible. This app does work on iOS (for both phone and tablet).
Right now, Pushbullet has over two million registered users, but Oldenburg isn’t trying to sell the world on network size. Even if all your friends aren’t on the network, Pushbullet can still connect you using other chat programs.
And how does Pushbullet handle “mark as read” for supported apps like WhatsApp? Oldenburg says that is up to the app maker, but that it’s usually reasonable given the fact that they are using the API designed for Android wearables. Why would a notification not go away on your phone if you dismissed it on your watch?
At its core, Oldenburg says Pushbullet is about sharing data between devices in the easiest way possible. Those devices could be your own — phone to computer — or they could be your friends’. And that data could be a message or a link or a file. Pushbullet doesn’t care as long as when you pick up a screen, you have access to your data.
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