Connect your PC to your smartphone and tabletA part of the common vernacular these days is to refer to smartphones and tablets as the “second screen.” This is most often used in the context of talking about watching TV and how many people are on their mobile devices at the same time as watching their favorite programming. In the context of productivity, though, the smartphone doesn’t have to be a second screen. It can join its powers with the PC in powerful and unique ways, unleashing loads of potential to get more work done more quickly on either screen.

This can be especially compelling when connect your PC to an Android smartphone. The natural inclination is to think in terms of Windows, but the “computer” side of these types of solutions can be actually browser-based by way of add-ons and extensions. Can your smartphone and laptop (or desktop) operate as one?

AirStream

Stream content from your PC to your Android

Stream content from your PC to your Android

Even if your smartphone has a microSD expansion slot, you are inherently limited in your storage capacity. With AirStream, you can leverage the terabytes of storage you already have on your PC. You don’t even need to transfer those files over from your computer to your mobile device, because music, movies, photos and files can be streamed over to your smartphone or tablet. This also works with content you have saved in Dropbox and Google Drive. For this Android app to work, all you have to do is install and configure the desktop client on your PC, Mac or Linux machine.

AirDroid

Gain full access to your phone on your computer

Gain full access to your phone on your computer

A popular favorite among many productivity enthusiasts is AirDroid. Now in its third official iteration (as AirDroid 3, appropriately enough), this solution unlocks a very powerful way to connect your PC with your phone with full two-way communication. Get an app notification on your phone? That will show up on your computer. Got a phone call or SMS? That gets pushed too. Want to respond to WhatsApp via your computer? How about transfer files from your Windows or Mac to your Android? The functionality here is remarkably robust, making AirDroid one of the best solutions out there.

hciLab Desktop Notifications

Receive mobile notifications on your desktop

Receive mobile notifications on your desktop

You’re working away on those urgent TPS reports on your dual-monitor desktop PC when you hear that characteristic “ding” or not-so-subtle vibration from your phone sitting on your desk. Taking your eyes away from your computer screen, diverting your attention over to your phone, waking your device, entering your lock code, pulling down on the notification shade… these all waste precious moments of productivity time. The Desktop Notifications Android app address all of that by pushing mobile notifications to your desktop. You can’t respond to your texts through this, but you’ll know right away if you can ignore the notification since it’s just your turn in Words with Friends.

MightyText PC Texting

Connect your PC and text with a real keyboard

Connect your PC and text with a real keyboard

As proficient as you may have become with typing around on that 5-inch touchscreen, as convenient as swipe-enabled keyboards may have become over the years, you’re likely still a lot faster with a full-sized desktop keyboard. The MightyText solution pushes your SMS text messages from your phone to your computer screen, making it easy for you to send and receive those texts without ever leaving your PC. You can even view multiple SMS conversations on a single screen, which is perfect for when you’re trying to coordinate something a little more complex.

Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop

A full remote desktop on your phone or tablet

A full remote desktop on your phone or tablet

When you’re on the road or working from home, you might make use of a VPN or remote desktop solution to access the work computer that’s still sitting at your actual office. What if you could take that idea a little further and with a much more mobile spin? Splashtop 2 provides exactly that, completely mirroring your desktop PC on the smaller screen of your smartphone or tablet. This includes full support for all your programs, as well as comprehensive browser support for Flash and Java. If you upgrade to the Anywhere Access Pack, you can even do this remotely over the Internet from just about anywhere in the world!

Image credit: miniyo73 / Flickr

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