Every day, you’re bombarded with notifications: an email on your laptop, a Facebook “like” on your tablet, a stream of texts on your smartphone. Jumping from device to device gets exhausting.
PPL Connect, a new SMS messaging service, wants to eliminate one of those hassles. The service brings your text messages and phone calls (previously available only on your phone) to a single website. This means you can text or make a call, from your phone number, with any computer, tablet, or connected device that can access the Internet. You can use the service, which is available only for Android smartphone owners for now, on any cellular network or web browser. Anyone will be able to receive your texts—not just other people who have signed up for PPL Connect.
When you send a text via the PPL Connect site, your message appears as if it came from your phone number, with a short tag at the end that reads “via pplco.mobi.” The fact that it’s linked to your phone number and that it’s based on a website means you can text from your laptop, Kindle Fire, iPad—anything with an Internet connection and a web browser.
It also means you may no longer have to waste your phone battery on a plane, or risk getting in trouble for texting during work hours.
PPL Connect also does phone calls. You can call any phone from the website using your personal number, even if your phone is dead or turned off. In other words, breaking or losing your phone just got a little less dramatic.
PPL Connect has jumped into a free messaging market inhabited by the likes of MightyText, GroupMe, WhatsApp, and many more. But so far all those services seem to excel at is streamlining texts. This service’s most unique trait is, by far, the ability to call people from a computer using your personal phone number.
Unfortunately, that particular feature is still quite limited. Though you can place calls from your computer via PPL Connect, you can’t receive them. Not to mention, each call costs 3 cents a minute and works only in the United States and Canada.
Here’s how you do it:
You’ll first need to sign up either via your email account or Google+.
Then you should give them your phone number. Remember, only Android owners can sign up right now. The company’s iOS app isn’t due out for another year.
PPL Connect will then send your phone a security code to confirm your identity. You’ll also receive an email for the same purpose.
After confirming that you are who you say you are, PPL Connect will think for a few seconds and then link your phone with its service.
From there, you can turn off your phone (if you want), and jump over to the website. Once you log in, you’ll be able to access and manage your contacts and conversations. As you can see, the main menu bar sits over on the very left of the screen, while the latest text messages that I’ve received on my phone are in the dark-purple column. My current conversation is in the third row. On the very right, I can see all my latest communications.
Though you’re alerted when you receive a message via PPL Connect, you’ll also continue receiving them on your linked phone. This can get a little annoying if you’re treating the web application like a regular chat. You’ll also have to adjust for the delay from the text messaging delivery before responding.
The app is still in its beta stages, so some of the features need some work. For instance, calling another cell phone in my office was almost impossible. It could be that we get bad service here, but that’s something to take into consideration if you’re hoping to use this app for phone calls in difficult-to-reach places.
Overall, the interface is polished and easy to follow. And—if its features are fine-tuned a bit—it could be the most comprehensive phone-linked service out there. In the meantime, however, I’m sticking to GroupMe.