I just picked up a nice little app for my iPhone called PushDialer ($2.99). PushDialer allows you to dial phone numbers on your iPhone from your Mac (and at some point, Windows) computer from many sources – Address Book, Safari, Firefox, Mail, TextEdit, and Outlook 2011 for starters (I didn't test every program I have!)
You only need to run the app on your phone to pair up with a computer (or you can delete a pairing if you like). Otherwise, it doesn't need to be running ( I tested this by sending the app away on my iPhone and then sending it a phone number from Safari). How does it work?
First, you need to buy the app and install it on your phone. Then you need to download a helper app for your computer. This installs a Preference Pane and a service on your system.The Preference Pane shows up in the "Other" section with the other third-pary panes:
Opening the Pane for the first time brings up a pairing screen:
Then you open the app on your phone – since it has no pairings, it will as you to put the 5-digit number it shows into the Pane. If it all works, you'll see a screen like this:
As you can see, from here you can send a test message or unpair a computer.
When you want to dial a number, you can select it on a web page or in a document and then right-click (unlike Safari on the iPhone, these items don't automatically become links). In the menu there will be an item "Dial Number on iPhone" (or, if you're in Firefox, the word "Number" is replaced by the actual number). Click that, and within a few seconds, you'll get a popup on your phone (with a unique "digial-phone" sort of sound) asking if you want to dial the number (with the number displayed). If your phone is locked, unlocking the phone in the first few seconds with call the number. In Address Book, you left-click on the number, but everywhere else I tested, it was a right-click.
If you run into a program where right-clicking doesn't bring up the menu choice, you can go to the Services menu to send it off. TextWrangler didn't show me a choice to dial, but I could from Services:
The helper program on the computer is intelligent – I highlighted some text without a phone number and didn't get the menu item to dial, even with numbers in the text. If you select too much text, though, even if it includes a phone number, you'll get the menu item, but you'll never get a message on your phone.
This is all done via Push Services, which is why you don't need to have the program running on the iPhone. It also means that if the push server at the company gets overloaded, you might not get your notice (or it might take a while). In my testing I never had to wait more than a couple of seconds. Since it's a push notification, both the computer and the iPhone need an Internet connection.
Sure, you could call up the same screen in Safari on the iPhone and dial from there, but this makes things a bit simpler. It's not a "must have" utility but it's certainly "nice to have."