iPhone Push Notifications Are Live–Finally!

By  |  Monday, June 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm

iPhone AIMMuch of what’s neat about iPhone OS 3. 0 is what it does to let third-party developers build more powerful applications. And the most long-awaited feature in that department by far is push notifications, which Apple announced a year ago as an alternative to multitasking for third-party apps. The first programs to support notifications are starting to hit the App Store today. They’re both IM clients–here’s TechCrunch’s MG Siegler on the new version of AIM (which is available in an ad-supported free version and a $2.99 adless one) and the Boy Genius Report’s eponymous founder on the multi-network BeeJive (which is $9.99).

I took the new AIM for a spin, and found that notifications pretty much work as Apple described them last June. When you install and run AIM, it asks if you want to enable notifications:

AIM Push Notifications

If you click OK, you then get your IMs (or truncated versions) even when you’re not running AIM, as long as you’re logged in (they make a noise unless your phone’s in vibrate mode, and show up even if your phone’s off):

AIM for iPhone

And can turn notifications on and off and specify how much detail you want:

AIM for iPhone

Two quibbles:

1)  I wish AIM took me directly to the IM thread in question when I clicked the View button in a notification, but it takes me to my buddy list–maybe the iPhone will only launch an application from a notification, not take it to a particular state. (On the plus side, AIM does launch and connect really quickly, at least on my iPhone 3GS.)

2) I’m delighted to have push notifications in AIM, but I suspect there are times when I’m going to be in another app and won’t want to be bothered. As far as I can tell, the only ways to avoid notifications once you’ve enabled them are to shut them off in AIM or set AIM to log you off whenever you close the app. You can’t do it from the notifications themselves. (If the notifications had a “snooze button” I’d use it.)

One disclaimer:

I don’t know yet what sort of impact notifications have on battery life. Apple says they’re miserly, though, and they’re essentially doing what Apple apps such as the Messages and Calendar ones already do, so I’m optimistic.

I’m still hopeful that Apple will enable third-party multitasking at some point–I want to decide for myself if I can live with the power hit and potential stability issues– but this is a very useful stopgap…


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. jimmy46 Says:

    My first experience with push was mobileme and it was always hungry for batteries. I hope this push notification system is relatively easy on batteries.

  2. choirguy Says:

    I don’t work for them, but I’ve been very happy with the service…have you tried Push on TextFree Unlimited? My wife and I have been using this service between our iPhones…and I’ve been using it with people on other carriers, and it works great. In fact, the delivery time is sometimes faster than AT&T’s has been. The only negative is that the app sometimes takes 10 seconds or so to load (I can be patient), and the app is about $6. I understand it will become an annual fee…but still, compared to $30 for family texting, this application of push works very, very well, and I’m still looking forward to a Twitter client with push services. Who will be first up to bat for that application?

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