iPhone Push Notification waiting in the wings

Apple recently sent out an e-mail to developers testing the latest iPhone OS 3.0 software. Apple wants to put the Push Notification system through one last stress test before releasing OS 3.0 to consumers on June 17. The app picked for this second test was the AOL AIM $2.99 instant messaging application. (Previously, Apple tested the Associated Press application, AP Mobile Free.) We assume that Apple chose news and instant messaging apps because these applications will be using Push Notification the most.

Push Notification is a system Apple developed to work around the fact that Apple does not allow third-party apps to run in the background on the iPhone. (We first wrote about Push Notification last year when it was announced at WWDC. You can see a video about Push Notification here.)

Multitasking–or running apps in the background–caused security problems, according to Apple, and negatively impacts battery life. Although there are rumors that Apple may in the future be a little bit more flexible with background tasks–perhaps in answer to the Palm Pre, which does pull off multitasking–currently only Apple’s native apps (such as Mobile Mail) can run in the background.

You can see Push Notification and AIM in action below in a YouTube video. We are told that with Push, receipt of the messages is practically instantaneous.

Push Notification was missing-in-action since last year and we had expected to see it last fall, but it was a no show. It appeared then that with all the new things Apple was bringing to market, the company may have bitten off more than it could chew. (Witness MobileMe’s disastrous first days.) <!–for Apple initially. Many MobileMe subscribers only started to like it after it became more improved earlier this year and after they received some extra time on their subscriptions.–> Now, fast forward to WWDC 2009 and all of this has changed. MobileMe has matured, and Push Notification appears to be working well according to our testing sources.


This blog post was written late last week and on Monday Engadget reported that Push Notification is live in the free app Tap Tap Revenge (iTunes link). Tapulous, creators of this popular iPhone game, had already rolled out an iPhone OS 3.0 ready version of the game. A version that when used on the new OS activates a surprise – support for Push Notification.


Tell us what you think about Push Notification versus true multitasking in the comments.

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