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Push Notifications – Testing with Agile Messenger, Quick Impressions …

Agile Messenger push notifications

The guys at AgileMobile were kind enough to offer me a pre-release build of their next update for Agile Messenger, their excellent IM app for the iPhone, so that I could help test out push notifications a bit.

I ‘ve been playing with it for about a day and a half now, and I ‘ve got some quick first impression thoughts on it

Getting push notifications going was a breeze once I installed the new version of Agile Messenger.  I got an alert (show in the screencap top of this post) asking whether I wanted to allow the app to send me push notifications.  The alert is identical to the one you see when an app wants to use your current location, with a ‘Don ‘t Allow ‘ and an ‘OK ‘ button “ and of course I chose OK.

A new Notifications item appeared for me under Settings

iPhone OS 3.0 Notifications settings

The settings for it are minimal and are application-specific.  For each app, you can turn notifications On and Off, and also toggle on and off each of the three types of alerts push will generate: sounds, badges, and alert messages.

Agile Messenger push notification settings

For testing, I ‘ve left all three types of alerts on.  Alert messages come through instantly, and popup on your lock screen if the phone was not active when they hit, or on whatever screen you ‘re working with if you are actively using it.  Sound and badges also work well, and badges also seem to update with the right number of new IM messages virtually instantly. 

Badge

For (non-jailbroken) iPhone instant messaging app users, this is what we ‘ve been waiting for ever since the App Store opened.  All iPhone IM apps have effectively been playing with one hand tied behind their back while waiting on this feature.  Hurrah that it ‘s here and it ‘s working very nicely.

Having said that, I ‘m not sure what I think of Apple ‘s implementation of push just yet.  Testing with just one app was a great proof of concept for me, but it doesn ‘t give me a feel for how things will be when I have a number of apps using push and if / when I ever get a whole bunch of alerts from multiple sources in a short space of time.  That ‘s something I ‘d still like to test “ though the more I think about it, the more I think that there are really not a large number of apps that I want push notifications from, so it may never be a big issue.

The notification alert messages popup and disappear quite quickly if more are coming in, so that might be an issue if you turn them on for quite a few apps.  Although the badges update just about instantly, I wonder how useful that is when not all your push apps are on one screen.  Then when you unlock your phone you ‘d need to ensure you flick through multiple screens to check which badges show new items.  I think, as an early impression, I ‘d like to see a top status bar icon, or something similar, to indicate new push items.

Even a status bar indicator might not help a great deal though, as you ‘d also want to know which apps had new notifications, and ideally have a quick way to go straight to them.  Yikes “ I can see this becoming another factor to take into account when arranging apps on home screens “ grouping all those with push turned on onto one screen “ probably the first or second home screen.

What do you guys and gals think?  Have any of you been testing these out yet?  Even if you haven ‘t how would you like to see these implemented?

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  • swebber

    When will what you described above be available? I downloaded Agile Messenger v 1.1.2 from iTunes store last night, but no push notifications options are yet available on the version that was installed yet for my brand new 3GS, except through IM forwarded to email. Is there an upcoming release date? Nothing is noted specifically their website as to a release date, but they are making mention of the push feature here and there.

    • I'm not sure – very soon I believe. I've sent an email to a contact there, will update with a new comment here when I find out something.

  • swebber

    Thanks very much, great blog! I'll check back for any other info and keep it up, I will send readers this way!

    • Thanks for the kind words!

    • I did a new post today with an update from the guys at Agile – the short story is it's due very soon, by Friday at the latest they expect. New post is at:
      http://tinyurl.com/nov38l

  • Cmalyak

    Great review can't wait to try out the new version.

    • Thanks – and it should be out very soon.