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Boxcar on Track for Removal from my iPhone

Boxcar – the social networking tool that pushes notifications from social networking sources like email, Twitter, or Facebook long before notifications were available in iOS 5 – has been part of my repertoire for Gmail notifications when my beloved Push Gmail became unstable.

In my case, the service sends a push notification of a new email to my iPhone after receiving emails forwarded to a unique Boxcar email address. After the notification has been pushed, the emails are then discarded on Boxcar’s end, while the original email remains on the initiating email server (in my case by the setting, “keep Gmail’s copy in the Inbox”).

This free service relies on Boxcar servers being operational, however, and when they are unavailable, the backlog and resulting annoyances pile up quickly. And that’s what happened to me yesterday.

For example, not only did I stop receiving any email notifications, but each email unsuccessfully forwarded to Boxcar resulted in a “MAIL DELIVERY SUBSYSTEM”  -Delay or Failure – error email back into my Inbox:

Delivery to the following recipient has been delayed:


Message will be retried for 2 more day(s)

Technical details of temporary failure:
The recipient server did not accept our requests to connect. Learn more at http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?answer=7720
[(10) push.boxcar.io. []:25: Connection refused]

After a day offline, Boxcar’s service is back online and now I’m getting what seems like non-stop notifications of several days’ worth of notifications that didn’t make it the first time. When I realized what was happening at the end of my workday yesterday, I turned Forwarding off in Gmail settings, but as the email above indicated, I may have to suffer for up to two more days if I keep Boxcar on my iPhone.

This isn’t the first time this has happened – and its erratic behavior is pushing (pun-intended) my buttons. The last time I submitted “feedback” to the developers through the app but never received any response.

What about you? If you don’t use Gmail as an Exchange server (like through Google Apps), how do you receive notifications of new emails at Gmail?

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  • Kathy B

    I agree. I work IT for a health care and rely on timely notifications. Last night a notification that was sent directly to Boxcar wasn’t delivered until several hours later at which point it was too late. I am looking forward to purported new features in iMessage in the new iOS to be released this fall. I’d do SMS to my phone, but I don’t want to be tethered to this one thing all the time, yet I usually have some sort of Apple device handy, and Boxcar was ideal to send notifications to everything. Sad they can’t keep their servers running reliably.

  • Andrew

    I use thee new app called pushover. With its integration with IFTTT is awesome too. Boxcar was a good service but it is unreliable.

    • Jay

      Thanks, but it’s hard for me to justify the $4 price tag.

  • Ok, this is why the App Store is failing:

    1) Someone makes an app with a cute logo, pays for tons of good PR, gets some feature help from the Geniuses at Apple, and bam, fame and fortune.

    2) Oh my, who’d have thought, the App stinks?!? Gee, how could that be?

    3) A guy suggests in public that what amounts to historic, pure ineptitude on the part of the App Developer, who by now is driving a fancy car and getting laid more than wall-to-wall shag in the ’70’s, maybe, almost, maybe, might cause him to remove the App from his iPhone; truly more historic than, for example, a failed moon landing.

    4) Some nice persons kindly suggest a lessor known App, one not generally spoken of in the Bar at the W before a hook-up, but that, wait for it, ACTUALLY WORKS!

    5) Guy responds that, well, frankly, a quality functioning piece of labor intensive software ISN’T WORTH 4 DOLLARS!

    (Sorry, I had more to say, but I’m at Starbucks and my $5.00 Double Latte is ready.)

    • Jay

      I was unware of the impending failure of the App Store – unless you’re referring to disagreeing with its design (which is a separate argument of capitalism).

      Boxcar is a free app and rarely stinks – but when it does become unstable, it is a disaster. Given that low cost, it’d be interesting to know whether the dev is having the posh lifestyle you suggest.

      I do have a forum to review, complain, and celebrate those apps that deserve it – as do you and any other nice guy. . And unless someone (maybe you since you could sacrifice one latte?) is willing to gift a competing app for comparison (see our About page), it’s up to me, my pocketbook, and my choice in focus as to whether to seek an alternative (sounds like capitalism once more).

      And be careful, It sounds as if there was plenty of caffeine already in your system.

      • Ok,

        First, the App Store was created, and generally I believe it’s true, to provide a forum for
        Developers to sell their product and have an opportunity at success without having to sign
        over all their work to a ‘company’. Clearly, over time, Apple has gone out of its
        way to protect the App Store as exactly that. When the realities of the App Store are that over
        95% of Developers can’t earn a living on the App Store, there is a problem; which by the way
        we all saw reflected in Apple’s last quarterly results. There are many reasons App Store sales are
        down, and sinking further, and they are similar to why most Developers can’t earn a living.
        This is what I meant by the App Store “failing”, I’m not suggesting Apple is going under, I’m
        suggesting the App Store is not living up to the Developer side of its’ mission.

        Free Apps are only Free because the money is coming from somewhere else. The big cash for
        Developers here is not Ads or in-Apps, it’s getting 10 million Users, securing VC or Angel
        cash to start a ‘company’ from which you pay yourself a salary until the cash runs out, then
        blame ‘the board’ for interfering with the development process and move on.

        My disgust is sincere, not caused by too much caffeine. You stated that $4.00 is too much to
        pay for a piece of software that preforms a function that you obviously feel is important.

        Now, I’m going WAY out of my way to avoid getting into remarks about your “capitalism”
        comments; why go there? I really don’t want to get into politics. But come on, this function
        must be important to you, or why write the article? If you’re not willing to give such a tiny
        sum of money to purchase a product that you need, how can you expect people to
        build that product and manage to eat every day?

        If your answer is, hey, Apps should be free, and earn money using the ‘free model’ outlined
        above, well, then my question is, why is the App suffering from such an obvious and tragic flaw?
        Please don’t say the Developers are lazy; why circle back to the political/incentive issue?

        There’s obviously no money in their fixing the problem. They either never got the VC cash, or it
        ran out, or they were a cheap paid App, failed, and are giving it away now trying to hold on
        to a dream that will never come. They might fix it eventually, but it’s just not urgent.

        The App Store will succeed when Apple pulls 90% of the trash Apps and supports charging a
        fair price for quality software. Let the pirates on that ‘other mobile os’ sell their trash over there.

        Here’s a good article along these lines: http://www.macrumors.com/2012/08/31/ios-developer-david-barnard-trying-to-make-the-boxed-software-model-work-at-99¢-is-a-fool’s-errand/

  • Jay

    Thanks for the opinion and link (which is the developer behind Launch Pro Center – an app I did purchase). My intention behind writing an opinion piece such as this is to critique – both positively and negatively – in a public forum for readers. If I were an average user experiencing a problem with an app as I described here, then by discovering this post online, I have been verified in my experience – and may learn more from others who comment (and be willing to spend $4).

  • Critter

    Boxcar truly pisses me off. After about half a day of no push notifications, I think.. hmmm wonder if Boxcar is down… Login to their website.. Absolutely NO indication that anything is wrong other then the fact that my last push was … hours ago..

    Fine. I”ll check twitter.

    Nope.. their twitter account seems to go dark as soon as they start having problems again. They are like bad waiters. When the kitchen is backed up they hide from their tables rather then explain whats going on..

    They are in desperate need of a “server status’ page. If you visit their twitter feed now, you will see that they have been purchased by… somebody.. I don’t know.. and to be honest. I don’t care.

    too little… too late.

    Press. Hold. Delete.

  • stefan

    same here. and so much more.

    had issues with boxcar months ago and deleted everything: first the push-service, then the app itself. three months later people sending me emails receive a

    cannot be delivered-reply

    from boxcar.

    to hell!

  • Wally

    Does anyone know what actually happened with Boxcar? Notifications stopped yesterday and their website has been dysfunctional for about 15 hours.

  • I used to be a big fan of Boxcar last year. And then the app stopped working for one of the RSS feeds I had set up to receive push notifications for. I did the troubleshooting suggested on Boxcar’s site and when that didn’t work, I requested help in their support forum. I got no response at all from Boxcar, even after multiple requests and even a couple of pings through Twitter. I eventually gave up and moved to Fabien Penso’s Push 4.0, which has been working like a champ. There’s been some downtime here and there but Fabien has always been forthcoming via Twitter to notify users and it’s a solid alternative to Boxcar.

    For those who don’t know, Boxcar was actually acquired by another company earlier this summer. They plan to keep Boxcar running but who knows if this will change: http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/26/kwaga-acquires-boxcar-to-use-push-notifications-in-attention-management/