Apple tests push notifications, but are they ready?

Apple must beware of how many apps it approves to accept push notifications.

Apple is ready to test push notifications, one of the most anticipated features of the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0. In an e-mail sent to iPhone developers, Apple asked for assistance in stress-testing its push notification servers using a new Associated Press application. The app will be available to iPhone OS 3.0 beta 5 developers for the next week, and then expire.

In order to preserve the iPhone's already weak battery life, Apple decided to route all update notifications through its own servers instead of third parties communicating directly with the iPhone. This way all apps that receive an update (such as streaming news apps, IM apps, etc.) will filter information through Apple, and Apple will push that information onto your phone. For instance, if a hot story comes through the AP app, the AP sends information to Apple, and your iPhone alerts you, just like a text message, that one of your apps has received new information.

This service would be particularly useful if an iChat app comes along: you'll no longer need to explicitly run the app in order to receive IM updates; they will arrive in due time.

But Apple must beware of how many apps it approves to accept push notifications. Imagine if eight out of ten apps allowed for this -- Apple's servers would fry and millions of iPhone users would be left without updates. It'll be interesting to see how well this AP app test goes after a week so we can determine whether Apple is ready for the torque of a million hungry update addicts.

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Brennon Slattery

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