Apple looking to improve iOS notifications... by buying an iPhone app?

Apple looking to improve iOS notifications... by buying an app?

According to a Cult of Mac source, Apple might be buying an App Store app developer in order to improve iOS notifications. This... sounds a little strange. Notifications are certainly one of the weakest remaining elements in iOS, handled better by Android and far more elegantly by webOS. It took Apple until iOS 3 to get copy and paste and iOS 4 to get 3rd party multitasking so my assumption has been notifications were on the list for update but probably not until iOS 5. (Especially after Apple hired back the engineer who developed webOS' notification system.)

What is there in an iOS 5 notification system Apple can't build internally? Still, Cult of Mac says:

Our source, who asked to remain anonymous, didn’t know the identity of the company, except it already has an iPhone app in the App Store.

One candidate is Boxcar, a free app from Appremix that enables push notifications for Twitter, Facebook, and email. Boxcar’s system has been highly praised, especially the new iPad version.

Boxcar is fabulous -- I use it all the time -- but it's a third party solution, not something designed and integrated into the OS deeply, the way a new notification system would need to be. I just don't see it...

...unless this is another one of Apple's famous talent acquisitions -- more better people to work on what will become iOS 5's new notification system. That I can see.

What do you think?

[Cult of Mac]

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Sony at war, could pull music from iTunes

Next up →

Verizon iPhone -- Can they hear you now?

Reader comments

Apple looking to improve iOS notifications... by buying an iPhone app?


Hopefully this is true and they will make better notifications integrated into future IOS updates

The Iphone is supposed to be one of the most advanced smart phones in the world, but still lacks a sophisticated notification system?
How bizarre.
I love apple products but I cant see myself leaving my blackberry. I don't see the point of buying an iphone and having to jailbreak it to do something that should have been included from the beginning.
This is what I would like to see the iphone software have:
password keeper
auto text (macros)
notification system
If Blackberry can do it, why can't the iphone?

David, I feel your pain. I had to overcome that myself to put down the Bold. It was so sweet. That little blinking light. So simple, yet so helpful. I had to train myself to use this phone. Too many times I would get "But, I sent you an email", "You didn't call me back", or "Did you get my text?". I just had to learn to check the phone each time I walked away from it. Another thing that needs to go by-by is all the swiping. If i press the HOME BUTTOM, I should get my HOME SCREEN. A double click option to do that would be nice. There is NOTHING more annoying than to pick up the phone to return to something only to have to swipe (and thus streaking the clean screen) to open the phone. A simple home button click should take you back. It is REALLY a pain when you are using the iPod. You have to click and swipe to pick another song.

You can always use the "double click Home Button" to access iPod functions...
Oh and Apple should buy LockInfo instead :P

Didn't really look at it that way till you mentioned it (having to swipe to unlock). It should at least be an option in accessibilty.

I have an iPhone cause it pretty much does everything else better...can't believe people still have Blackberries.

And this is exactly why I still have a Blackberry. As soon as I get my three (3) small wishes granted, I'll get the iphone. I'm optimistic everything will come together later this year.

People still have Blackberry devices, because they still do one thing that iPhones don't, other than notifications. With a standard candybar qwerty Blackberry, you can get astounding battery life out of it, the push notifications that are universal with all email accounts on the Blackberry Platform are unique and for anyone that needs emails when they get sent and want to be notified as soon as they arrive, the Blackberry platform is still superior there. No, they're not fun, no there generally isn't a nifty app for every little part of your life, but more often than not, when someone uses a Blackberry, its for business and exchanging info/emails on a back and forth, instant basis.
A perfect example of how their push notification system is superior, the OMG awesome Official Facebook app on Blackberry, its stellar from my standpoint, I'm an Android user, and an iOS user, and I miss the Blackberry Facebook a lot. I imagine with the introduction of OS6 and the Torch, its developed even further than it was when i had my last Blackberry.

It is most likely a talent acquisition, in that Apple feels the dev in question and his/her track record suggest they can contribute, not that any tech acquired could simply dropped into place.
(P.S. HTML error in the link just before "especially" - looks like somebody pasted the entire anchor, instead of just the href, when authoring.)

I always thought it would be like an app. When Apple first talked about push notifications they had an icon with a smiley face with a number badge on it. That would be fine, you open the "app" and there's a list of all the push notifications that have come in, that's really all I need/want. Then if I tap one it takes me to the cooresponding app. Nothing fancy, I just want to be able to see everything in a list and not have them go away forever.

Also if not clear, the system would remain exactly the same as it functions now just this extra notification list app.

I think some developers in the Jailbreak community are already doing some fantastic things regarding notifications. I would love to see Apple buy LockInfo, Notifier, and BiteSMS, among others.

I know we have been waiting forever for some features that a lot of phones get 1st but apple has a way of doing things right when they do come out with their version of a feature. So there is not doubt in my mind that when they deside to release a new notification system we are gonna have one of if not the best notification systems to ever be put on a mobile device

Even tho what you say about them getting things right may be mostly true, it still will continue to get more aggravating that they continue to show up late to the party with things phones have been doing more than well at for years now. Its like one of your best buddys/co-workers whose awesome to be around at work but continues to show up late for the parties. After a while it gets old and you eventually stop inviting him/her. Yes, I do have this example in my life and thats why I used it lol. That first sentence was one helluva run-on, ya think? Lol

Such a sacrifice I had to make switching from my bb. I miss my blinky light and messages stream. Really made things efficient. But I had to sacrifice it for pretty much everything else. But I miss notifications all the time now. And for some reason I just don't like boxcar. I don't feel like its true push. It's quite late.
And MD Stop hating!!!! If you don't like it gtfu.

Exactly :( I want an iPhone so badly, and plan on it being my update in April, but I will definitely miss my Tour's notification system :( But, when the ONLY thing your phone can do is have a more efficient notifications system, and the other phones have EVERYTHING ELSE better, well, there's not much to decide in the matter...

I just hope they don't try to build on top of it. It has to be a completely different direction because right now it's laughable.

"Apple might be buying an App Store app developer in order to improve iOS notifications. This… sounds a little strange."
Yes, it does.

Even if they just put stuff like weather, new email, SMS and push notification messages on the lock screen I'd be happy. Can we get some widgets.

A flashing notification light at the top of the screen would be awesome. I don't see why that can't be done, really don't need a separate indicator light. Even if the light moved across the top to prevent screen damage/ burn in.

Wow guys... The quality of EVERYTHING on the iPhone is a million times better compared to my bbstorm but the mail and txt management is severely lacking compared to any blackberry.
I mean let alone I can't customize my specific email acct ringtones (that's driving me INSANE) but Im not gonna sit and checkbox every single email one by one just to delete... Which the button turns into "archive.... Wtf mate... But I would ABSOLUTELY PAY FOR A BETTER MAIL MANAGER

I just unlocked my phone, opened an email, deleted it, closed the mail app and relocked my in about 3 seconds. Ya this phone is terrible...

No way apple hired someone to work on notifications for IOS 5. Either apple has already re-done the notification system in iOS 5, or they are going to be re-working it for iOS 6. They wouldn't JUST start thinking about iOS 5 features only a few months before it's preview...they have been working on iOS 5 since last year.

I agree, and this is where I get the sinking feeling; if it doesn't come in iOS 5 then I am going to be pretty disgusted. I feel apple's software iterations are progressing at a snails pace compared to other platforms and that the iOS iterations should to be displaying amazing new features rather than just catching up with other platforms. I know that throwing more people at a problem isn't always the solution, but seriously it can't hurt can it ? I want system wide widgets like dashboard so I can see where I am in a map widget whilst watching a movie, or a list of new emails widget whist surfing the web, to pull in information quickly without having to jump from app to app with small windows above what I am doing.

Why? The guy who was involved in the notification system for WebOS was hired in June last year.
Plenty of time for him to be working on iOS5.