How do you use push notification on your iPhone?

How do you use push notification on your iPhone? Apple released the push notification service as part of iPhone 3.0 and since then iPhone and iPod touch (and now iPad) users have been able to get everything from social network updates (Instant Messages (IM), Twitter tweets, Facebook statues) to game challenges to deal notices to.. just about anything you can imagine.

Some users are forgoing SMS for push notifications to save on texting costs. Others like RSS feeds, or breaking news on certain topics pushed right to them. There are even apps who only provide push notifications for other apps!

iPhone OS 4 will add local notifications to the mix, so App Store alarms, for example, could even be set to wake you up in the morning. (Would that iPhone OS 4 also fixed those push notifications pop-ups that obliterate everything that came before and provide no way -- webOS or Android style -- to manage them. Bitter much?).

So we're curious, which apps are you using push notification for right now, and how are you using it?

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+.

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Reader comments

How do you use push notification on your iPhone?


Words with friends, espn, and I'd like to say facebook if they could get it working properly.

I use push for a bunch of different tasks, Twitter, Facebook, games and news mainly. I use Boxcar for both Twitter and Facebook and it works great. I get my game challenges from a bunch of different games and I use the AP news app to get breaking news push.
The one area I'd like a little more push from is weather notifications, I get daily weather pushed to me from an app called Umbrella, but would like to get notifications for things like severe weather alerts and other things. Any suggestions?

I use Twitbit which is fantastic for Twitter push. Also use GPush to have my Gmail pushed, Facebook, eBay and a few more.
I'm still looking for a live score app that would push Premiership football goals to my phone as they happen (UK).

I'm using Letmeknow for my push notifications on RSS, Craigslist items I'm looking to purchase, twitter messages, weather alerts, etc.
The best function is it pings my servers to inform me whenever a server or port becomes unavailable.
The app leverages push notifications to work for you.

facebook, myspace, boxcar, Espn, Nice Kicks & words for friends thank you Apple, T-Mobile & Geohot

I keep push notifixations off now. I noticed a significant decrease in my 3GS battery life when I had it on. I hope that push will get much improved along with battery life in the iphone HD.

I get push notifications from Facebook, my weather app, ESPN Sportcenter and I use Boxcar to get my Twitter notifications. Echofon has never had good push support and the new Twitter app, which I like, doesn't support push at all.
@Zach - The Weather Channel Pro supports pushing weather alerts, as does AppNotifications. It's actually a really nice alternative.

News apps.
That's about it.
No noticeable battery reduction, but then none of these are terribly active, and if you have push mail on, one (or 20) more push apps use no additional power.

For me, push notification works well with Beejive and We Rule.
Facebook and Mint push notification $ucks so bad.
2010 and technology still sucks.

Check out Pocket Weather. It supports push temperature information and even better, shows an active badge on the programs' icon.
As far as other push items, I use Todo for task reminders (hopefully these will be local when 4.0 hits), ESPN for Baseball and Football action, Whatsapp for replacing SMS with my iPhone friends and Wife, Bargain Bin for price changes in the App store, CNN Alerts, and AutoPark for reminders when my parking meter is supposed to expire (see ToDo for local push).

Sportacular for sports scores is great. Beejive for Facebook, Yahoo and AIM is also great.
The Facebook app's push is really buggy, and it's not much better on Android. I can't understand how such a big company like Facebook could put out such garbage and then turn a blind eye when it doesn't work correctly. Oh and the "Facebook video is not yet supported" message makes me want to chuck my phone out the window...

I use Gooooal 2009 to receive football/soccer notifications, it isn't updated since last year but is working very well.

i can't use it, simply because battery life is already dwindling on my two year old hardware, and using push just ruins the barely four hours of use i get already...

Beejive, Scorecenter, and a handful of things I monitor and have pushed to me via Prowl.
On a related note, if developers embrace Local Notifications, then the notification interface is really going to need an overhaul beyond the single-modal-box-obliteration setup it currently has.

I mainly use IM+ which is awesome for these things
• i forward important emails to an AIM account and IM+ notifies me as soon as they come in
• push tweets from certain people.
• push notifications from reQall which pushes todo's , reminders and calendar info for free :)
• push IM as it's always on.
totally changed my life.

Just use push on facebook and email. I use GriP to display them though (jailbreak app) which gives you loads more display options over apples modal dialog.

Everyone is jumping in with their push apps. (I use most of these also) Well, let me poopoo on someone's parade and ask why doesn't Apple's own iPhone have native push support for it's flagship server product, 10.6 Snow Leopard Server??????
I can get push mail using Exchange (wash my mouth out with soap), and a few other third party email clients, but I can't get push mail from my own Mac servers? Huh? Push calendaring on the iphone to Mac Servers? No go there either. Contacts? Nada. As a small business owner, I need native push support from the iPhone - Mac server - vice versa. I don't have the money to buy Exchange and I am not using mobile me or gmail for business. Come on..get serious.
Ok, getting off my soapbox now.

I drive quite a bit and use it for Trapster to alert me to speed traps and radar. Now of AT&T could just provide more coverage it would work really well for this purpose. I aslo use it for AP news alerts.

boxcar, todo, and craigslist i like being able to centralize most of my notifications to boxcar and they are doing constant updates. i jailbroke for better notifications.

I luv push notifications, otherwise I'd have to remember to check several apps throughout the day instead of knowing exactly when I get a message

I use Push Notifications for BeejiveIM, Pushmail, Facebook, and Echofon.
Current implementation is better than nothing but I REALLY hope Apple expands Push Notifications soon.
I would like to see 2 thing ASAP:

  1. Notification Management (and no more single mode disruptive notification popups)

The way I want this to work is to have a place where all notifications are collected and I can view them at any time, mark some or all as read etc.
And then to replace disruptive popups, how about a double height status bar of a color not yet used with text displaying the number of new notifications.

  1. I think the push notifications should wake the app in question to update with the new information

See, the push notification system shows me something is new, but the app receiving the push notification does not update with that new inforation so I have to wait for the app to pull that new info in when I open it.
How about to go along with the way Apple is approaching multitasking, let the push notification wake the app up in the background, update, then of the user hasn't activated it go back to sleep. That way it's ready to go when I open it.

@liam ifooty plus is best for push football (soccer) results and goals. I assume it is available worldwide.

I use push for email, facebook,boxcar and really just about any app that supports it. I really do not like the notification system overall, but for the most part and for most apps the push system really does seem to work well.

I definitely use push notifications for several different apps. Love Sportacular notifications, words with friends, and any game that requires me to make my turn. Also love the BeeJive notifications.
Also, I use Prowl AND Boxcar. Prowl for any notifications regarding my home server. I run a server which people use to grab content. I get a notification if someone sends me a message on this server, or whenever someone downloads or uploads something. I use Boxcar for twitter: I set up a separate twitter account (because I don't want to get a notification for every person I follow) and follow just a few people, like Breaking News, Michael Lee (i'm a big Wizards fan), and Ken Pomeroy. Then I get a notification anytime they tweet.
Since I get so many push notifications, it's important to manage them. I don't want to miss any of them either. That's why I use LockInfo. Simply awesome. It puts all of my notifications on my lock screen so that I don't miss any, and it's quick to read them and just a painless way to manage all the notifications I get from different apps.

You should use weatherbug, it pushes severe weather warnings. At least it does on my Blackberry. I hope it does on iPhone, because it's the next phone I am getting.

I use push notifications for espn, meebo, and facebook but it to work for some time then it just stop or delay the msgs.!!!

I only have Push Notifications on for BeejiveIM, I keep Badge Updates on for Facebook and Twitter (did use Echofon/Boxcar, now waiting for Tweetie/TFiP to add Push)

I just wish my push notification works cause half of the time I have to manually check my email and other apps for messages

@Zach - LetMeKnow is the app you want for weather notifications, as well as some other interesting things.

I use PocketWeather AU, which pushes the day's top temperature, Facebook (even though I rely on push email alerts for it more), iStudies Pro for assignments. Thats about it!

I honestly don't use push notifications at all. They're annoying and they don't help much at all. I get an Message/IM/Alert and it only rings once. I don't get to see it. Well same problem as before. I honestly use third part solutions (via jailbreak) to notify me.
I wish that apple would fix this.

I get push mail on my Iphone with the stock mail client.
Our company server runs Cyrus Imap with IdleD. (Linux).
Works quite well, although there are times it seems to fall asleep when roaming off of wifi onto 3g, but this seems to clean itself up in 15 minutes.

Stock iPhone, push notifications are almost useless. It only displays the last notification. Jailbroken iPhone, notifications can stack up and I don't have to worry about missing any of them. Also use notifications with Sportactular and eBay apps too.

I recently began having a lot of text messages sent to me (averaging 120/day) I'm on the 1000 txt message plan, so I knew it wasn't gonna last long needless to say. So I began giving out my google voice number. I use the app Prowl to send me push notifications for my text messages, it them automatically opens the VoiceCentral Black Swan web app so that I can reply back.

I use notifo and for Twitter push, and notifo and femtoo for websites I follow. I'd use facebook push if it worked but it doesn't and its a power hog. If you haven't used notifo, try it. Its a great app with excellent developer support. Did I mention its also free.

I use push notifications mostly for gmail because google sync sucks. I use a program called "push Gmail" and it notifies almost instantly when I get a new mail. Chat client eBuddy also supports notifications, I also use that alot. Other than that, facebook notifications are nice too, at least when they work.

Facebook, Gmail (thru the native mail app), and ESPN Scorecenter primarily. Although gmail doesn't always work, and FB hardly ever works so I turned it off recently.
Besides, what's the point if we don't have a proper notofication management tool?? C'mon Apple, OS 4 better have this. AND it better not be 3GS/4G only - don't forget about the millions who jumped on the 3G bandwagon and made the iPhone the success that it is today.

Weather app displays current temp as a badge and weather warnings in modal dialogs. Also receive push notifications from IM+ and Facebook.

The only app I use push for is IM+. Unfortunately it hasn't been too reliable. I'm not sure if it is a problem on apples end, aims end, or with the Im+ service itself but there are times that it take a half hour or more to get alerted of new messages. On two seperate occasions i got my messages pushed to me hours later. I contacted Im+ about this problem twice but never got any more help other than being told to reinstall the app.

Don't use them at all. For IM and Social Network Stuff I use my private Blackberry. IPhone is (wierdly) the cell phone I got from our company.

Push on stock iPhone is borderline pointless with the "one notification ONLY" method apple uses.
LockInfo for Jaillbroken iPhones solves that problem. It puts notificatons in a list that you can dismiss line by line.
Forget every other use for JB, and Lockinfo would STILL be the reason I will always be jailbroken.

I use GRiP Jailbreak app; it solve all of those problems. I can see notification history, and view mail in the notification. It is a free jailbreak app.

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Are these push notifications free? or am I being charged for being 'always online' or something? I do not have an unlimited data plan... So my bill at the end of the month always seems to be insanely high. SOoo yeah, are these notifications free or am i better off with them turned off?

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