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Apple tackles 3rd-party iPhone app limits with push service

post #1 of 57
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Addressing one of the most outstanding complaints regarding feature limitations in third-party iPhone applications, Apple on Monday said it has developed a push notification service that will feed programs with data even when technically shut down.

A persistent background connection will automatically relay information from a developer's servers to Apple, and in turn to the iPhone or iPod touch application itself, allowing any program to continue receiving data while inactive.

Developers can push badges to icons, notification sounds, or pop-up text alerts. This lets an instant messaging program notify a user of a new message or other events without having to force the program open. Third-party mail clients should also function properly. The system scales easily with larger apps, according to Scott Forstall, Senior VP of iPhone Software.

The development chief justifies the changes by arguing that true background processes -- a feature heavily requested by developers -- are often flawed in other smartphone operating systems. Most implementations often incorrectly lead users to believe that they've quit programs when they remain open, reducing the battery life and hurting processor performance with each open application.

Other mobile OS makers are aware of the issue but have come up with awkward solutions to allow multitasking. For Windows Mobile, Microsoft has developed a Task Manager app just to help shut down background processes: users have to play a "game" that tests their computer science skills by identifying programs, Forstall says.

Apple's overview of its push notivation service.

The Task Manager application in Windows Mobile 6.

BlackBerry and Symbian Series 60 devices are less prone to user error, as they more clearly allow the user to quit, but can still suffer performance issues with multiple open applications.

While it helps developers cope with a previously unsurmountable barrier to developing some programs, it doesn't fully address other concerns. Apple's iPhone development guidelines forbid executable code contained within the app itself or from calling non-Apple applications installed on the device. The restriction still prevents emulators, third-party browsers with plug-in support, and other similar features used by other operating systems.

Apple may also frustrate developers expecting push notifications to be available immediately. While developers will be seeded next month with an iPhone SDK that lets them begin coding for the feature, the service itself won't be available until September, or two months after iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 firmware upgrade are ready for public consumption.
post #2 of 57
Push me... and then just touch me... until I get my satisfaction.
post #3 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

Push me... and then just touch me... until I get my satisfaction.

Classic. Just classic

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MacBook Pro 15" | Intel Core2 Duo 2.66GHz | 320GB HDD | OS X v10.9
Black/Space Grey iPad Air with Wi-Fi & LTE | 128GB | On 4GEE
White iPhone 5 | 64GB | On 3UK

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post #4 of 57
So how do you get notifications if you are out of a coverage area and/or on an airplane?
post #5 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickhuizinga View Post

So how do you get notifications if you are out of a coverage area and/or on an airplane?

Not sure how background processes could help you in either of those situations.
-Toyin
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-Toyin
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post #6 of 57
Every time I see that guy I can't help but remember Ace Ventura.



bb
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bb
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post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyin View Post

Not sure how background processes could help you in either of those situations.

Background processes run locally on the iPhone, and do not require connectivity to determine when a notification is to be displayed. Recall that there can be more app types than IM. For example, the calendar app provides reminders. Don't you think a third party task list app could benefit from reminder notifications?
post #8 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickhuizinga View Post

So how do you get notifications if you are out of a coverage area and/or on an airplane?

One would think you would be notified when you return to service. It ain't magic.
post #9 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

Push me... and then just touch me... until I get my satisfaction.

Here
post #10 of 57
No mention of Flash at all?

Boo hoo.
post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickhuizinga View Post

So how do you get notifications if you are out of a coverage area and/or on an airplane?

...day question:-)

So where do I drive my car when I'm at sea? Stupid car!

/Mikael
post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mydo View Post

Here

Wouldn't it had been easier to search for it on YouTube? At least it doesn't have as much ad-crap and doesn't need an external add-on to view it. Here's a better link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fJZ6DwmBXU&fmt=18
post #13 of 57
I knew they would have a solution for IM, but I didn't think it would be this. This offers many possibilities as one could send IMs to SMS capable cell phones directly. I've never tried it but there is such a feature built into iChat.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

No mention of Flash at all?
Boo hoo.

It looks like Adobe has no love for Apple. Flash for Mac OS X is poorly optimized, so I can't imagine a version for the iPhone would have been built yet or more functional.

Though if Firefox or Opera decide to build a browser for the iPhone (and I hope they do) they could potentially include Flash in the app, they just can't have the app call on Flash as a external plugin.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #14 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mydo View Post

Here

Quote:
Originally Posted by heffeque View Post

Wouldn't it had been easier to search for it on YouTube? At least it doesn't have as much ad-crap and doesn't need an external add-on to view it. Here's a better link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fJZ6DwmBXU&fmt=18

Looked for the NSFW version but it appears to be only available on torrent sites and newsgroups.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #15 of 57
Gee, what was that Silicon Valley Push Technology company back in 1996-1998?

Everyone used it on their boxes.
post #16 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Gee, what was that Silicon Valley Push Technology company back in 1996-1998?

Everyone used it on their boxes.

It might have been PointCast, and it seemed like several major companies tried to push it or technologies like it on computer users, but I don't know anyone that actually used it at all.
post #17 of 57
Quote:
For Windows Mobile, Microsoft has developed a Task Manager app just to help shut down background processes: users have to play a "game" that tests their computer science skills by identifying programs, Forstall says.

Um, Aldin was making a joke....
post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickhuizinga View Post

Background processes run locally on the iPhone, and do not require connectivity to determine when a notification is to be displayed. Recall that there can be more app types than IM. For example, the calendar app provides reminders. Don't you think a third party task list app could benefit from reminder notifications?

they didn't say anything that would make me believe that a local app can't send its own notification.
post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickhuizinga View Post

Background processes run locally on the iPhone, and do not require connectivity to determine when a notification is to be displayed. Recall that there can be more app types than IM. For example, the calendar app provides reminders. Don't you think a third party task list app could benefit from reminder notifications?

Reminders are done by your calendar on iphone. no need for external connection. If you're on a plane, whether you have a background process or push connection, you're not going to get a notice saying your being outbid on ebay... so I'm not sure what the problem is...
post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickhuizinga View Post

Background processes run locally on the iPhone, and do not require connectivity to determine when a notification is to be displayed. Recall that there can be more app types than IM. For example, the calendar app provides reminders. Don't you think a third party task list app could benefit from reminder notifications?

Good point, however, you are assuming that there is no way for this to happen. Already by allowing badges, etc. Apple is allowing the apps to have some sort of communication with the local OS even when closed.

It would not be hard at all for OS 2.0 to have a local "push server" that allows the application to send a "reminder message" at a desired time.
post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

Good point, however, you are assuming that there is no way for this to happen. Already by allowing badges, etc. Apple is allowing the apps to have some sort of communication with the local OS even when closed.

It would not be hard at all for OS 2.0 to have a local "push server" that allows the application to send a "reminder message" at a desired time.

Except that the application would need to be running for the notification to be sent. I guess you will need to send an external notification to a server which sends it back when its time.
post #22 of 57
But to lay a badge over an icon is a system issue, not an app issue. No app background processes would occur. It would simply rely on the same background process that exists on the iPhone - the SMS alert system and email tags, to simply add it like it does already.

They just seem to be tweaking this to make it keep a constant IP lock and data channel open, not much at all, if they optimize it correctly as part of the system.

Maybe this is why they won't release it till September.
post #23 of 57
Hmmm. That solves the IM problem but sadly not VoIP.
post #24 of 57
Hmm..... was this push service based on some "intermediate" server at Apple doing the work? That is, the service provide (IM server or whatever) contacts a server at Apple that in turn contacts the phone??

If so, doesn't that sound a bit like the current RIM push mail solution? The one that Apple didn't really like...... (and why they say they are using ActiveSync)??

Or have I just misunderstood everything?
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by json View Post

Hmm..... was this push service based on some "intermediate" server at Apple doing the work? That is, the service provide (IM server or whatever) contacts a server at Apple that in turn contacts the phone??

If so, doesn't that sound a bit like the current RIM push mail solution? The one that Apple didn't really like...... (and why they say they are using ActiveSync)??

Or have I just misunderstood everything?

That's exactly what it is.
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

Hmmm. That solves the IM problem but sadly not VoIP.

Th SDK rules forbid VoIP outside of WiFi, but I see no reason why they can't use the new services set up by Apple to push incoming calls to you while connected via WiFi. Or if the IP address hack still works, and you'll be hanging around, say, an office building all day, you could.
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post #27 of 57
Ok this is all well and good.....but.
But what about when your in your IM application chatting away and a phone call comes in? Doesn't the IM message window you were typing in gets closed anyway?
post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olternaut View Post

Ok this is all well and good.....but.
But what about when your in your IM application chatting away and a phone call comes in? Doesn't the IM message window you were typing in gets closed anyway?

Assuming it not made incredibly poorly, it will be like typing an SMS and call comes in. SMS closes, but when you go back to it takes you to same screen you were on and everything you typed is still there waiting for you to complete it.
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post #29 of 57
Nice ad at the bottom of this iPhone thread:

New BlackBerry® Device
Every BlackBerry Smartphone Has A Full QWERTY Keyboard. Available Now

If I wanted a Blackberry, I wouldn't be in an AppleInsider forum now, would I?
post #30 of 57
This is such a backhanded way of claiming to have fixed the problem, what about apps like intelliscreen, internet radio (can it run continuosly in the background?), p2p software, and notification apps having to require internet access and having to pay for notificaions from a local app is not something I am willing to do
post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by webfrasse View Post

...day question:-)

So where do I drive my car when I'm at sea? Stupid car!

/Mikael

Rhetorical question
post #32 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hansii View Post

This is such a backhanded way of claiming to have fixed the problem, what about apps like intelliscreen, internet radio (can it run continuosly in the background?), p2p software, and notification apps having to require internet access and having to pay for notificaions from a local app is not something I am willing to do

I'm not following what your concern is or why you'd be paying for these notifications. What is backhanded about it? What other solution that doesn't drain the battery by having multiple-apps in an always on state do you suggest?

P2P may be considered illegal by Apple's SDK rules. If you want that go for the unlocked version, but that is a pretty thing to want on a cellphone will a very limited CPU, RAM, Flash and battery time. These solution will permit you to get your IMs, Emails, and whatever other options 3rd-parties can come up with without you having to keep checking your apps constantly.

As for internet radio, access one of teh many websites to get it. Most people are smart enough to put music on the device beforehand instead of streaming low quality, battery killing audio to their phone.
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post #33 of 57
I think everyone is missing the point. This isn't just about IM and calendar apps. It means that a whole host of applications that extend the functionality of the iPhone are not possible. For instance, that voice dialing app that's currently available under Installer for jailbroken phones wouldn't work anymore because it runs as a background process. One of my favorite apps, Intelliscreen, wouldn't work because it also runs as a background process. The same goes to the SMS notifier app that vibrates the phone every 15 seconds when a message arrives in case I miss it the first time. What Apple has done here is take us back to the days before Multifinder for no apparent reason. I've been running background processes on my jailbroken iPhone for most of the time I've owned it with no ill effects.
post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitespecter View Post

What Apple has done here is take us back to the days before Multifinder for no apparent reason.

You rally can't see the reason? of having a constant and static internet connection on a cellphone?

If you want to use a jailbroken device, then go ahead, but Apple makes for the majority and the majority would not understand why their phone dies in 4 hours when they haven't even been using it. Which would happen if they installed an app to try out but then forgot about it or didn't realize it was always running.

The next argument to be made is that you should be able to do whatever you want on your phone regardless of how it functions. But that pretty much screws anyone who it not technically literate and ruins the iPhone as a stable and easy to use platform. That is the main draw of the device. And then there is a parallel argument that the App Store unfairly limits developers. But that is completely bogus because without it cellphone apps would remain in the dark ages with hard to find, overly expensive choices that aren't well made or simple to install. Version 2.0 will surely be jailbroken and you can do what you like to your iPhone, but to insist that background processes and unchecked, unrefined apps should be the norm for the average user is insane.
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post #35 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm not following what your concern is or why you'd be paying for these notifications. What is backhanded about it? What other solution that doesn't drain the battery by having multiple-apps in an always on state do you suggest?

P2P may be considered illegal by Apple's SDK rules. If you want that go for the unlocked version, but that is a pretty thing to want on a cellphone will a very limited CPU, RAM, Flash and battery time. These solution will permit you to get your IMs, Emails, and whatever other options 3rd-parties can come up with without you having to keep checking your apps constantly.

As for internet radio, access one of teh many websites to get it. Most people are smart enough to put music on the device beforehand instead of streaming low quality, battery killing audio to their phone.

A lot of countries don't have phone companies with unlimited data plans so we pay pr MB, every byte counts. P2P might be a bit extreme, but nfinitespecter's examples are more real world. I want a process explorer that notifies me if an app is using excessive recources, then I can decide what I want to use my battery power for. I am staying with 1.1.3 untill 2.0 is jailbroken, an iPhone without Intelliscreen is half as much of a phone.

If you put the content on the phone before listening to it, it kinda isn't radio anymore.
post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hansii View Post

A lot of countries don't have phone companies with unlimited data plans so we pay pr MB, every byte counts. P2P might be a bit extreme, but nfinitespecter's examples are more real world. I want a process explorer that notifies me if an app is using excessive recources, then I can decide what I want to use my battery power for. I am staying with 1.1.3 untill 2.0 is jailbroken, an iPhone without Intelliscreen is half as much of a phone.

If you put the content on the phone before listening to it, it kinda isn't radio anymore.

Now I'm even more confused. If you pay for each bit data separately then why even consider using internet radio?

As for a process explorer, are there rules in the SDK that restrict developers from making an app to view the current processes? If you think this should be how users decide how to delegate app usage, I dont' think we should expect the average user to analyze Activity Monitor on a phone.
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post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Now I'm even more confused. If you pay for each bit data separately then why even consider using internet radio?

As for a process explorer, are there rules in the SDK that restrict developers from making an app to view the current processes? If you think this should be how users decide how to delegate app usage, I dont' think we should expect the average user to analyze Activity Monitor on a phone.

The SDK restricts you from having any app active when not being used as the main applicaiton, so an app that warns users of battery hogs is not possible.

I am willing to pay for internet radio, since it is live streamed over the air, I need internet (or radio) otherwise it is not possible by any stretch of the imagination. An app that makes a noise when I forget about a new SMS would't really need internet on any other OS since all it's data is stored locally, now it would have to sync up to the cloud and then have a server notify the phone of the forgotten SMS.
post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hansii View Post

The SDK restricts you from having any app active when not being used as the main applicaiton, so an app that warns users of battery hogs is not possible.


I'm well aware of that. But you've mention that Apple's push technology is a bandwidth eater that you are not willing to pay for, but then go on about wanting to use internet radio. Your argument seems unfocused. That quoted sentence seems to be in reply to my question about what are you paying for, which you seem to think Apple's solution is costly, yet the data being sent is much lower than maintaining a constant connection to an IM client, not to mention P2P or internet radio.

Apple has made a choice that seems to fit in with most users' needs. Not all devices fit everyone's needs. If it is an unacceptable constraint then the iPhone is not for you or you'll need to wait until it is jailbroken to use these always-on apps. You can either eat through your battery life, reduce performance and use bandwidth; or you can reduce those three, but at the cost of running certain application types
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post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm well aware of that. But you've mention that Apple's push technology is a bandwidth eater that you are not willing to pay for, but then go on about wanting to use internet radio. Your argument seems unfocused. That quoted sentence seems to be in reply to my question about what are you paying for, which you seem to think Apple's solution is costly, yet the data being sent is much lower than maintaining a constant connection to an IM client, not to mention P2P or internet radio.

Apple has made a choice that seems to fit in with most users' needs. Not all devices fit everyone's needs. If it is an unacceptable constraint then the iPhone is not for you or you'll need to wait until it is jailbroken to use these always-on apps. You can either eat through your battery life, reduce performance and use bandwidth; or you can reduce those three, but at the cost of running certain application types

An applicaiton that runs in the background isn't bound to use a lot of battery, I have no problems with my jailbroken phone with any of my apps.

Since I am not getting my point across, let me try with an analogy: On your car you pay for fuel in order for it to go, but you don't have to pay for fuel to open the sunroof or your windows.

Internet radio is like the car going to a place, by definition it needs energy, opening the sunroof (getting a notification about a forgotten SMS) doesn't really need energy in the same manner (at least not energy I have to pay for).

I don't know if that made any sense, if not, I think you should just let it go :-)
post #40 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It might have been PointCast, and it seemed like several major companies tried to push it or technologies like it on computer users, but I don't know anyone that actually used it at all.

We have a winner.

PointCast was doomed, in part, by the lack of bandwidth across the general backbone, the variety of ways to connect to the backbone, a decade of network design not yet implemented and much more.

Clever idea when it's got web services and more to make it happen.

XML didn't even exist. Schemas weren't a reality and more.
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