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Apple begins stress testing iPhone 3.0 push notifications

post #1 of 31
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Apple this week enlisted the services of the Associated Press and called upon many of its iPhone developers to help stress test its new Push Notification service slated for delivery in iPhone 3.0.

In an email sent to iPhone developers, Apple wrote, "We have selected a pre-release version of the Associated Press app for iPhone OS 3.0 to create a high-volume test environment for our servers."

The test application, which requires iPhone OS 3.0 beta 5, will be active over the next week and will then expire. During that time, "AP will be sending a high-volume of real news alerts" to give Apple an opportunity to monitor how well the system works and what optimizations can be made.

Originally planned to arrive last fall, Apple's Push Notification system was delayed after the company realized that it had underestimated the demand third parties would make of the system.

After realizing its original design would not adequately serve the needs of developers or users, Apple pulled the plug and returned to the proverbial drawing board to create a supportable system that was up to the task of serving alerts to the audience of tens of millions of iPhone and iPod touch users.

XMPP pubsub and push notifications

Apple's new iPhone 3.0 push notification system for sending alerts from third party application developers to mobile users is believed to use the same technology as its push notification system for MobileMe and the push notification system planned for Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server.

In all cases, the alert being "pushed" is minimal, essentially a tweet that indicates more information is ready. The notification alerts act like an instant message because that's exactly what they are; an analysis of MobileMe push messages indicates Apple is using the open source XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), used in Jabber.

In addition to powering basic Jabber instant messaging in products like GoogleTalk and Apple's iChat and iChat Server, the XMPP specification also supports pubsub (publish and subscribe), a feature that enables XMPP clients to post XML data to a Jabber server, and then allows other client systems to subscribe to the node and receive a notification whenever the data changes.

This powerful feature enables all sorts of applications, and Apple's apparent use of it to power everything from application alerts on the iPhone to email, calendar, and contact changes in its MobileMe cloud services and its server product only hints at the future possibilities and potential of the technology.

Apple's extensive use of the open source XMPP pubsub technology also highlights the absurdity of rumors that the company was about to buy Twitter, a private and proprietary messaging system that has been described as "SMS for the Internet."
post #2 of 31
It would be nice to see Apple support XMPP for their instant messaging service rather than use the AIM protocol. Would unify things nicely.
post #3 of 31
I just got my first AP News Push. ZOMG common and well traveled technology works in a new way!!!!!


Seriously, I was a bit excited, now lets get it in a more useful app like BeejiveIM and FaceBook.
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post #4 of 31
Won't allow us to play our radios on our existing iPhones though. Interesting, that's about it.
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post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Won't allow us to play our radios on our existing iPhones though. Interesting, that's about it.

Of course not, that will come with background apps in the future. I would have thought Apple would have allowed you to import your iTunes radio into the iPod app so you could stream it by now, but I guess not.
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post #6 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I just got my first AP News Push. ZOMG common and well traveled technology works in a new way!!!!!


Seriously, I was a bit excited, now lets get it in a more useful app like BeejiveIM and FaceBook.

Ditto.

However, Apple has yet to tell us how it's going to manage sending lots of notifications to users at once. I mean, if servers get to send a message as often as you'd like, does that mean that you're going to constantly keep getting messages? I'd like to see more granular control on an app-by-app basis (like AIM could be real-time, or delayed by a minute, where as AP would be every 5 minutes or so)

Also, for those that aren't aware, push is limited to 256 bytes minus whatever is used to format the message (sound file names and badge numbers are sent as well as plain text). That means long messages definitely won't be allowed.
post #7 of 31
Stress tests!!?

Oh no..... they are on to mobile phones now.....
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

Ditto.

However, Apple has yet to tell us how it's going to manage sending lots of notifications to users at once. I mean, if servers get to send a message as often as you'd like, does that mean that you're going to constantly keep getting messages? I'd like to see more granular control on an app-by-app basis (like AIM could be real-time, or delayed by a minute, where as AP would be every 5 minutes or so)

Also, for those that aren't aware, push is limited to 256 bytes minus whatever is used to format the message (sound file names and badge numbers are sent as well as plain text). That means long messages definitely won't be allowed.

I agree, the pop-up notification scheme (plus modifiable app badges) that Apple has been using is not ideal. I wish they would implement"a Today" screen that keeps that info in one place.

They could put it "above" the springboard, just as search is going to be "to the left", accessible with a swipe.
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post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

Ditto.

However, Apple has yet to tell us how it's going to manage sending lots of notifications to users at once. I mean, if servers get to send a message as often as you'd like, does that mean that you're going to constantly keep getting messages? I'd like to see more granular control on an app-by-app basis (like AIM could be real-time, or delayed by a minute, where as AP would be every 5 minutes or so)

I doubt well be able to, at least at first. While each app developer will have to maintain servers for their connected apps any Push Notifications (PN) get pushed through Apples PN servers. With all the added issues with the service causing lengthy delays Id expect it to just be a simple push when it gets the notification. comes in then repackaged and gets pushed out again in the queue. I doubt theyd even have an QoS for notifications like IM that one would expect would be more time sensitive than a new article on AP News.

Quote:
Also, for those that aren't aware, push is limited to 256 bytes minus whatever is used to format the message (sound file names and badge numbers are sent as well as plain text). That means long messages definitely won't be allowed.

Nor should it be allowed. An email header is substantially larger than these messages. I love the concept of PN, I just hope they get it right before the 3.0 launch. Another mess up like last years MobileMe launch, even if just an issue for a couple days will not go over well for the service.
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post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I agree, the pop-up notification scheme (plus modifiable app badges) that Apple has been using is not ideal. I wish they would implement"a Today" screen that keeps that info in one place.

They could put it "above" the springboard, just as search is going to be "to the left", accessible with a swipe.

Apple needs to rethink their whole notification system. I like the badges as they are, but they need to be accessible in a glance when you arent actively on that app icon. The ideas you mention sound good.

The text box that comes on top of the springboard is too simplistic at this point. There are many examples on nearly every smartphone that does a better job in this area. I hope this is changed by the 3.0 release.
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post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Apple needs to rethink their whole notification system. I like the badges as they are, but they need to be accessible in a glance when you aren’t actively on that app icon. The ideas you mention sound good.

The text box that comes on top of the springboard is too simplistic at this point. There are many examples on nearly every smartphone that does a better job in this area. I hope this is changed by the 3.0 release.

Yep. It's sort of surprising. Apple can be so good with UI stuff, but in a case like this they seem to be feeling their way, as if it never occurred to anyone that "notifications" might become an issue once they scaled beyond a few.

OTOH, they seem to have done a pretty good job in getting a solid first iteration of the iPhone out there, and addressing any weaknesses over time, as they get a better idea of their market wants/expects/needs, so it seems like pretty much a given that they'll do something, at some point. It would be great if a new notifications scheme were part of 3.0, but that seems pretty unlikely at this point. Maybe a point release within the year?

How much of this was always the plan and how much of it is Apple responding to feedback is anybody's guess, but I guess it doesn't really matter as long as problems are solved.
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post #12 of 31
It has become a popular phrase these days. Just goes to show you how many people follow the news and politics and can't hink for themselves when it comes to putting something in their own words.

Sheep...
post #13 of 31
What implications might this have for something like Growl?
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

What implications might this have for something like Growl?

I dont see how Growl could work within this model at all.
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post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Yep. It's sort of surprising. Apple can be so good with UI stuff, but in a case like this they seem to be feeling their way, as if it never occurred to anyone that "notifications" might become an issue once they scaled beyond a few.

OTOH, they seem to have done a pretty good job in getting a solid first iteration of the iPhone out there, and addressing any weaknesses over time, as they get a better idea of their market wants/expects/needs, so it seems like pretty much a given that they'll do something, at some point. It would be great if a new notifications scheme were part of 3.0, but that seems pretty unlikely at this point. Maybe a point release within the year?

How much of this was always the plan and how much of it is Apple responding to feedback is anybody's guess, but I guess it doesn't really matter as long as problems are solved.

I forget which newer OS had I pretty good setup, I think it was Android, but Im not sure. They have to realize that their system will be limited without a change, and since the PN code wasnt even setup until Beta 5 and they finally are doing developer testing with one app things cold change a lot in this area before release.

Maybe even a notification app or at least a 3rd-party app that could tie into your notifications. CLick on it and see all the ones youve received. Read the ones with text and then enter the app from the text if you wish. Having this accessible from double clicking the Home Button or double tapping the screen would be nice. Something absurdly simple and natural to do a million times a day.
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post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I forget which newer OS had I pretty good setup, I think it was Android, but Im not sure. They have to realize that their system will be limited without a change, and since the PN code wasnt even setup until Beta 5 and they finally are doing developer testing with one app things cold change a lot in this area before release.

Maybe even a notification app or at least a 3rd-party app that could tie into your notifications. CLick on it and see all the ones youve received. Read the ones with text and then enter the app from the text if you wish. Having this accessible from double clicking the Home Button or double tapping the screen would be nice. Something absurdly simple and natural to do a million times a day.

Right. A full screen, with newest events listed and expandable to lists, with direct access to the relevant apps. Give folks the option to make it their home screen, or invoke it with a simple gesture or tap and give it a cool animation, to distinguish it from "normal" apps.

Of course, as the number of apps that want to let you know something has happened continues to grow, there may not be a great solution to handling everything on one small screen.

The whole point of notifications is that you want to know about them in real time, but if you've got several email accounts, chat , IM, Twitter, calendars, etc., etc. (with surely more to come) all vying for your attention I'm not quite sure how you incorporate that into a system that keeps you notified without driving you crazy. Maybe just an led somewhere to let you know something has happened, and it's up to you to go to the notifications screen? Maybe a secondary dock on the adjacent screen so you can put all of your chatty apps where you can keep an eye on them?
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post #17 of 31
Chances are, Apple will let you customize your phone to only receive badges, to be a little less annoying (you don't see them in real time) and I assume Apple will screen Apps for customizable alerts. Say you submit an app to iTunes, and it can't manually deactivate a certain type of alert, then it will get rejected. I'd expect this to be the way to get around it.
post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I agree, the pop-up notification scheme (plus modifiable app badges) that Apple has been using is not ideal. I wish they would implement"a Today" screen that keeps that info in one place.

They could put it "above" the springboard, just as search is going to be "to the left", accessible with a swipe.

sounds like more then an ideal solution to me
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I agree, the pop-up notification scheme (plus modifiable app badges) that Apple has been using is not ideal. I wish they would implement"a Today" screen that keeps that info in one place.

They could put it "above" the springboard, just as search is going to be "to the left", accessible with a swipe.

That doesn't sound too bad with a nice animation. I don't even think the way search is implemented is a good idea. I would have like to see a triple home button click for search.
post #20 of 31
Watch the keynote. Customization is coming to push notifications. This changes everything. No, the default method is NOT intuitive for a large volume of notifications. No kidding. But you'd have to be a 2 year old not to see past this, to the difference made by.............OPTIONS.

For worthless apps, like "news" applications, Pop up set to Off, Sound set to Off, Badge set to On.

For your primary IM application, Pop up set to On, etc...etc...etc...

For a Facebook Notification, a sound and badge might work.

It will take some time to decide how you like to use the combination of 3 notifiers. But it will work brilliantly for most apps that need some ability to receive and notify in the background.

1000X superior to horrible, battery-draining "background" processes. Sorry I like using my iPhone all day, not for 5 minutes while streaming 3G radio while typing an email with one thumb and an SMS with the other.
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

Watch the keynote. Customization is coming to push notifications. This changes everything. No, the default method is NOT intuitive for a large volume of notifications. No kidding. But you'd have to be a 2 year old not to see past this, to the difference made by.............OPTIONS.

For worthless apps, like "news" applications, Pop up set to Off, Sound set to Off, Badge set to On.

For your primary IM application, Pop up set to On, etc...etc...etc...

For a Facebook Notification, a sound and badge might work.

It will take some time to decide how you like to use the combination of 3 notifiers. But it will work brilliantly for most apps that need some ability to receive and notify in the background.

1000X superior to horrible, battery-draining "background" processes. Sorry I like using my iPhone all day, not for 5 minutes while streaming 3G radio while typing an email with one thumb and an SMS with the other.

I don't think it's a good idea. If the news app is so worthless, then why bother to have a notification in the first place. You have to sift through eleven pages of apps just to see the badge above the icon.

As for IM's, there will be constant stream of popups on the screen and I can see that getting annoying very quickly especially when you may be doing something more important. I can also see sound alerts getting annoying when listening to music. You could very easily be in a situation when you can have more than 3 apps running notifications. Maybe 5 or 6. I can see a situation like this being a real headache.

I think it would be poor way to go about it. There has to be some kind of unified system instead of everything being a scattershot. As for background processes, one day the iPhone will have to have the ability to do two things at once. The best solution is to have both the PNS and background apps but current hardware can't support the latter for third party apps.

Apple is usually far better than this when it comes to UI. I hope they surprise us with something special at WWDC. If you're reading this Apple, FIX THIS!
post #22 of 31
Sometimes, for the first generation, they just have to get it working well enough. Then they can get the GUI down pat. I wouldn't expect it to be perfect at first.
post #23 of 31
Are there any special requirements for getting this code? I'm a paid developer, I'm using Beta 5 SDK/OS.

Never got this e-mail/promo code? Anyone else?
post #24 of 31
Easy. Less verbose notification when the Silent switch is on.
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

Are there any special requirements for getting this code? I'm a paid developer, I'm using Beta 5 SDK/OS.

Never got this e-mail/promo code? Anyone else?

Luck of the draw. So far I’ve only received one notification from AP News.

It also looks like the per-app settings will be in place from the start.


(click each photo for full size)
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post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

I don't think it's a good idea. If the news app is so worthless, then why bother to have a notification in the first place. You have to sift through eleven pages of apps just to see the badge above the icon.

As for IM's, there will be constant stream of popups on the screen and I can see that getting annoying very quickly especially when you may be doing something more important. I can also see sound alerts getting annoying when listening to music. You could very easily be in a situation when you can have more than 3 apps running notifications. Maybe 5 or 6. I can see a situation like this being a real headache.

I think it would be poor way to go about it. There has to be some kind of unified system instead of everything being a scattershot. As for background processes, one day the iPhone will have to have the ability to do two things at once. The best solution is to have both the PNS and background apps but current hardware can't support the latter for third party apps.

Apple is usually far better than this when it comes to UI. I hope they surprise us with something special at WWDC. If you're reading this Apple, FIX THIS!

I still don't think you understand the versatility of the options. You need to mentally break it down and understand that all 3 options are 3 completely different push notifications

1. Alert (Pop Up) - for the Apps that you wish to receive immediate short message updates from.

2. Sound Prompt - to alert you audibly that a new message/update/item is available from the particular app.

3. Badge - for the Apps that you wish receive a submit numerical reminder of the number of new updates/messages/items waiting for you within a particular app.
------

Depending on your usage, these three options provide for completely different experiences.

The point is it doesn't have to be one way or another, each user has ability to use it as they wish.

Its really unfair the way this Push Notification system has been written off by everyone as being too little too late, when really its the perfect balance between the need for apps to receive and notify from the background, and preserving battery life. No I don't work for Apple. Its common sense.
post #27 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Luck of the draw. So far Ive only received one notification from AP News.

It also looks like the per-app settings will be in place from the start.


(click each photo for full size)

Thank you for posting these images and showing everyone what I'm talking about
post #28 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by hailstorm View Post

It would be nice to see Apple support XMPP for their instant messaging service rather than use the AIM protocol. Would unify things nicely.

Agreed, then this might also push AOL & others to move from their proprietary garbage to XMPP & also boost some of the development of XMPP. We use OpenFire for our company Jabber service, would be nice to get some renewed interest by Apple into XMPP cause iChat Jabber service is junk!
post #29 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

I still don't think you understand the versatility of the options. You need to mentally break it down and understand that all 3 options are 3 completely different push notifications

1. Alert (Pop Up) - for the Apps that you wish to receive immediate short message updates from.

2. Sound Prompt - to alert you audibly that a new message/update/item is available from the particular app.

3. Badge - for the Apps that you wish receive a submit numerical reminder of the number of new updates/messages/items waiting for you within a particular app.
------

Depending on your usage, these three options provide for completely different experiences.

The point is it doesn't have to be one way or another, each user has ability to use it as they wish.

Its really unfair the way this Push Notification system has been written off by everyone as being too little too late, when really its the perfect balance between the need for apps to receive and notify from the background, and preserving battery life. No I don't work for Apple. Its common sense.

I think a distinction should be made between "push" and "notification." I don't disagree that Apple's push implementation may quite nice, and a good way of getting some of the functionality of background apps without the battery hit.

However, If I have a lot of push enabled apps, no matter how I divvy up my notifications I'm still going to have to choose between having to go hunt for badge notification or being interrupted in whatever I'm doing.

Pop-ups are the worst offender, but a constant barrage of audio alerts aren't much better.

While I don't think Apple has to abandon the options they're providing now, it would be very nice to have some kind of low key, on-screen-but-not-invasive alert that could link to a unified new activity page.

That way, I don't have to choose between burying the information on a fifth app screen or being annoyed.
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post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

However, If I have a lot of push enabled apps, no matter how I divvy up my notifications I'm still going to have to choose between having to go hunt for badge notification or being interrupted in whatever I'm doing.

Pop-ups are the worst offender, but a constant barrage of audio alerts aren't much better.

Id wager that the best youll get is being able to turn off the annoying notifications from individual apps, as shown above.
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post #31 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Id wager that the best youll get is being able to turn off the annoying notifications from individual apps, as shown above.

Yep, looks like it. But I hope that Apple is working on a unified notification page, ala a "Today" page that can be toggled as a home screen in preferences. Just makes to much sense to ignore.

But, being Apple, who knows? Maybe the idea runs athwart of some Jobsian theory of Zen economy.
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