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Summary:

Remember when you had to click on an application to make it active, and hit refresh in order to find out if anything new had happened? It’s been a long while now, since most desktop programs can run in the background and notify you when something […]

prowl

Remember when you had to click on an application to make it active, and hit refresh in order to find out if anything new had happened? It’s been a long while now, since most desktop programs can run in the background and notify you when something requires your attention. The iPhone approximates that same functionality via the newly introduced push notification features, though apps aren’t actually running in the background, so special support is required from app developers to enable it.

As far as I’m concerned, push has already been a game-changer. My iPhone is now my dedicated IM client, lets me monitor any and all Blue Jays games no matter where I am, and keeps me on-task with my to-do list. But that’s not all. Thanks to a new app called Prowl ($2.99, iTunes link), my iPhone can keep me abreast of pretty much anything, via my Mac and a useful app many will already be familiar with, Growl.

Growl, in case you aren’t aware, is an open notification platform for OS X that supports a wide variety of applications. Basically, it alerts you via an on-screen pop-up and/or sound when one of its supported applications receives a message, finishes a task, and so on. So, for example, using a Mail plugin, I receive a Growl notification whenever I get an email, or when I’m mentioned or receive a DM on Twitter via Tweetie’s built-in Growl support. It’s a very handy tool to have, especially if you keep your dock hidden, as I do, or if you’re working with many different applications on multiple screens.

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Now you can receive Growl notifications on your iPhone, too, in the form of push notifications, thanks to Prowl. I can’t even begin to explain how useful this could potentially be, depending on your usage. Already, I have it set up to notify me of new mail (which works better than Apple’s wn push mail, in my opinion, because it allows me to see the sender and some content of the received message), let me know when I receive new @ replies and DMs via Twitter (which I can then check out in Tweetie), and alert me whenever Transmission finishes downloading or seeding a torrent file.

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Not only can Prowl alert you of whatever Growl can, but it can also receive custom alerts sent from a web interface. When you set up Prowl, you sign up for an account that’s necessary for syncing Growl on your computer with Prowl on your iPhone. Using that same login, you can go to the Prowl web site and send yourself messages. Any applicable content in that message will be automatically hot-linked, like emails and phone numbers. Very handy for sending a contact number to yourself for future reference.

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Prowl is potentially the most effective application of push I’ve yet seen on the iPhone platform, especially if you’re already using Growl (which you should be). The best part is that it’s limited only by Growl itself, which is infinitely expandable, so long as developers keep supporting it. Probably the best $3 I’ve ever spent in the App Store.

  1. So Prowl requires a mac running somewhere? That’s a shame since I use a stationary pc most of the time and my macbook far less often.

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    1. Well duh. Growl is a Mac only app. So you need a Mac to use it.

      You act like this is surprising?

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    2. Of course not. But I was hoping Prowl could use a standalone server instead of using a computer.

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    3. From Prowl’s description in the app store: “Notifications from your Mac or Windows computer….”

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  2. Actually, there’s a version of Growl for Windows too: http://www.growlforwindows.com/

    Not sure it’s compatible with Prowl yet, but it’s at least feasible.

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  3. it looks like you could interface directly with their website rather than use growl at all.

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  4. Just downloaded and tested it. It’s rather cool!

    Great for when I’m working at home and not sat at the iMac or laptop and a message comes through rather than having to check the screen every 5 minutes.

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  5. What IM application do you use that has push support? I am curious what the best IM application is, I am hesitant to buy any of the $10 chat apps, first off just dont think chat is worth paying that much and if it the app sucks, $10 is a lot to waste.

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    1. I bought Beejive long ago since I was pretty sure they would add push (which they did) and I really like it. I can only compare it to the free version of Palringo, but Beejive’s definately worth its price.

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    2. Alexander Kellett Monday, July 6, 2009

      to save you the trouble…
      i’ve used beejive for the last year.
      its horribly unreliable.
      don’t bother.
      get im+ with push.
      it actually works, and has skype too.
      Alex (who is quite pissed off with beejive because he paid the $14 starting price and it NEVER worked reliably enough for him to be comfortable using it for anything of any importance)

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    3. Alex thanks for the information! Also just looked today and IM+ is on sale right now for $4.99

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  6. So, if your mac has growl notifications set, but the computer is currently off (lets say its at home, and I go out to run errands), will those not be pushed, or will it be kept on a network somewhere and pushed anyway?

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    1. Since it requiers a client download for the Mac, it will only work if the computer is online. And thats the big turndown for me, since I only use a laptop thats asleep when im out running…

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  7. scifi451: Beejive is a great IM client with push. Im very happy with it.

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  8. popurls.com // popular today…

    story has entered the popular today section on popurls.com…

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  9. According to http://prowl.weks.net/faq.php , you can use the perl script to send out notifications instead of relying on growl notifications. Easy scripting of push notifications ftw.

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  10. Prowl sounds fabulous – I can’t wait to try it.

    Just d/led Beejive today and have been exercising it. Seems to work very well.

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