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The big day is only a week away, and it looks like no one is more keenly aware of that fact than Apple (s aapl). Those enrolled in the iPhone Development Program received an email late today telling them to go download a developer preview version of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) in order to further test Apple’s push notification servers. Included in the email was a special code redeemable via iTunes.
Unlike the AP News app, no specific expiration date is specified for the AIM preview, though the email does state that the app can only be installed on iPhones using the 3.0 GM Seed. Most likely, next week when everyone upgrades to the full, final version of 3.0, this version of AIM will no longer be operational.
The beta app doesn’t boast any new feature additions or functionality beyond the push notifications, but they are definitely impressive. Unlike with AP News, when we were basically at the mercy of its schedule in terms of receiving pushed content, it’s fairly easy to engineer a received message in AIM. I tested it out with a number of people, including myself, just to make sure things were running smoothly, and they definitely were.
New messages bring up a notification window, with the message and the user name of the sender, and play the AOL chime that has become permanently associated with the AIM brand identity. The app icon is also badged with the number of unread messages, and it does increase if more than one message is received. New messages replace old ones, in terms of the content of the notification window. I can see rapid-fire AIM conversations becoming very aggravating unless they introduce some way to customize how you receive consecutive messages from the same user.
Potentially annoying or not, this true test of push notification in a more user-controlled setting is very promising. If possible, I’m now more impatient for next Wednesday to arrive, after which point I’ll be relieved for exactly two minutes before I begin anticipating next Friday and the official release of the 3G S. Heady times for Apple fans.