The Problem With Push: What’s Going on at Apple HQ?

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Something’s rotten in Cupertino, and Apple fans running the 3.0 firmware are beginning to get anxious as a result. I’m talking about push notifications, of course, which have yet to dazzle and amaze most iPhone owners running 3.0. A few apps are trickling in with some push features, but by and large, the headline apps that would provide game-changing push functionality have been left out in the cold.

If you’ve been monitoring “push notifications” on Twitter like I have to try to catch new apps as they come out, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. The majority of talk seems to be vitriol against Apple for not approving the push-enabled version of the popular Beejive instant messenger, which has been under review for at least a week and a half now. Also in high demand is IM+, also currently under review, and AIM. Basically, people really want an IM client with push, and also a Twitter client, though I’ve yet to see any conclusive proof that there is definitely one that is either pending review or in the works.

News now comes from a site that was trying to monitor and aggregate all live apps which include push notification, AppAdvice.com. They received word from an iPhone developer that Apple is to blame for the delays regarding push-capable apps. Dominik Balogh, who worked on the app NotifyMe, which uses push to remind you of to-do list tasks, reportedly received an email from Apple App Store staff claiming that the problems are on Apple’s side of things, and that they haven’t worked through all of the push bugs just yet.

Note that some apps, though, are live and are working fine, such as Tap Tap Revenge 2, among a growing list of others. I’m still running the AIM Developer preview released prior to 3.0’s official launch, and it is working like a charm, with virtually no lag time. That tells me that Apple’s servers are up and running, so the problem is probably more an anticipated one than something that’s already having an effect. Balogh describes a problem in the MacRumors forum having to do with feedback check, which he explains there, but it only happens 4 percent of the time, and probably wouldn’t justify a complete freeze on heavy-use push apps alone.

My bet is that Apple is only now realizing how much it will have to scale its infrastructure to deal with the volume that will come with push support for widely used apps like Beejive, which would presumably be making very frequent calls to the server for each user. The 3.0 release was attached to a pretty fixed timeline, so it isn’t terribly surprising that not everything was ready for launch. Better a little catch-up on the back-end than significant bugs and failures on the user’s side, like with the 2.0 launch. That said, gimme my Beejive push!

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