Facebook iPhone App Update Brings Push Notifications, Contact Sync

It seems like forever ago that Facebook promised push notification support in version 3.1 of its incredibly popular iPhone app (iTunes link). Now it has arrived, just in time to usher in 2010. 3.1 brings the promised push notifications, and also the ability to sync your Facebook contacts with your iPhone’s Address Book for a more seamless communication experience.

Right away upon opening the app, you’ll be asked if you want to enable push notifications, and you’ll also encounter a dialog box asking you about contact syncing. Turning syncing on will automatically add links to the Facebook profiles of all the people it finds in your address book, and you can also choose to replace the photos for those contacts with their Facebook profile pictures. Read More about Facebook iPhone App Update Brings Push Notifications, Contact Sync

The 11 Best iPhone Apps of 2009

Bolstered by arrival of the 3GS, launch of in-app purchasing and push notifications, the iPhone apps of 2009 have become richer and more robust experiences. Across 11 categories, here were this year’s standouts.

Facebook 3.1 Highlights All That’s Wrong With Push Notifications

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In a tweet on Monday, Joe Hewitt, developer of the iPhone Facebook app, announced that the next major update (version 3.1 to be precise) will finally bring Push Notifications to the popular application.

Facebook is easily one of the most popular free apps available in the iTunes App Store. I think you’d be hard pressed to find an iPhone without it. Version 3.0 was a mammoth update to earlier, functionally limited releases, and was eagerly anticipated and reported widely in the tech press. And yet, the lack of support for Apple’s Push Notification Services was, and remains, conspicuous. Adding Push Notifications is the no-brainer icing on the cake function for end-users who don’t spend every second in the app but value being kept in-the-loop with timely updates. It’s also the last major hurdle to making the social networking app practically perfect. (Probably.) Read More about Facebook 3.1 Highlights All That’s Wrong With Push Notifications

Work Better With Google Sync for iPhone, Now With Push Gmail

syncAs I noted over at TheAppleBlog, Google (s goog) has turned on push for Gmail on the iPhone. That means that your incoming messages will be pushed from the Google servers to your phone, instead of your phone having to call in periodically to check for new mail. It means you’ll be more up-to-date, and your phone will use a lot less of your battery’s power than if you use Apple’s Fetch alternative.
For Gmail users with an iPhone who work from home, this is great news. Often, those of us not plugged in to the corporate world miss out on the little niceties like Exchange (s msft) information syncing. Google Sync, now that it includes Gmail, offers a great free alternative for those of us who’ve left our office working days behind. And it uses Microsoft Exchange technology to do it. Read More about Work Better With Google Sync for iPhone, Now With Push Gmail

Google Sync Gets Push Gmail Support on the iPhone

gmail_sync_comicOh, MobileMe, how will you deal with this latest threat to your iPhone (s aapl) feature dominance? First it was improved Exchange support, and now it’s push Gmail using Google Sync.

Remember Google Sync? It’s the service from Google (s goog) which allows you to synchronize your contacts and calendar with your iPhone or iPod touch, in much the same way that MobileMe users can, only using a free service instead of a paid one. With Gmail push support, the trifecta of basic services is now complete. Read More about Google Sync Gets Push Gmail Support on the iPhone

Weekly App Store Picks: September 5, 2009

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The first week of September has seen a deluge of new arrivals at the App Store. It’s time for me to search through the latest releases for iPhone and hand-pick my recommendations for the past seven days.

This week I’ve been looking at Button, Facebook, BlogPress and Quicksilver.
appicon_buttonButton (Free)
One of my favorite sci-fi novels, “Better Than Life,” oscillates between a deep space distopia and an almost perfect Earth as it follows the surviving crew members of the Red Dwarf mining ship. It’s soon revealed that the crew’s collective vision of Earth is actually a highly addictive massively multiplayer online game beamed directly into their brains, leaving their real bodies in a seemingly catatonic state. Rather than take a giant leap towards this sinister style of multiplayer gaming, Button instead takes baby steps. There’s a big button, everyone around the world sees the button, when the button lights up you must push the button, sometimes you win a prize, usually you don’t. Button is effectively a nonsensical distraction that seems to tickle just the right bit of your brain. Plus, you can ramp up the futility by playing as a team. I’ve created a special team called tab just for readers of TheAppleBlog, come join my group and let’s push buttons together. Read More about Weekly App Store Picks: September 5, 2009

Updated Yahoo! Messenger for iPhone “Pushes” AIM Aside

Yahoo! Messenger IconYahoo (s yhoo) announced today an eagerly awaited update to Yahoo! Messenger for the iPhone that brings about support for push notifications, joining rival AIM. With the latest updates, Yahoo is continuing to push the bar (pun intended) and give AIM a run for its money (pun not intended).

If you are new to chatting, the three major players in the market are AIM (s twx), Yahoo and Microsoft (s msft) (what market are they not part of?). While AIM remains at the top of the mountain (offering great integration for MobileMe customers), rival Yahoo is making it harder for users to stay attached to AIM’s service. For those who aren’t completely satisfied with what AIM has to offer, Yahoo! Messenger is a great alternative or supplement and is a bit more robust, with support for adding users of Microsoft’s MSN Messenger service. Read More about Updated Yahoo! Messenger for iPhone “Pushes” AIM Aside

10 Instant Messaging Apps for the iPhone

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When push notification finally made its way to the iPhone, a lot of people were anticipating IMs pushed to their iPhone. At first, I scoffed at this idea. I’d always figured IMs were based around the “instant” part of the phrase, and someone pushing an IM to me might be disappointed if I don’t get back to them right away. Well, guess who’s been a big iPhone IM-er since 3.0 came out? Go on, you’ll never guess. Yep, it’s me. I’d like my crow with a side of au jus, and a loaded baked potato, please.

First a quick word of warning: by no means are my comments here to be construed as any sort of a formal review. While I’ve tried to run all of these apps through their paces, I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling any of my comments a review — they’re more like first impressions.

That said, while there are 10 apps we tested out, it quickly became clear to me this was a race between Beejive and IM+ Push. The important criteria for me were: the ability to connect to multiple IM protocols (and multiple accounts of the same protocol), the ability to do push notifications, and the app not requiring its own server-side account to operate. Price, as they say, was no object. When you get right down to it, the difference between many of these apps is only $5-7. My afternoon brownie indulgence costs more than that.

Over the last week, I’ve been receiving push notifications from at least one of these apps during testing, if not more than one, and I didn’t notice a detrimental effect on my battery life — with the usual disclaimer that if I spent my entire train ride home IMing friends, I’d see a battery hit.

Without further ado, here are my findings. Read More about 10 Instant Messaging Apps for the iPhone

Push Gmail For iPhone (Almost) Here

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One of the only reasons I’ve stuck it out with my MobileMe account, despite numerous quirks, annoyances and outright failures, is push email. For the iPhone to be useful to me as a business device, I need it to keep me up to date on my email in real time (or as close to it as MobileMe’s push can achieve). Contact and calendar syncing are nice, but both can now be done using your Google information if you’d rather not pay the $100 annual MobileMe subscription fee. Gmail push would complete the picture, and it could be on the way.

And by could, I mean it definitely exists, as demonstrated by TechCrunch’s hands-on with the app that makes it possible. Yes, it’s via a third-party app, and there is no official word from either Google (s goog) or Apple (s aapl) that Gmail push on the iPhone has finally arrived. Not surprising, considering the money Apple stands to lose in MobileMe subscriptions if Gmail, which is not only incredibly popular, but free, manages to replicate the one trick MobileMe still has up its sleeve. Read More about Push Gmail For iPhone (Almost) Here

Work Smarter Using iPhone Push Notifications

iPhone OS 3.0 brings a lot of new features to the table, but I could’ve easily gone on living without all of them, copy and paste included, except for push notifications. Push is the killer feature that elevates the iPhone platform to a whole new level of usability, both as a standalone device, and as a piece of companion hardware to your existing workstation setup.

The iPhone has taken the place of an entire screen in my current home office configuration, freeing up a whole display for more productive use. Here’s a breakdown of the apps that make this possible, and how I use them.