Review: Push.Co1st Nov, 2013
A new way to subscribe to content on the Internet.
There’s no shortage of means to stay up to date on your favorite websites. Email lists, Twitter, Facebook pages and the far-from-dead RSS feed are all good options. What it really comes down to is what method you like best. Personally, I’ve found Twitter to be my perfect RSS and email subscription replacement, but I’ve come across another interesting option. Push.Co will deliver updates from your favorite sites via push notifications to your iPhone.
It’s at this point I’ll admit that this post is part review and part shameless promotion. Shitty iPhone Apps is using Push.Co (so feel free to subscribe).
The way the service works is simple. Websites / developers create “apps” using Push’s service. App creators select what to send push notifications about. This can be done either using their API to automate the process, or configuring a Wordpress plugin or RSS feed. Notifications can also be send manually from Push’s web app. Notifications can be up to 140 characters in length and include additional media like photos and URL’s.
Ok, great. So it’s awesome for developers and publishers who want to reach people more directly. But why would a regular person want to use Push.Co? It’s entirely possible to receive push notifications from specific Twitter users, emails or Facebook pages, why yet another source of notifications? The answer is channels.
Apps can be configured to have a set of “channels”, which is simply a source’s content divided into categories. This way, readers can subscribe to only specific types of updates from various sources. If website does a great job covering breaking news, but doesn’t have great “feature” articles readers don’t have to subscribe to every update from a source to see what they care about.
Shitty iPhone Apps has not been built for channels, but other sources like The Next Web are a great example of how they work. For example, I already follow The Next Web on Twitter, but I could recieve push notifications from their Apps and Google channels. I’ll see all of it on Twitter, sure, but this is a great way to focus on the types of content I’m most interested in.
Push notifications come in just like any other, banners, sounds and Notification Center entries - the works. Open Push.Co and you have few options. Either you browse (or search) for apps, or you read the notifications. Notifications are given in a clean feed. A tap will bring you to the content where URLs load with an integrated browser. This is most certainly what a vast majority of content will be. The viewer also gives an easy way to share content to Facebook or Twitter. Notications may be trashed or favorited if you desire. Presumably the trashed notifications will disappear after a time but there isn’t a way I can find to explicitly “empty” the trash.
It’s also worth noting that the app didn’t perform overly well. There are frequent moments of lag when navigating around. It’s not bad enough to be unusable, but mildly annoying. There’s some work to be done in this department.
Overall, Push.Co is similar to any RSS app out there (perhaps with fewer features), but the ability to build and subscribe to specific channels sets it distinctly apart. As far as I’m aware, channels could only be achieved with RSS by actually generating separate feeds. With Push’s API, building channels looks quite simple - an absolute must if developers are going to climb aboard. That’s ultimately what it comes down to: developers.
Without developers for popular (or simply a great many) sources building support for channels, Push.Co doesn’t offer much for regular users who already get their information from Facebook, Twitter or an RSS feed. Channels are the cornerstone of Push’s value. With the giant firehose that Twitter or most other feeds are, channels offer people a chance to more selectively get the content they want.
Actual push notifications, however, may be a turn off for a lot of users. Personally, push notifications can drive me crazy. But I can always dig into Settings and disable notifications and use Push as a simple reader app. This is precisely what I’ve done, in fact.
The selective subscription functionality will ultimately be what drives Push’s success. It’s really dependent on developers / publishers to utilize it, but from the looks of the available apps there’s strong interest. Unfortunately, not every app has made use of channels, but with names like The Verge, Wired, The Next Web (using their own app, duh), and TechCrunch having a presence on the service already, there’s great potential.
I haven’t looked too heavily into implementing channels for Shitty iPhone Apps yet so the channel is simply notifications for new posts. But as both a developer and a publisher I’m very interested in doing so.
Push.Co: 2/5 piles of poo.