Apple overhauling iPhone notification system?

A report says Apple is poised to acquire an iPhone app maker whose product will be used to give iOS notifications a makeover.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
2 min read
Almost two years since Apple first introduced its push notifications for iOS, is it getting ready for a major overhaul?
Almost two years since Apple first introduced its push notifications for iOS, is it getting ready for a major overhaul? James Martin/CNET

To cap off a week chock-full of Apple-related rumors, we now have this: is Apple about to acquire a company in the process of giving its iOS notifications system a major makeover?

Apple blog Cult of Mac says it's hearing exactly that from a source, who is not named. The company Apple is allegedly buying isn't confirmed in the report, but is said to be "small" and currently has an application available for sale in the iOS App Store.

Now that would describe about a thousand companies. But there aren't that many that do slick notification apps. Cult of Mac has zeroed in on App Remix, the company that makes the app called Boxcar.

Boxcar pools all of your social media feeds and delivers your notifications from each into one app. (App Remix's CEO apparently had "no comment" on Cult of Mac's query as to whether Apple plans on making the company an offer.)

Apple's own notification system isn't regarded as the most stellar implementation. The original iPhone actually shipped without any real push notification system for third-party apps. It took Apple three iterations of the iPhone's software before it found a system it liked. But the system employed in Palm's original Pre smartphone featuring WebOS is still roundly praised as the best in the business. Hewlett-Packard, of course, owns WebOS now and recently introduced the software on several new phones and a tablet.

The man who invented the WebOS notification system, Rich Dellinger, actually quit Palm just after the HP acquisition last year to return to his former employer, Apple. The rumor mill heated up then that iOS' notifications were in for a big change, but nothing more has come of that--at least not yet. Apple updates its iOS software on a yearly basis, usually in June, and there's a preview event usually around March to see what will be in the next version, in this case iOS 5. It's possible we could see a new push notification process included in the next big software update for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.