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Delivery Status and Push Notifications
We’ve been getting a lot of requests for Push Notifications in Delivery Status touch—so you can see when your package status updates even if Delivery Status is closed. This is something I’d love to have as well, but it’s complicated and it may take some time. In order to handle Push Notifications properly, all of your tracking information would need to be stored on our server. Our server would then use that information to check your status every hour or so. If it noticed a change, it would send out a notification.
This sounds simple enough until you consider that there are many thousands of packages being tracked with Delivery Status at any given time, and they all need to be checked on many times throughout the day. This is a huge amount of work for our server! Since you can buy Delivery Status touch for only $3 and track any number of packages, we simply can’t afford it.
Also consider services like Amazon and Google. It would not be possible to provide proper Push Notifications for these services without storing your passwords on our server. No matter how many steps we take to make this secure, there’s still some additional risk involved—so I’d greatly prefer to never do it at all. Amazon is one of our most popular services (and my own favorite) so this is a big downside.
I’ve been mulling all this over for a while now, and so far I have a couple of possible solutions.
Paid notifications, limited services
One option is to charge a small, additional fee for notifications. You’d be able to choose which deliveries you get notifications for. For example you could buy a notification package that includes three deliveries at a time for a few dollars. After a package arrives and you delete it, that would free up one of your slots.
If we took this approach we would probably also limit the services we support notifications for, at least from the start. We’d probably start with FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Over time we would add others. The tricky situation with Amazon and Google is something we could work out later—though one big thing to keep in mind is that after your Amazon package ships via UPS (for example) it could be tracked through UPS.com without requiring a password.
Free notifications sent from your computer
The other possibility I’ve considered is making use of the Delivery Status widget to check on your packages and send notifications. This basically solves all of the problems I’ve mentioned. Even the amount of work to set it all up would be much smaller, because it wouldn’t be terribly different from sending a Growl notification. But the big, big downside here is that if you shut down your Mac or put it to sleep, you wouldn’t get any notifications on your iPhone. Obviously this is not ideal.
It’s tough to gauge which of these approaches would work best for everyone, so I’d love to hear your feedback. Please fill out this one question poll to let us know what you think! While offering both options is technically possible, that’s something we’re unlikely to do—trying to explain the limitations of each could get confusing very quickly. If you have any other ideas on how we could solve this problem, I’d love to hear them. Post a comment below, or send us an email.
Update: a temporary solution if you’re anxious!
A new iPhone app was released recently called Prowl (currently $3). It uses Growl on your Mac to send Push Notifications to your iPhone. Since Delivery Status for Mac supports Growl, you can use it to send Delivery Status Push Notifications to your iPhone right now. You’ll need to install Growl on your Mac, download Prowl on your iPhone, and then follow the instructions here. Then you just need to check off the “Display notifications with Growl” option in Delivery Status for Mac. Make sure you check it on each delivery you want notifications for. Of course, your Mac will also need to be running to send notifications. The setup is a bit complicated, but the trade off is that it’s very flexible, since there are so many Mac apps that already support Growl notifications.
I’m still working on a built-in solution for Push Notifications in Delivery Status touch, but I thought this may be of interest to some of you that can’t wait.
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