Push Notifications, Push Notifications, Push Notifications!

Now that we’ve gotten your attention, here’s an update. We are getting very close, but it’s important that you read this post carefully. Thanks so much for all of your patience thus far.

What it Takes to Have Push Notifications

From reading various Tweets and support email there seems to be an impression that enabling push notifications is a simple matter of flipping a switch. Nothing could be further from the truth. In order to be able to implement push we need access to Twitter’s Site Streaming API. Twitter considers this API to be “beta” and only allows access to 3rd parties after an approval process. We first asked for access to this API a few months ago and were finally granted access recently. This service is very resource intensive on Twitter’s Servers so we fully understand why they are slowly granting access.

The Twitter Site stream can be thought of as a big tube of data that contains all the posts, mentions, retweets, and etc. for each account in the site stream. Each message that comes in from the site stream has to be parsed, compared to the notifications a Tweetbot user wants to see, reformatted for Apple’s Push Service and then sent back out. And of course to ensure the best user experience this has to happen very very quickly.

Now imagine the above process multiplied by hundreds of thousands of accounts…and well…it gets complicated pretty quickly. Any unintended delay can cause the entire system to backup and a simple bug could cause everyone’s notifications to stop working. We have to put in a lot of effort making sure that we catch as many problems as possible before we launch and quite simply that takes time.

Now that you know what’s involved, lets talk about where we are today.

Tweetbot v1.4

We just submitted Tweetbot v1.4 to Apple today. Here is the official change list:

  • Experimental Push Notification Support
  • Ability to publish text notes with tweets
  • Selected tabs remembered when switching between accounts
  • Ability to view someone else’s lists as tweets
  • Various bug fixes

So Tweetbot Now has Push Notification Support???

Well…yes and no. Yes, Tweetbot 1.4 has push, but not everyone will have access to it as soon as we launch. We need to make sure our code will properly scale. If we let everyone access the service at once, any small problem on our part may cause the servers to crash. Also, Twitter has only approved us to monitor 10,000 accounts via their site streaming service. Their service is in beta and they need to scale properly as well. We’ll be working with them over the following weeks to increase this limit.

For launch, we are allowing around 1000 twitter accounts to access push notifications. We’ll be carefully monitoring performance and adding more users as fast as we can. To register your device for push, turn on at least one of the switches in the push notification settings. It’s all on a first-come-first-serve basis and if you have access to push and turn them all off, someone else may take your spot. We want to ensure that push works well for everyone and, while it may seem frustrating, we are working as hard as we can to make sure that everyone will eventually have access to push notifications.

If you are on the fence about purchasing Tweetbot, don’t buy it just because of push notifications. We aren’t advertising this as a feature until it’s fully working and accessible to everyone. We would like to continue to offer this service for free, however we can’t promise this until we know more about the long term costs. So for now, please remember this is a new feature, it may not fully work and you may not have access to it right away.

We will announce on Twitter as soon as Apple approves 1.4. Thanks for reading!