What are Push Notifications on a BlackBerry

When the smartphone market was in its infancy, RIM set itself apart from its competitors by creating devices for the enterprise. RIM's BlackBerry devices were focused on communications and productivity, and getting information to the user as efficiently as possible. One way they did this was through RIM's Push Services, which send information and updates to the device as they happen, keeping the enterprise user up-to-date at all times.

Push Versus Polling

The average smartphone email application needs to connect to an email server, authenticate, and then download any new messages. Most clients check the server for new messages at regular intervals, which is called polling. This method of retrieving messages is inefficient because the new messages are not available on the device immediately.

To get messages more frequently, you can configure the email client to check for new messages every few minutes, or you can initiate a manual email check. Not only is this time consuming, but it also consumes more battery life on your device, and many email servers have restrictions on how often you can check email.

RIM's Push Service is different because the BlackBerry Infrastructure does the work of pushing information to the device. BlackBerry applications that are push-enabled run in the background listening for notifications from the BlackBerry Infrastructure. The content provider (in this case an email provider) sends a notification to the BlackBerry Infrastructure, which then pushes a notification directly to the device. The BlackBerry gets notifications much faster and saves power because it is not actively seeking information from the service provider.

Push Notifications For All Applications

Recently RIM opened the Push Service up to all developers, so now you can get notifications from Twitter, weather applications, instant messenger applications, and even Facebook. Now Push Services are available for consumers and enterprise users, so all BlackBerry users get the benefit of receiving updates as they happen from virtually any application.