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 business. RIM’s BlackBerry devices focused on communications and productivity, and getting information to the user in the most efficient way possible. One way of doing this was through RIM’s Push services, which push information and updates to the device as they occur, keeping the enterprise user up to date at all times.

Push Versus Polling

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

To receive messages more frequently, you can set your email client to check for new messages every few minutes, or you can start a manual email check. Not only does it consume this time, but it also uses more battery power 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 sending information to the device. BlackBerry applications that run in the background to listen for notifications from the BlackBerry infrastructure. The content provider (in this case, an email provider) sends a notification to the BlackBerry infrastructure, which in turn sends a notification directly to the device. The BlackBerry receives notifications much faster and saves power because it is not actively looking for information from the service provider.

Push notifications for all apps

RIM recently opened up Push Service to all developers, so now you can get notifications from Twitter, weather apps, instant messaging apps, and even Facebook. Push Services are now available to consumers and business users, so all BlackBerry users benefit from receiving updates as they happen from virtually any application.