by Al Sacco

BlackBerry Developers Get New BlackBerry Push Service for Instant App Updates

Mar 17, 2010
MobileSmall and Medium Business

BlackBerry developers today got a new tool from RIM to help them boost their applications with near-instant content updates.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) today announced a new service for all BlackBerry software developers, called the “BlackBerry Push Service,” to help enable rapid delivery of application-content to BlackBerry smartphones.

graphic on How the BlackBerry Push Service Works
How the BlackBerry Push Service Works

In other words, makers of Java apps and Web widgets for BlackBerry will be able to use the BlackBerry Push Service to “push” news, sports, stocks and other content updates to users’ devices in real-time as they become available.

Push applications aren’t new to BlackBerry. But access to the required BlackBerry APIs and other resources was costly in the past and the necessary fees were prohibitive to many application developers. The new BlackBerry Push Service is available in two “flavors:” a free “BlackBerry Push Essentials” option; and “BlackBerry Push Plus,” which is available in both free and commercial (“paid”) versions—developers will have to dish out some cash if applications require more than 100,000 “pushes” per day.

In addition to the push capabilities, the paid service, which is available in multiple tiers, also has notifications for developers to let them know when pushed content is delivered via their apps, with exact times and device data. And devs using BlackBerry Push Service Plus can also choose to modify push time-settings and/or cancel queued push requests before they’re delivered to users’ handhelds, if necessary.

From RIM:

“The BlackBerry Push Service enables developers to easily develop Java applications or web widgets that leverage RIM’s push technology either through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (for enterprises) or BlackBerry Internet Service infrastructure (for consumers), so that content providers can reliably push images, text, or audio content to millions of BlackBerry devices at once. Unlike alternative push solutions that can only notify users that new content is available for download because of push message size limitations, with the BlackBerry Push Service, full content (up to an industry-leading 8KB in size) is pushed to the device and made immediately available for use.”

So while additional push services are available to mobile developers, RIM claims its new service offers the highest “content-cap” for pushed updates. And RIM also says the new service lets apps continuously “listen” for content updates, instead of having to initiate what can be lengthy processes via comparable mobile app push services.

“BlackBerry Push Service does not send notifications that tell you to go get information, it brings you the information,” according to a post on RIM’s website.

The service is already in use by popular application-makers, including Time, Sports Illustrated, The Hockey News, and Weather Bug, according to RIM.

Developers who want to employ the service will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Applications must provide a one-time message to indicate push usage to the user
  • Software must indicate higher data pricing when roaming and that users should check with their carrier for data pricing
  • Apps must allow users to switch pushes on or off
  • Users must be able to remove the app and/or change BlackBerry smartphones

The announcement is good news for both BlackBerry developers, who will now have more control over how app-content is delivered to customers, and BlackBerry users, who should see more robust applications as a result.

It’s free for to register and evaluate BlackBerry Push Service, so there’s no risk for developers interested in a preview. (Note: Developers with applications that use the BlackBerry Enterprise Server [BES] exclusively for push, don’t need to register.)

And additional information, along with associated resources and tools, can be located on RIM’s website and on the BlackBerry Push Service Development SDK Guide page.