Version Reviewed: 2.1
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Push notifications are lovely things; I just wished that all of the services I used supported them! Enter Boxcar: a so-called "Free+" app and one of the best Push notification solutions for Facebook, Twitter, and email. It's by far the simplest, most intuitive notification app I've used so far, and the fact that you get one service for free makes it a steal.
Boxcar offers a number of services: Facebook notifications, email alerts, or Twitter alerts. I'm going to go through a brief explanation of how each service works:
This is what I use Boxcar primarily for, since I'm not too active on Twitter. Facebook Connect logs you into your account, and then you're set; all of your notifications get pushed without any problems at all. I love this for a somewhat silly reason: my Scrabble games. Finally, I don't have to keep re-opening apps to check and see if it's my turn to move!
Note that Push notifications are supposedly coming in the next official version of the Facebook app, so this function may become obsolete. For now, however, Boxcar delivers a much-needed service that the official app can't match.
Boxcar's method of email notifications is somewhat unique, and it's very different from how applications like GPush handle things. You're given a Boxcar email address, and then you have to set up email forwarding to that address. In gmail, this is a cinch to do, but I'm not sure about other email clients. Either way, it's well worth the effort. Boxcar says that they don't store the emails, and with this method, you never have to reveal your password.
Boxcar has quite a few delectable options for Twitter users. Not only can you get @replies and DMs pushed to your iPhone, but you can also get you're whole timeline pushed out. Now, I wouldn't recommend this if you're following more than a handful of people, but it's a nice option. (And, thankfully, it is optional.) The best part, however, is that Boxcar will connect with your Twitter client, and you can chose to automatically open that app instead of Boxcar when you get a new notification. (Popular ones on the list: Tweetie 2, Twitteriffic, and Echofon.)
Okay, so there's the functionality of Boxcar in a nutshell. The real joy, however, is found in the execution. Notifications are sent relatively quickly; my Facebook ones are nearly instant. Then there are the levels of customization: choosing different sounds per service, setting how to open each push notification (Facebook mobile? Gmail.com? Boxcar?), and being able to turn certain portions of each service or off at the flick of a switch. There are many other great features: the way that new notifications are stored within the app itself, for example, and the option to have generic, "private" alerts that simply read, "You have a new message on Twitter!"
There are some features I'd like to see: the ability to set a "quiet time" when notifications aren't sent or a giant "silence switch" would be fantastic. But all told, Boxcar pulls of everything with flair and ease. The interface is slick, the services work wonderfully, and I love getting my notifications. And then there's the fact that it's free—well, for the first service, anyway. You'll have to pay $0.99 for extra ones. But honestly, Boxcar is by far the best Push notification app I've used, and it just works.
So. Go on. Download it already!