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There was a great deal of curiosity and anxiety in the upcoming days to the release of NotifyMe. It would be one of the maiden voyage applications to embark on the road of push notifications, through APNS - Apple's Push Notification Service. In essence, this is a substitute for background applications - where information is "pushed" to your phone through external servers and ready for you to take action. We've already seen its power with applications such as BeejiveIM (instant messaging) and AP Mobile (latest news). Whilst push was creased to begin with, everything seems to be ironed out and what has been left is something that the iPhone begs to take advantage of (and what sets it above the competition).
PoweryBase was quick to action, and NotifyMe was duly released onto the App Store on 17 June 2009. This seemingly simple application has progressed rapidly to number six in the top paid productivity - not bad for an app less than a month old. Its hype is justified - this application is one that every iPhone and iPod Touch user should consider installing.
So, what is it exactly? NotifyMe is an application that lets users create reminders, alerts and to-do events - and once they're in you can forget about them (APNS and PoweryBase servers take care of the rest). Be it recurring or once-off, a to-do or a TV show, you won't forget it. Your data is safe in the hands of PoweryBase and Apple. There are seven main categories for your notification, covering a wide range of activities. These are: ToDo; Personal; Work; School; Birthday; TV Show; and Shopping.
Even in the event of the NotifyMe being uninstalled - your reminders are safe. Upon opening the app for the first time, there is a "create user account" page - this is where all of your data is stored. By signing in to your account, all your information is there. No hassle. Creating a reminder is also hassle-free, as NotifyMe have taken on an Apple-style approach - there's nothing to distract you, and nothing to get in your way of creating a reminder quickly and efficiently. Just enter in its title, choose the category (of which ToDo is the default) and state whether or not it is a recurring event. You can be in and out of the application within 20 seconds, and that's including start-up time on an iPhone 3G. This is a tap-and-forget app.
If you do keep the application open - you have four further options. Firstly, one can view upcoming reminders (which can be edited); secondly, passed reminders (those which have already happened); thirdly, an overview of all categories (a counter which shows how many reminders are in each); and lastly a settings menu filled with a vast array of options and even the ability to see if the PoweryBase servers are online.
The real piece-de-resistance of NotifyMe is time zone change support. As PoweryBase state themselves, "Fly from San Francisco to New York, set your new time zone in iPhone Settings and add your reminder in NotifyMe. The reminder is pushed to you according to NY time!" This is rejoicing news for frequent flyers who find themselves crossing time zones more often than not, as it means your reminders will not end up clashing - or worse - being entered in the wrong time zone.
There is one major competitor - and you'll already have the application on your iPhone. Calendar. You can create alerts within calendar and have the iPhone message you at a specified time before the event is due to take place. Whilst this will always be something that I'll use for events, birthdays and meetings - calendar is not something that I'd like to have shrouded with TV shows and the like. It's here that NotifyMe comes in to play - it handles it all, and leaves me in both the knowledge that I won't forget about the event; and also that my calendar remains clean and crisp for events that I may have to go out of my way to do.
[caption id="attachment_14146" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="No excuse to forget!"]
[/caption]Paradoxically, APNS is both this application's greatest asset and liability. iPod Touch users do not receive updates in the same way that iPhone users do. To conserve battery, Apple has configured the iPod Touch to only check for updates at most once every 15 minutes when the phone's screen is off / locked. And you'll need to be in a Wi-Fi network too. This is by no means NotifyMe's fault - but it hinders iPod Touch users and there's nothing NotifyMe can do about it.
PoweryBase have clearly invested time and money into allowing each user to create their own account. With this, I'd love to see the ability to check your reminders and events from the web - and possibly update them too. Whilst PoweryBase have stated that they do not envisage NotifyMe to be a direct competitor to other To-Do events applications, this is a feature that I know would be put to good use. Among other things, the ability to create custom categories and custom event-recurrences would be a well received update. Thankfully - these are relatively easy features that can be implemented subtly. However, this app's unique selling point is its minimalism - and nothing should be put forward at the expense of it.
With a minimalist approach, NotifyMe integrates excellently into the iPhone. It's an application that every iPhone and iPod Touch user should consider installing. And if you're a little hesitant, there's a free lite version too.