Mavericks Feature Highlight: Safari Push Notifications

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Date: Wednesday, November 6th, 2013, 08:38
Category: Features, Mac, Mavericks, Software, Websites

mavericks_preview_web_notificationsWe all know about Notification Center in OS X, one of the many iOS like features that has crossed over to the desktop, but what are Safari Push Notifications? While it was mentioned in the Mavericks keynote, it hasn’t received too much fanfare or attention, probably because hardly anybody is using it yet, and by “anybody” I mean web sites. If you’ve been utilizing notifications on the Mac, this new addition won’t seem too radical, but if you’re like me, it may make Notification Center more useful. Since it’s introduction with the Mountain Lion flavor of OS X, Notification Center has been providing an overview of alerts from applications, much like the iOS version, and virtually eliminating the usefulness of the popular Growl application which has been providing this function on the Mac for years*. The difference with Safari’s new notifications is that they are actually coming from the web sites you browse. If a web site supports push notifications, and you have allowed the site (via dialog window) to send them to you, you can get real-time updates to changes on the sites. I think of it as being like a news aggregator, but with the news items trickling in as they are posted rather than looking at a huge list of posts in my news reader. If I happen to see something that looks interesting, I can just open the Notification Center panel, click on the notification, and then it opens in Safari straight to the article. This also allows me to open the panel occasionally and see a short list of items that came in while I was away from my computer. For me, that’s awesome, because frankly I get pretty overwhelmed when I open a news reader, feeling I need to skim through everything I’ve missed. Safari’s notifications sort of feed me the highlights of the news day, and that’s generally enough for me. One downside is that it seems as though notifications only come through if Safari is open along with open pages from the sites you want notifications from. Apple’s own description says this is not the case, but that is how it has been working for me so far.

So, what’s the problem here, you ask? Well, as I mentioned before, not many web sites have implemented the feature. In fact, I could only find about five sites that had:

  1. MacRumors
  2. The New York Times
  3. Pinterest
  4. NBA.com
  5. MLB.com

Ironically, CNN, which was used as an example during the launch keynote, doesn’t appear to be completely on-board yet, or else they yanked the function out at some point. I went to several pages in their site and was never prompted to allow notifications. As a result, this feature isn’t very useful until more sites get their butts into gear. I figured more of the bigger Mac sites, like MacWorld, would have in implemented, but looks like MacRumors is ahead of the pack on this one. TOMORROW, I’ll be writing about a cool service that can help you take advantage of Safari’s notifications until more sites are set up. Stay tuned for that, and if you find any other sites that are using push notifications, send us an email or mention it a comment below.

*In fact, Growl is still very useful along-side of Notification Center and is very customizable. I still run it for some apps where I don’t want the notification to go away until I click on it. Even though it’s not a free app anymore, it’s still cheap and there are a ton of apps that support it. Look for it in the AppStore.

 

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