Page 2 - By Any Other Name
But it’s something of a misnomer to reduce Apple's solution to "browser push" or even "desktop push." In point of fact, Apple gifted the Web with OS X push because the Notification Center is built into the Finder, not the browser. Put differently, it’s not necessary that Safari be active for a notification to be received. When a message is clicked, the browser opens and the URL associated with the notification instigates a new tab.
This is in stark contrast to earlier browser push technologies, like WebSockets, which require that the tab for a website remain open for the communication channel to persist. And although similar in appearance to Growl Notifications, Apple’s Web push does not require the installation of any software by the user - a critical advantage so far as user adoption is concerned.
Chrome and Firefox, are taking a more straightforward approach, and will require the browser to be open to function. To be honest, though, this is not much of an ask. Users often keep their browser of choice open all the time with dozens of tabs and a handful of windows active.
Challenges for Non-Engineers
Apple's Web push is problematic insofar as it’s difficult to integrate. The first hurdle is a $99/year Apple Developer Account, and the actual implementation can be described as labyrinthine. Even a seasoned developer familiar with all the moving parts will need a couple of weeks to get the most basic pieces working.
That's my company, by the way. I'm one of three cofounders, and our focus is helping sites like TMO implement Apple's desktop push notifications.
Chrome and Firefox look to be somewhat easier to integrate, but supporting all simultaneously will probably push websites to third party solutions to get everything in one package with a bow on top.
Pushing the Envelope Further
At WWDC in June, we saw Apple continuing innovation in the notification space, both on mobile and desktop. The Notification Center got significant development attention in OS X (Yosemite). The Today feature integrates with other parts of the OS. Widgets can be added as well, allowing user customization. Both of these features make the Notification Center more central to the Apple experience. All of these things build on apple Web push experience for desktop.
Today in OS X Yosemite
On the mobile side of the equation, iOS 8 notifications got a lot of love from Apple’s development team, but they did not extend this love to mobile Safari. Web push is not present in the latest builds of iOS 8, and is not mentioned in the surrounding documentation.
And it looks like Chrome and Firefox will one-up Apple in this respect . Both plan to support Web push for mobile browsers - and in the very immediate future. The word on the street is that Chrome push notifications have a mobile release concurrent with the desktop solution.
Who Will Win the War?
Despite the competitive landscape of Web push, Apple is well-positioned to continue to lead the space. Much will depend on how quickly Apple supports push within its mobile browser. If Apple lets Google and Mozilla race ahead as the line between mobile and desktop blurs, then the company may find itself following, instead of leading. And this is all happening before the battle for Web push on desktop has even truly begun.