App.net has long been seen as nothing more than a simple Twitter clone, embraced by internet freedom fighters who despite advertisements and don’t mind a well scaling payment method to get access to their social media stream. But today, App.net is trying to separate from that image with the announcement of their newest service – App.net Broadcast, an exciting and genuinely useful reinvention of one of mobile’s most controversial, but well intended functionality – push notifications.
App.net’s goal here seems to be the complete reinvention of the push notification, making them more genuinely useful and informative while limiting their intrusiveness. Publishers will now be able to use their App.net stream to create what they’re calling Broadcast Channels, which users can subscribe to using one of App.net’s new iOS or Android applications. When a publisher chooses to push out a new notification, everyone who subscribed to the channel with the application installed will receive a notification on their phone, which when pushed will bring you over to a piece of content. That could be the title of the “story”, geographic information, an image – yes, even a GIF – and a brief description with a link to the full piece.
App.net is making you fully aware, however, that a Broadcast Channel is not an RSS feed. The way that App.net is envisioning this new service is as a way to deliver pieces of information that you’ll want to know as soon as possible. Due to the intrusiveness of a push notification – not to mention the battery life concerns – it would make no sense for a publisher to push subscribers a notification for every post on their active blog, for example. Instead publishers would want to only push featured, high value content. App.net promises that Broadcast Channels will be easy to subscribe to with badges available to implement across the web, and just as easy to unsubscribe to with just a simple tap of a button on the App.net application.
Fortunately, all of this functionality will be available starting today, totally free of charge. Though App.net isn’t discounting the thought of expanding this service with “advanced analytics and publishing tools” for those who to subscribe to a future subscription model, however the company insists that all functionality announced today will remain free.
So what do you think – will App.net Broadcast bring the floundering social network back from the edge of irrelevancy, or is it too little, too late for the would-be Twitter killer? I’m personally cautiously optimistic about the whole ordeal – unobtrusive, low volume push notifications for all sorts of information sounds like a dream come true, however its success very much depends on the sorts of information publishers choose to send over the service. Let us know what you think in the comments below!