Push notifications have almost completely replaced text messaging and email notifications for me. I used to love text message reminders, but now I get annoyed that I cannot take action on those items. For example, I get a message from twitter, the most I can do is click a link. When I get a push notification from twitter I can read it, then dismiss, or I can touch it, get the full twitter app experience and find out more about that particular tweet, user, hashtags or people mentioned. This gives me a lot of power that a simple text message cannot.

Bank of America recently released an update to their Android app that allows replacing the standard email and text message notifications with push notifications. This is great news since I can change the frequency and/or conditions of the notification without having to load up their site in a full desktop browser. They’ve even introduced their new BankAmeriDeals (or whatever it is called) so that I can receive push notifications with opportunities to save money. This last feature may get obnoxious after a few days, so we’ll see how long I keep it on.

Alarm.com is another example of a company using the full-features of a smartphone to benefit their customers. I have an alarm system that allows me to arm/disarm and change the thermostat in my house while I am away from it. They recently introduced a feature that allows me to set a notification at a certain time at night to remind me to arm my house, this is great as I  often forget to arm the house (which completely defeats the purpose of the system). Another great feature is geofencing, I have the app setup to notify me when I get outside a certain radius from my house, to remind me to arm the house. This even works with 2 phones, you can set the trigger to only notify you if BOTH phones are a certain distance from the house, it won’t bother either if one of us is still home. This is one of the coolest features to me, using my phone’s built-in hardware to help make my life better, easier, safer, etc.

Slice can be setup to scan your email and pick out purchases. This allows the app to notify you when your packages are being shipped, in transit or when they have been delivered. I have been surprised by this app many times when I didn’t hear a delivery truck or see anything in my mailbox. The first time this happened, I had forgotten about ordering anything, I got a push notification that there was a package on my doorstep, I looked at the message with a puzzled look, walked to my door and there WAS a package waiting for me. Awesome!

Another great advantage to push over text messaging is that I am not limited to a single device. I carry 2 phones around one for work (iPhone 4), one personal (T-Mobile G2). As a result I have a lot of application overlap, this is on purpose, since if one phone is dead, or out of service, I can pick up the other and continue my conversation (Facebook/Google+ Messaging). I normally have notifications for personal things (Facebook/Twitter/etc) turned off on my work phone, so that I don’t get a crazy amount of buzzing in my pocket when both phones go off simultaneously, though it is incredibly cool to get notifications in realtime on both devices.

I wish the Mint.com app would implement push notifications, I despise getting their email notifications now that I have tasted the goodness that is push. One disadvantage to push messages/notifications, I can’t go back and search through them, such as with email notifications, granted, I usually delete most notifications anyway, this is a minor issue.

I am glad that application developers and the services world as a whole has noticed the advantage to push notifications. I do wish there was a backup method such as text, for those rare times when I am in an area of poor coverage and limited or no internet. At the same time, it’s okay to be off the grid for a while.</b>