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June 27, 2013, 1:49 p.m.
LINK: 9to5mac.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   June 27, 2013

Earlier this month, I wrote about a feature of the upcoming version of Mac OS X (“Mavericks”) that could be of interest to news sites: the ability to send push notifications to users on desktop and laptop computers. You know how CNN can send a news alert to users of the CNN iPhone app? This would enable the same sort of functionality for people who spend their day sitting at a desk, staring at a screen bigger than than their hand.

At 9to5Mac, Scott Buscemi writes about the first proof-of-concept demo of the technology. Its edge over HTML5 notifications: It works whether or not you have your web browser open; it works whether or not you have the news site open in a tab; and it lets you direct the user to a specific webpage — i.e., the breaking news story, to put it in journalism terms.

Here’s a video :

One noteworthy item: Push notifications must be set up by the user in Safari — but once they’re set up, notifications send you to your default browser (Chrome, in my case).

As I said last time, the target audience for these notifications won’t be huge: Just Mac OS X users, just those on the newest version, and just those using Safari. (Here at Nieman Lab, 33 percent of our audience is on Mac OS X; 15.5 percent of our audience is on the current version of Mac OS X; and just 5 percent is on the current version and use Safari. And I’m sure we’re higher than the typical news site on every one of those metrics.)

But push notifications for breaking news are so powerful that I hope we see at least some of the big dogs experimenting with it. Just yesterday, I would have been happy to receive a push from The New York Times about the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions; from The Boston Globe about Aaron Hernandez’ arrest; from ESPN about Roger Federer losing at Wimbledon; and from The Texas Tribune about the abortion filibuster in Austin. If we can eventually move toward a common, cross-browser, cross-platform standard, it’ll be a powerful new tool for putting news in front of users when they want it most.

(For any backend types at news orgs who’d want to play around with this, the vendor that provides your push notifications for iOS can also do this for Safari — Push IO has confirmed they’re on board. And from Apple’s technical docs, if you already roll your own iOS push, making it work in Safari shouldn’t be too difficult. Connor LaCombe, the developer who built the demo above, may put together a tutorial screencast.)

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