One of the amazing features of the IOS operating system is the ability to receive notifications of new events right on the home screen of your chosen device. Apple calls these handy little message notifiers “push” notifications. Push is native to many apps these days, since such a handy feature is bound to increase marketability, but not everyone is happy with the basic system. Along come new apps, specifically designed to enhance the “push” experience with more services, more accounts, and customizable settings.
Some are paid apps, like Push 4.0. This is fine. The basic app is only ninety nine cents, and in app purchases of more features, each about a dollar, are available. What about people who don’t want to pay even a dollar to enjoy enhanced push, though? Boxcar is your answer. Boasting fifteen available services to push, customizable sounds for each service, multiple e-mail and twitter accounts, and, for the light sleepers among us, a quiet time feature with selectable times, boxcar is no pushover when it comes to push. The best part is, it’s free! There are adds, but they are very unobtrusive, and you can disable them for a five dollar in app purchase if they are too bothersome.
How It Works
Thankfully for the growing population of visually impaired apple users, this app is completely voiceover compliant. I as a completely blind user, had no trouble at all with any aspect of the interface.
The first time the app is opened on a particular device, a sign up screen appears, asking the user to either “sign in” or “sign up.” There are both labeled buttons, and button labels on the screen. Voiceover recognizes and reads both of these, so don’t be alarmed if each option seems to appear twice. As a new user of the app, tap “sign up.”
This leads to a services screen on which “add a service,” “device settings,” and all available and added accounts are displayed. Select “add a service.”
A new screen appears, showing all available services. Just tap one to go to the setup page. For this review, I chose to register for Facebook, one of the easier services.
Tap Facebook to go to its setup page. You should see or hear the “cancel” button first of all. Below that is a heading with the service name and the save button. Below that are sign in and settings options including, “sign in to Facebook,” “Message Settings,” “Instructions and Help,” and several others. select “Sign in to Facebook” to get started.
You should see a log in screen. Type in your phone or e-mail, and password, then tap “Go” on the keyboard.
If everything has gone as it should, you’re now asked to allow or deny the app. Tap “Allow” to allow the app to give you notifications of messages, comments on your status, and other things.
From here you can customize your sounds by tapping “Sound.” Switch the switch buttons to have boxcar notify you of facebook mail, messages, and if you would like the app to display an update badge.
Tap “Instructions and Help” if you need setup instructions for any service. They’re very clear and helpful.
Finally, to save your settings and account log ins, tap “Save” at the top of the screen. You might see an add. Just tap the “Back to Home Screen” button to return to the services screen where you can add another service or account, view all your messages, or change your device settings. Incidentally, “Device Settings” is where the quiet time feature is located.
Twitter is just as easy to add as Facebook, and the trends and searches services are even easier if you add twitter first. E-mail, however, is a bit trickier. Definitely read the help on this one. Depending on your e-mail client, you might have as many as three steps to go through both on your device and your computer. Gmail proved the trickiest, with google asking to verify the custom forwarding address Boxcar assigns to each e-mail account. Boxcar only keeps the from and subject information of an e-mail, not the actual message, so be sure to check your inbox for the full messages when you get a chance.
This app is well worth a look, especially if you haven’t paid for one yet. Instructions are clear and concise for those of us who enjoy simplicity in our technology. For the less visually inclined, voiceover works flawlessly with this app. Actually, the developer could probably afford to remove the text labels beside the buttons on the new user screen if the buttons themselves have icons. Voiceover speaks them just fine. Be sure to read the instructions if you aren’t sure of what to do, and this app will be your new best friend.