Despite iPhone 3.0’s push notifications and previously mentioned Google Sync‘s contacts and calendars syncing chops, push Gmail still hasn’t come to the iPhone. But with the Prowl iPhone application, you can now push Gmail notifications—and then some—to your iPhone.
What Prowl Does
The $US3 Prowl iPhone application [iTunes App Store Link]works in conjunction with Growl, the universal notification application for Macs, to push desktop notifications to your iPhone. (The current release of Prowl in the App Store doesn’t yet support Growl for Windows, but the latest unreleased version already does—meaning Windows users should be able to do this once Prowl updates.)
How It Works
NOTE: What you’ll get after following these instructions isn’t true push email, but it’s a pretty solid approximation. In fact, in order for it to work consistently, you’ll need to have an always-on computer to push your Growl notifications to your iPhone. But until something better comes along, it’s a pretty strong alternative.
Set Up Prowl with Growl
Next, head over to the Prowl web site and register for an account (Prowl doesn’t even require an email address). Once registered, download the Prowl plug-in for Growl, unzip it, and double-click the Prowl.growlView file to install the Prowl plug-in to Growl.
When you set Prowl as your display notification type, you still get to choose what your Growl notifications will look like—you just do so through this Prowl display options menu. Make sure you’ve ticked the checkbox labelled Display notifications using style, then select the style you prefer (I’m a smoke person). You can also adjust what kind of Growl notifications Prowl will forward and when—for example, I’ve set Growl to only send notifications to Prowl when the priority is at least High, and I only send notifications when my computer has been idle for more than 5 minutes (presumably you don’t need push notifications if you’re already sitting at your computer).
Set Up Gmail Notifier with Growl and Prowl
Keep in mind that you need to keep Google+Growl running in the background for the whole system to work, too. It all sounds fairly convoluted for something that should be so simple, but once you’ve got it set up, you shouldn’t have to do any fiddling after that
A year or so ago I was using a third-party background app (required jailbreak) called iMapIDLE that simulated push for Gmail, and while it looks like something similar is undergoing review for the App Store, the Prowl approach seems like another very solid one. It doesn’t require you to hand over any usernames or passwords to a third party, since the notifications are all coming from your computer, and it can work with all sorts of notifications that Growl already supports (imagine getting a notification that your BitTorrent client just finished downloading that movie while you’re picking up dinner, for example).
As I said above, Windows support for using Prowl in conjunction with Growl for Windows isn’t quite there, but it should be very soon, making this a pretty solid solution for rolling notifications for just about anything from your desktop—and that, we like very much.
Got something clever you’d like to use Prowl for aside from Gmail push notifications? Have another, better method you’re already using? Let’s hear it in the comments.