A Tour of Push Notifications Using Textfree Unlimited

txtfreepushsquare1 150x150 A Tour of Push Notifications Using Textfree UnlimitedThe day has finally come that push notifications are available for iPhone and iPod Touch with the new firmware 3.0 update.  This capability is one that many iPhone/iPod Touch users have been anticipating for some time now.  It will enhance the usefulness and function of many apps.  One app in particular caught my interest.  So, I took a look at exactly how Textfree Unlimited will work with this new function.

The addition of push notifications to Textfree Unlimited allows you to receive a notification when you receive a text using the app.  When you open up your Textfree app, it will ask you if you want to allow push notifications (the most recent update is required).  If you tap “OK,” they should be enabled. Now, when someone texts you to your textfree.us account you will receive a notification.  This is regardless if the app is running or not or if your device is locked or not.  It works much like getting a text message on an iPhone.

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The notifications come in three different ways, the alerts or pop-up windows, sounds, and badges seen as a number in the upper corner of the app icon on your screen.  In the Settings app on your device you can choose to turn any one of these on or off at any time.

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I tested this app sending and receiving texts first with my iPod Touch on when the app was closed.  Next, I tried locking my iPod.  The push notifications still came through (very cool). [Update: Push notifications on an iPod Touch will only work when the iPod is locked if it is connected to a power source (either your PC or charger), it will not work otherwise.  Thanks to Brick for the comment.] With the new addition of push notifications, the need to pay for the ability to text is near zero.  The only limit now is the range of your Wi-Fi network.

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Testing push notifications on an iPhone was near identical to the iPod Touch tests but with two exceptions: no need to be connected via WiFi (obviously) AND push notifications work whether the iPhone is locked or not.

If you’re looking for an alternative to text messaging that AT&T’s plans, or you have an iPod Touch, the introduction of push notifications makes Textfree a whoooole lot better.

Textfree Unlimited is $5.99 in the iTunes App Store.

Textfree Unlimited is not the only app to take advantage of this new capability, though.  Other apps that make use of push notifications include AreMySitesUp (Free), Tap Tap Revenge (Free), Star Defense ($5.99), Pollen (Push) (Free), Weather Alert ($0.99), AP Mobile (Free), Leaf Trombone ($0.99), E*Trade Mobile Pro (Free), and Hey Where Are You (Free).  Many more apps are coming that will support this functionality, keep checking back for more updates.

For more OS 3.0 information check out: iPhone OS 3.0 is here. Where to Start and Changes to check out


17 Responses to “A Tour of Push Notifications Using Textfree Unlimited”
  1. Brick says:

    When the ipod is locked, WiFi is turned off automatically unless the ipod is docked or charging. As far as I can see there is no way to lock the ipod touch (when not charging) without turning off the wifi. Hence notifications sent to a locked Touch that is not plugged in will not be received until it is unlocked. I wish this wasn’t true. I’ve long been dreaming of the day when my touch will function like an iphone when connected to wifi. I hate to break your heart but your ipod must have been plugged in when you ran your test.

  2. Rob says:

    @Brick. Thanks for the excellent comment and clarification. Post has been updated.

  3. jailbreak says:

    Hey Brick, that’s not true, you can jailbreak the ipod touch and download KeepAwake in Cydia and your wifi will be on for 30 minutes after each time you unlock the ipod, not even, just go to the unlock screen since wifi automatically connects without the need for you to slide to unlock. That way, you can periodically press the sleep button about each 25 mins or so to continue running wifi, so you can continue to receive push notifications. Obviously it will eat your battery more, but I’ve been using KeepAwake for a while and my wifi is on all day almost AND I have AIM open all the time even when the ipod is asleep, so when i get a message I hear the sound because it’s still running since the wifi is still on, and my battery lasts the whole day, so with the 3.0 update you wont have to run aim in the background therefore the battery life will only be affected by the wifi and it should last muchh longer than what it does for me :D it’s worth it, it’s pretty much an iphone since you can text through aim and call people through VOIP and the ICall app, you just might have to charge your ipod a little more often but totally worth it!

  4. Rob says:

    We proved Brick’s comment above. When the iPod is locked wifi is disconnected almost immediately (at least, no notifications are received within seconds of locking).

    To anyone not familiar with jailbreaking we highly caution against it since it is completely unsupported by Apple. We’re planning a future post that will provide more information on the jailbreaking topic.

  5. jailbreak says:

    When the ipod is locked, wifi is disabled after 30 seconds.
    Apple doesn’t support jailbreaking the device because due to the fact you can get all paid apps in the Itunes store for free hence making Apple lose profit. If something happens to your ipod once it’s jailbroken you can only bring it to Apple after doing a restore on itunes to factory settings or else Apple won’t agree to fix your ipod with the warranty, it’s a way for them to try and stop people from jailbreaking ipods and iphones so they don’t lose money. I used to work at Apple, trust me.

  6. mike says:

    can someone tell me how to get the name of the person on the push notification, im only getting there numbers

  7. jailbreak says:


  8. Rob says:


    We used custom addresses for our tests provided by Pinger. Basically, you can setup a name @textfree.us. Then, in the application, you send texts to that name@textfree.us. That’s how we used it so it is showing our names and not the numbers.

  9. jon says:

    i have a 2g and bought this app but some how im not getting any of the notifications. Notifications in settings are all on but with the phone on homescreen or some app i dont get any notification nor do i if the phone is locked. oh and push is on as well. anyone have any ideas whats happening? or what to do?

  10. Rob says:


    Is that an iPhone 2G or 2ng gen iPod Touch?

    If it’s an iPod, you will not get notifications if the device is locked and not charging. If it’s an iPhone, you should get notifications at almost any time (at least, we do). Apple’s push servers were kinda flaky there for a while so that may have contributed.

  11. jailbreak says:

    You must jailbreak the ipod and install Insomnia from cydia; it maintains wifi on so you will get the push notifications anytime even when locked just like an iphone. otherwise there is no other way to make the push notifications work anytime like an iphone.

  12. Christy says:

    Hi. So i have the iphone and for some reason it only works if my wifi is on. I sort of need some help. How can i get it to work without using wifi?

  13. fernando says:

    I bought the Textfree unlimited app, but when I go in it it asks me to create a password and email, so I put mine and click ok. When I press “done” it says, “Sorry we can’t connect to the textfree servers.” Any suggestions on how to get it to work?

  14. AJ says:

    Hey what happens if somebody sends u a message to your ipod touch and ur not connected 2 wifi? Do u ever get some sort of notification when you get back in signal or something?

    Also, check out this cool site about the ipod touch! It even shows you how to get one 4 free! And its’ not a spam! :)

  15. AJ says:

    srry guys i couldn’t find the link

  16. H.A. says:

    Hey I have a second gen jail broken iPod touch and the noifications won’t work at all even when my iPod is awake. Can u guys pls help me fix this?

  17. Rob says:


    Probably not since we’re not a support forum. However, yours isn’t the first time I’ve heard push notifications that were broken on a jb device. So I’d try to restore and see if that fixes your problem. If not, take it into apple if you’re still under warranty.


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