Notifications Scripting is a GUI-less application that can be only used with AppleScript. This application allows AppleScript scripts to display user notifications in OS X Mountain Lion and handle the user interactions with these notifications.
The best part of Notifications Scripting is its dictionary. It contains definitions for the notification messages of course, but also for notifications that have been delivered and activated. In the code sample provided by the developers, a dialog is displayed in the Finder following a user notification. You can imagine how this tool could be integrated with scripts that prompt users for input or allow for multiple choices from a set of actions.
Previously announced by its developers, a major update to Growl — a third-party notification system for OS X — has been released today with official Notification Center integration. Among various bug fixes, improvements to the display of some built-in themes, and separation of Action displays from Visual ones, Growl 2.0 also brings Prowl and Boxcar support.
The biggest news in this update is support for Notification Center on Mountain Lion. How it works is rather straightforward, too. If users decide they want to keep using Growl while consolidating the Visual displays in Apple’s Notification Center, they can open Growl’s Preferences, and set “OS X Notifications” to “On” under General. This will add Growl to the apps listed under Notifications in System Preferences, and it’ll effectively use Growl as a bridge between third-party apps and Notification Center.
In my tests, it worked reliably: as soon as an app with Growl support triggered a notification, that was forwarded to Notification Center immediately. The obvious downside is that, because of Apple’s restrictions, Growl won’t be able to apply its custom themes to Notification Center, or use third-party app icons for banners. So every Growl notification will carry Growl’s icon, not the one from the third-party app that triggered the original notification.
Update: For apps to show their own icons, they will need to support the Growl 2.0 SDK.
Another important addition to Growl 2.0 is the separate handling of Visual and Action displays. For instance, you can set, say, Dropbox to trigger a Smoke display (or Notification Center banner) and the MailMe or Prowl action at the same time. This is a powerful new feature that should allow for deeper customization of Growl notifications, which are handled on an app-by-app basis in Growl’s Applications tab.
Notifications have been a part of iOS from day one, and last year’s iOS 5 update improved them greatly with Notification Center and the new banner style (the one that rolls down from the top of the screen without disrupting your current activity). They are an integral part of our interactions with our iPhones and iPads — we get them from missed calls, text messages, emails, reminders, social network interactions, apps, games, and so on. But on the Mac, notifications have been more of a hack than a system-level feature: something that developers have implemented themselves, and mostly just when they felt it was absolutely necessary to do so. As a result, they haven’t been nearly as much a part of the OS X experience as they have on iOS.
The most widely-used system for notifications on OS X until now has been Growl: a third-party app that allowed developers to easily implement their own notifications. It was widely adopted by the OS X developer community, and over the years it became an essential install for many Mac users. But Growl isn’t the best solution for notifications because it is still a third party app that the user must go out of their way to install. Whilst this isn’t a problem for an experienced computer user, it is for those that don’t want or need to worry about finding a download link for a third-party notification solution or keeping it up to date (though admittedly this has become less of a problem with Growl’s release on the Mac App Store). And of course Apple itself would never use Growl for notifications for their own apps, some of which could benefit most from notifications (e.g. Mail, Messages, and FaceTime).
Fortunately, in OS X Mountain Lion Apple has now implemented native notifications and Notification Center. If you’ve ever used iOS 5 you’ll instantly be familiar with how they work because Apple has effectively recreated them for the Mac, only making a few changes to suit the different platform. All of Apple’s built-in OS X applications support the new notifications (Messages, Mail, Reminders, Mac App Store, FaceTime, etc) and there is an API for developers to add support for them to their own as well.
Developers of Growl, the popular third-party notification app for OS X that received a major update with version 1.3, announced today their plans to embrace Apple’s Notification Center on Mountain Lion, and allow developers an easy integration with the Mac’s upcoming native notification system.
With a blog post published earlier today, lead developer Chris Forsythe laid out plans for a future version 2.0 of the app:
For Growl 2 we’re simply going to add a Notification Center action display as well. This is going to make it easy for anyone who wants to see notifications in Growl, and also in Notifcation Center. We don’t know of any downside to doing this, and see it as sort of a simple yet powerful way to get what you want done. There may be some caveates to doing this that we can talk about once 10.8 is out, but there may not be. We’ll all just find out together.
This will be achieved with a new architecture that will enable Growl to handle visual notifications and actions separately:
Also, for Growl 2, we’ve done some really neat things. One of the really neat things that we’ve done is split the action and visual notifications, so that both could fire at the same time.
Let me give you an example of how this would work. You could have a Smoke display, and the MailMe action fire from the same notification if you wanted. This is great and makes things really powerful.
As we’ve already written, the introduction of Notification Center won’t necessarily “sherlock” Growl as a notification alternative for Mac users and developers. While Notification Center will undoubtedly provide an excellent native solution for developers of Mac App Store apps — ultimately serving the average user with a notification system that works out of the box, — Growl will still remain a capable third-party app that offers fine grained controls over notifications with several customization options.
Furthermore, because Notification Center will only work with Mac App Store apps but Mountain Lion will still support external software through Gatekeeper for enhanced security, Growl will also be a fantastic way for developers of apps sold outside of the Mac App Store to enable desktop notifications in their software.
While you might not be able to replace Siri’s voice with GLaDOS (yet), you do have control over how your iPhone notifies you of incoming calls and messages. New to iOS 5, the iTunes Store includes a special tones store where you can purchase new tones starting at $0.99 for alerts, and $1.29 for popular ringtones. The tones available feature everything from Star Wars sound effects to your favorite music from the 90s.
Notification Center is one of the key features of iOS 5, one that will profoundly change the way iPhone and iPad users approach the incoming stream of data and notifications on mobile devices. There is no doubt Notification Center is among the most anticipated new functionalities to land on iOS, but before we delve deeper into its advantages over the old notification system of iOS 4.x and its (very few) shortcomings, here’s a bit of background history that should better put Notification Center into context.
Looking at Notification Center now — and playing with it for at least a day — it’s clear the system is indisputably better than what we used to have on our devices in the pre-iOS 5 era. Criticized both by the tech press and average users alike, the old notifications had, really, one main problem: they became annoying with time. And by “became” I mean that they began to show their utter nature of a system built for non-connected applications as soon as the App Store turned into a platform for the always-on individual who’s constantly connected, even when he plays Angry Birds or is eating a new meal at a restaurant a friend suggested.
The old notifications were built for a different set of apps. (more…)
As discovered by a 9to5 Mac reader, iOS 5 contains a new ‘Quake Alert’ notification option to warn Japanese users of an expected earthquake. This new notification option simply hooks into the Japanese earthquake warning system and does a similar job to what some apps on the App Store already do, just on a simpler level that doesn’t require a third party app.
As this year’s devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan tragically showed, such early warning systems are extremely important in getting just a little bit of time to prepare. Since the earthquake this year, Time has published an article that detailed the Japanese earthquake warning system:
Japan has the most advanced earthquake early-warning system in the world. A nationwide online system launched in 2007, it detects tremors, calculates an earthquake’s epicenter and sends out brief warnings from its 1,000-plus seismographs scattered throughout the country, one of the most earthquake-prone nations on the planet.
As MacRumors points out, this early warning system notification for the iPhone won’t be the first time the system has been integrated into a Japanese smartphone, with quite a number already featuring the system. Japanese users will be able to turn the ‘Quake Alert’ notification on and off from the Notification Center settings pane – although there is a warning that receiving quake alerts may impact on battery life (due to the connection to the early warning system.
With the release of redsn0w and the first unofficial widget for iOS 5 over the weekend, we noted how developing widgets for the new Notification Center could open a big new opportunity for developers willing to invest on features not implemented by Apple — e.g. widgets in iOS 5 are limited to the iPhone and the Stocks and Weather applications. We first detailed UISettings on Saturday, a widget that, similarly to toggles for popular iOS 4 tweak SBSettings, allows users to quickly activate iPhone hardware functionalities like WiFi, Bluetooth and Brightness.
Since the release of UISettings, several developers have started playing around with the concept of widgets in Notification Center. Besides some obvious updates to UISettings that brought an improved design and stability, others have released new tweaks to enable new functions in the area otherwise reserved to notifications. Spring Prefs, for example, is an upcoming widget by @GreySyntax that will put system information in the Notification Center. Available RAM, firmware version, IP and uptime — they all can be viewed right under the status bar of iOS 5 with a pulldown gesture. In the same sneak peek, you can also see a custom Notification Center theme that gets rid of Apple’s much criticized linen background for a more elegant transparent effect and minimal layout. (more…)