It has been a bumpy road for Boxcar during the past 12 months. We know it has been frustrating for the amazing user base that Boxcar have been serving during the past years.
Boxcar short history
Boxcar started as the first push notification service for the end user. Apple launched iOS push notifications in 2008. Boxcar launched soon after in early 2009. Boxcar 2.0 launched on 27 august 2009, almost 4 years from now. Users loved it and it had been an instant hit: Boxcar 2.0 Is A Must-Have For the iPhone. It’s The Best Push Notification App Yet.
And in a sense the service has suffered from its own success. Keeping such a large scale service while adding new features is hard and a few years later Boxcar experienced serious reliability problems, despite new funding.
After more than a year of frustration for its users, we are now at a turning point.
Early this year, ProcessOne, a real time expert, looked at Boxcar potential. We asked ourselves: what is the core value of Boxcar and do we think we could revive it ? We looked at the amazing users that were still fans of Boxcar and decided this could be done.
Yet, the task was (and is) gigantic. First we needed to review a large aging codebase on both the server and iOS.
We then had to decide what to with it: Should we incrementally improve it to add reliability and scalability or should we play it differently ?
A few parameters were taken into account for our decision:
Scalability and reliability need to be designed from the ground up.
The needs from the user right now are very different from the need of the users in 2009. Twitter and Facebook now support push notifications.
iOS itself has changed dramatically since 2009. Boxcar had been developed for iOS 2.0.
So, we decided that we need a large deep work to make Boxcar push inbox state of the art.
Boxcar is as of today a state of the art service for developers
We know that reliability of a real time push service comes as the number one feature. It should be taken for granted. So, during the past month we have been gathering ProcessOne technologies to build a scalable and rock solid push service for iOS and Android developers. It send notifications in a very flexible way and is already in production for selected customers. We already handle millions of devices and millions of push notification per day with it, with a 100% uptime.
This is going to be the core of the reworked Boxcar platform. By itself, it should hopefully bring hope to the fellow Boxcar users.
We are making this platform available to a larger developers base. If you have a push project and would like to start using it right now, please, drop me a mail (mremond AT boxcar DOT io) with a description of your project. If it is exciting, you can join our pool of select companies that have access to it and build great apps and reliable services.
Boxcar iOS push inbox
We know that this robust and exceptionally fast push backend is not enough for you all users.
We had started working on refreshing Boxcar iOS application. However, in last june something changed our plan. Apple announced iOS 7. And suddenly that plan was not making any sense anymore. Changes introduced by iOS 7 are so dramatic, that most app have to be rewritten from scratch. This is the case for Boxcar even more than other, as design and code base are very far from iOS 7 ideal target.
So, we decided to drop our current work and start working on a new version of Boxcar iOS client, for iOS 7 only. We want to use the new iOS 7 features and would like the users to enjoy a revamped experience. The push experience will not be a port of Boxcar 2009 experience but a brand new one. We are targeting a release for Q4 2013, but we will keep you posted of our progress in the meantime.
Again, reliability will be key and we want to focus on fewer things, but do them well. At this stage, we know that News / RSS realtime notification will be at the heart of the platform. We are also considering other services like Twitter, custom notifications, Mail, Facebook, … But whether they can make it into the New Boxcar is not yet decided … and it depends on your feedback.
Of course, we will keep on maintaining the existing Boxcar service while the transition is complete and new service is ready and operating at full speed. Both old Boxcar and new version will probably even live together during a few months.
2013 is a year of huge work and efforts being put on Boxcar. That’We know some of you have been using Boxcar since the beginning and we know the service is important for you. Bare with us, talk to us, send us your kind words and feedback. This is a long journey but I trust you will be glad to have shared that road with us.
— Mickaël Rémond