If you’ve been a victim of the Facebook iPhone app’s missing push notifications, random app crashes, cryptic failures to refresh data and other annoyances, you may be looking at the right place. The tip that I describe today is neither wizardry nor the best solution – but it works around a big annoyance for me: the iPhone/iOS Facebook app. Yup, that’s right. I’m quite sure Facebook can do much better with the official app, but until they actually do, here’s a quick workaround.
Missing Facebook push notifications
Before I get into the solution, let me explain what my biggest complaint with Facebook official app really is; it’s the erratic notifications. I can live with the crashes, and I can perhaps even bear the random failures at refreshing data, but it’s really annoying to log in to my Facebook account and discover 10 notifications, out of which the Facebook app (for some mysterious reason) chose to display only 5 on my iPhone.
Hence this fix targets this particular problem with a free app called Boxcar. Boxcar is primarily a push notification client that works with a variety of services, including Facebook, Twitter, email, RSS, Growl, Google Voice and several others. We’ll set it up with Facebook in such a way that Boxcar will deliver the Facebook push notifications and you can utilize the Facebook web application for dealing with them.
Setting up Boxcar for Facebook push notifications
Once you have Boxcar installed on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, you’ll want to create a new Boxcar account – a relatively simple process even if you don’t already have one – before you can configure the app with your Facebook. Once logged in, you’ll see a similar interface:
Hit the ‘Add a Service’ button and choose Facebook from the list of services.
You need to now link your account with all the usual steps (logging in, authorizing the device, authorizing the app, etc.) before Boxcar will be ready to communicate with Facebook. After that, it’s relatively simple to get the rest of the options configured, which will allow you to determine what kind of Facebook push notifications to get and how to get notified, including the alert tone.
A unique feature that makes Boxcar even more useful is the ability to specify a default notification handler for each service that you configure, and in this case, you can easily ditch the Facebook official app and specify Boxcar to launch the Facebook web app as the default notification handler.
With this setup, you can eliminate the native Facebook app completely and still have your Facebook push notifications sent to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad with even better precision. Although this isn’t a perfect solution, it works, and I feel satisfied with it, at least until Facebook does something about these random issues.
On a neat ending note, Boxcar supports even more clients than just the official app, so you may want to check out the other options available. Let us know if you find a better alternative.