msgpush.com for IMAP push email to your iPhone

When the iPhone came out, it was great to hear that it had a good IMAP client built in. At the same time, there was talk of the iPhone supporting “push” email, and there was an expectation that the push would be done via the IMAP IDLE extension. With some help from users, we unfortunately discovered that wasn’t true, and that the push only worked with Yahoo initially, and it was done with some background mechanism not available to users or other providers. For all other IMAP providers, the iPhone only did polling of the IMAP account every 15 minutes.

With the iPhone 2.0 software, there was support for push from Exchange based servers. Unfortunately there was still no IMAP push support.

With the iPhone 3.0 software, there’s now a general push notifications framework built into the phone. Unfortunately, it appears that framework is only designed around user applications, there’s no way to push notifications to any of the built in applications (eg there’s no way for us to tell the Mail application on a particular phone that there’s new messages).

So the situation today for IMAP users appears to be the same as when the iPhone first came out. You can only use regular polling to check for new email, while Yahoo/Exchange/MobileMe use some “behind the scenes” magic others don’t get access to to do push notifications.

Fortunately there may now be another solution. msgpush.com is a beta service that connects to an existing IMAP account, and uses IMAP IDLE to get push notifications of IMAP updates, and then uses the Exchange protocol to push those updates to your iPhone. The net result is a complete IMAP push solution for the iPhone.

We’re interested in hearing about user experiences of the service in our forum.

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New login screens and help pages released

We’ve just updated the login page that people see when they go to http://www.fastmail.fm. The new page is a much cleaner design, and more closely matches the theme and colours of our new web interface released earlier this year. It also provides more information about our family and business accounts to new potential customers to give them a better idea of what FastMail offers these days.

We’ve also started reworking our help pages. The old FAQ was bogged down and out of date, and we’re replacing it with a new set of help pages at http://www.fastmail.fm/help/ which will be better organised and more searchable. The new help isn’t complete yet, but it already has a significant amount of updated information and will be updated over the next few months with additional details.

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Microsoft really closing WebDAV access for Hotmail, use POP instead

As noted previously, Microsoft planned to close WebDAV access to Hotmail in June 2008. However due to customer demand, they changed their minds. Since then they’ve implemented POP3 access for Hotmail, and because of that, have decided to fully close down WebDAV access on 1 Sep 2009.

What this means for FastMail users is that if you’re using a Options -> Pop Link to download Hotmail email to your account that’s a Hotmail type link, you have to change it to a POP type link with the following details before 1 Sep 2009.

You can use the Test button lower down the page to confirm that your new settings are working correctly.

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Updated: Default personality accidentally cleared for all users

In my rush to work out what was wrong, the below was in fact completely incorrect. What happened was that some code got rolled out that expected a change to the DB table, but the change hadn’t been applied to the DB. Code then trying to pull data from the DB table was failing because the column wasn’t present, making lots of data look “NULL” internally.

With the appropriate database update applied, everything should now be working correctly, and no data was lost.

In the web interface, users can set a “default personality” that’s used when they go to the Compose screen. Due to a database query error, that value has accidentally been cleared for all users, so currently the web interface will be picking the “first” personality for each user by default.

We’re working on retrieving data from a backup database to restore the values for all users, I’ll update this ticket when we’ve done that.

If you need this fixed immediately, you can manually fix this by going to Options -> Personalities, selecting the personality in the list at the left, and clicking the “Make default personality” button to make it the default. When we do the database restore, we’ll leave any values manually fixed so we don’t override them.

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