Boxcar Turns your iPhone into a BlackBerry

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By: Hillel Fuld

After years of using a BlackBerry as my primary mobile device, I recently switched to iPhone 4. Some might say I went over to the dark side, but I say, if the phone can do everything the BlackBerry can and more, then why not? Call me a fanboy if you want to, but I did not go Apple for the first three versions of the iPhone but when the 4 came out, it simply met all my needs.

The one thing I was seriously worried about (anyone who follows me on Twitter can confirm this) was the email. I am an email addict and many of the services I use daily (Ahem Twitter) have shortened my attention span and patience. I want to know when I get an email and I want to know immediately. BlackBerry is best known for its seamless email experience and the ability to have new mails pushed to your device in real time. I wanted that on the iPhone too and I got it with Boxcar.

Boxcar is a free app (was not always the case) that sends you push notifications as soon as new email arrives. You can then choose to read the message on the Web, in Boxcar itself, or do nothing and open the Mail app manually. I would have liked to have an option to open the message in the Mail app but due to Apple’s ridiculous restrictions, that is not possible.

Boxcar does not only send you notifications about new emails, it works with Facebook, Twitter (multiple accounts), RSS, and Growl notifications. I personally use Boxcar for email and Twitter only and despite my very specific needs and likes in regard to receiving notifications, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy this app.

The one thing that I did not like in the beginning was that Boxcar does not actually log into your account to know when new mail arrives, it actually provides you with a unique email address to which you forward all your email. As I said, I did not like this method as much as real push, but after a month of using it, I actually prefer it. For starters, at no point do you have to provide a username and password to Boxcar. The app has no access to your email account.

In addition, the need to forward emails struck me as annoying and unnecessary but as soon as I understood exactly how Boxcar worked, my concerns were put to rest. Boxcar does not actually store your email, it just receives the new message and notifies you that you should check your inbox. This system is more secure and since setting up forwarding in Gmail is a two second process, I know now, this is the way to go. It is important to remember that when setting up the forwarding in Gmail, to leave the message in your inbox and not delete it, since again, Boxcar does not store messages.

In addition to the superior email notifications you receive with Boxcar, I found the Twitter notifications to be extremely useful as well. I configured the app to notify me of new replies and DMs, and I find that the notifications come immediately, which often makes people wonder how I reply so fast on Twitter. What really impressed me about the Twitter integration is how many choices of apps Boxcar supports. You can choose what app to open when you receive a new reply or DM and the choices are many. In fact, I am pretty sure Boxcar has every single Twitter app as an option.

Another huge advantage of Boxcar is the ability to configure different sounds for different accounts. This is something I had on BlackBerry that made it easy to know if an email was work related or personal. The iPhone does not support this and it is a much needed feature.

Since Boxcar is free and it adds so much rich functionality to iOS devices, I really cannot think of any reason not to download it. By the way, I just covered the way I use Boxcar, but the app is loaded with features and customization options, so you can really use Boxcar the best way you see fit.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Boxcar. Have you tried it? Is there a better app out there for push notifications? Please let me know in the comments or you can always hit me up on Twitter, I will reply immediately, go ahead, test me.

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6 Discussions on
“Boxcar Turns your iPhone into a BlackBerry”
  • I don’t understand the vast difference in email experience talked about by Blackberry users. I ask users all the time, they say its great but can’t explain the difference from the iPhone.

    I get mail immediately on my iPhone. In fact, I almost always here my iPhone with new email before my PC desktop at work gets it from the exchange server. How do you get faster than that?

  • Hi Brock, I’ve been a Blackberry user for a year and I bought an Iphone4 a week ago. The vast difference in email experience is truly vast. Unless I’m doing something wrong with my Iphone. Blackberry has the little envelope which in my experience and every Blackberry user is the secret of the blackberry success, you have EVERYTHING there, in real time. First day I had my blackberry I was like mmmmm… ok… not that impressive and then I started using it and it’s no clicks or one click to get everywhere and with the iphone I have to touch like for things to get there, then go back, then go forward, then choose another app touch touch touch get there, write… it’s like you have this huge feeling you’re wasting your timer and there’s a much much easier way to do things, the blackberry way.

    Now I’m looking for some app to install in my Iphone that allows me to go back to my simple life ;)

  • Ive had various blackberry models since we were forced to use them at work, and I have not been impressed with it. They are good at notifying you immediately, but so were old school pagers, and the blackberry interface is barely a step above that. Boxcar not only gives me immediate feedback but control over it, and on a modern platform.