Mozilla engineers have begun work on a new API for Web sites that will allow them to notify you when they update, similar to how a mobile app notifies you that it has new content for you to check out. But what it really sounds like is a way to drag the concept of RSS feeds into Web 2.0--finally.
Jeff Balogh, a Web developer at Mozilla, explained in a blog post earlier this week that the push application programming interface is designed to extend the idea of the push services we already experience on iOS and Android to the entire Web. Although I don't have confirmation of this at the time of publication, the push API ought to give Web apps notification abilities.
Balogh described a simple process for how it works. First, the Web site gets a URL where it can send notifications to the user. The URL points to the notification service, which is a secret between the user and the site. Then, the site sends a notification to the service. The service then delivers the message to the browser. As a Mozilla engineer, it's not surprising that his example was Firefox, but he is correct in noting that his employer makes one of the few browsers that's available on all the major platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS (as Firefox Home).
One goal of the service, he wrote, was not to show a notification more than once. So, if you've dismissed a notice on one platform, it won't show up again on another. This is good because it acknowledges that we live in a multiple device, cross-platform world.
The push API will allow sites to tell readers and fans that there's been an update even when they're not viewing the site in question. That sounds like a modernized RSS to me, which is a great idea. The way that RSS tells you that a site has been updated is a must for people like me who follow hundreds of sites, some daily, but others only when there's an update. To get the utility of those notifications but in a way that's closer to how we currently experience the Web could prove to be more popular than RSS ever was.