Setup WordPress Comment Notifications To Your iPhone Using WordPress WPTouch Plugin And Prowl
There are numerous items that need to be installed to make this work end to end and I assume that you probably have one of the items already installed which is how you probably found this article. The end goal is to be able to receive Push Notifications on your iPhone in a couple different scenarios including whenever someone posts a comment to an article on your WordPress blog, when new users register on your WordPress blog, or when users send you direct messages using your WordPress mobile theme’s contact form. You may or may not be familiar with Push Notifications on your iPhone so I will explain specifically what they are below but the short explanation is they are notification messages of some sort that will pop up on your iPhone without you having to have a specific application already open. Below I describe how to integrate your WordPress blog with Prowl using the WPTouch WordPress plugin.
What Exactly Are Push Notifications On My iPhone?
Push Notifications were launched by Apple with the release of iPhone OS 3.0 and provide the ability to third party applications to communicate directly to your iPhone using push technology. This means that third party applications such as Prowl can have a connection directly to your device to send notifications such as pop up text messages and/or sounds without having to run a background process at all times thus saving battery life and resources on your iPhone. Below is an example Push Notification sent to my iPhone using Prowl which is configured through the WPTouch WordPress mobile theme.
Example Push Notification Sent To iPhone Via Prowl:
As you can see in the above Push Notification my iPhone was locked at the time it was received which makes this a very useful technology to notify you regarding activity on your WordPress blog so you don’t have to check email all the time to do the same thing.
Download & Install The WordPress Plugin Named WPTouch iPhone Theme:
You may already have this installed but I just wanted to give a brief set of instructions regarding this WordPress plugin in case someone reading this does not already have the WPTouch iPhone Theme installed. The WPTouch iPhone Theme will provide what I consider to be the best mobile theme available for your WordPress blog. The WPTouch plugin is actively developed and new features are consistently launched. If you plan on having users visit your site from mobile devices this plugin is a must as it will make the load 5+ times quicker than if you are using the default theme for your WordPress blog. One thing to watch out for is if you have any caching plugins installed such as WP Super Cache you will need to make some custom modifications to get everything functioning properly such as the .htaccess modifications noted in this article.
- Download WPTouch iPhone Theme: First visit WordPress.Org by clicking here to download the WPTouch iPhone Theme from the WordPress plugins directory.
- Unzip WPTouch iPhone Theme: Now unzip the WPTouch file, which is currently named wptouch.18.104.22.168.zip, you just downloaded by right clicking on the file and selecting Extract Here. This will create a new folder in the directory the wptouch.22.214.171.124.zip file is located in called wptouch which includes all of the necessary files you will upload to your server.
- Upload WPTouch WordPress Plugin: Some people get confused with WPTouch being developed as a theme but in reality it is actually still a plugin. It is developed as a plugin because of the other features it offers. Open your favorite FTP client, which in my case is FileZilla (an open source FTP application), and login using FTP to the server where your WordPress blog is located. You should upload the “wptouch” folder to the plugins directory of your WordPress blog which is located in the path below.
WordPress Plugins Directory:
- Enable WPTouch iPhone Theme Plugin: Login to your WordPress blogs admin site typically located at www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin. Once logged in click on the Plugins sub section in the left navigation and make sure All is selected from the Plugins Navigation. Scroll down until you see WPTouch iPhone Theme and then click the Activate link located right below the plugin title. After activating the plugin you should click on the Settings link which will now be located right next to the Deactivate link so you can complete initial configuration.
- Test WPTouch iPhone Theme Plugin: Now on a mobile device visit the URL to your blog. If you are not sure if the plugin is installed correctly you can also test by visiting www.question-defense.com from a mobile device and that will give you an idea of how your site should now look. If the plugin doesn’t appear to be working simply visit the WPTouch web site to find tips for troubleshooting. An example of what WPTouch will look like is displayed in the below image of Question Defense shown on an iPhone.
Now that you have WPTouch installed and functioning properly it is time to download Prowl, register a Prowl account, and then configure WPTouch to automatically send Push Notifications to your iPhone. Prowl is a Growl client for your iPhone and is easy to install and configure as explained in more detail below. Click the below button to launch iTunes so you can download Prowl and then sync your iPhone with iTunes to finalize the installation of Prowl on your iPhone.
Install & Configure Prowl On iPhone, Register A Prowl Account, Obtain Prowl API Key:
- Install Prowl On Your iPhone: First click here to download and install Prowl on your iPhone or iPod Touch. The Prowl application costs $2.99 from the iTunes App Store but in my opinion it is well worth it and as you can see from iTunes it has a solid four star ranking because people are satisfied with their purchase of the application. Once Prowl has been downloaded to iTunes make sure to plugin your iPhone to sync it with iTunes so Prowl is installed onto your iPhone or iPod Touch. A view of the Prowl iTunes App Store preview is displayed in the below image.
- Register A Prowl Account: Registering for a Prowl account is easy and doesn’t even require that you use an email address if you choose not to. I personally suggest you do use an email address so you can be notified of any application updates or other Prowl news. Click here to visit the Prowl registration page which is displayed in the below image. Simply fill in a username, password, email address (optional), and then click the Register button. Your registration is now completed!
- Obtain Prowl API Key: Now that you have registered with Prowl go ahead and login to the site. Once logged in click on the Settings tab in the top navigation to display the Prowl web site page shown below which is where you can generate a Prowl API key.
Click the “Generate API Key” button to generate a unique Prowl API Key that we need to configuration communication between your iPhone and your WordPress blog. After you click the Generate API Key button your Prowl API Key will display on this page as shown in the below image.
Now that your Prowl API Key is generated click the Copy button to the left of the API Key to copy it to your clipboard. We will need to paste the API Key into your WPTouch settings below.
- Login To Prowl On iPhone: Now back on your iPhone launch the Prowl application which will look like the below example image on your iPhone.
Type on the username and password you registered with on the Prowl web site as shown in the below image and then click the Login button or the Go button to complete the login.
Immediately after clicking the Login button a question will pop up as displayed in the below image stating, “Prowl Would Like to Send You Push Notifications – Notifications may include alerts, sounds, and icon badges. These can be configured in Settings.”.
Click OK to confirm that you want to allow Prowl to send Push Notifications to your iPhone or iPod Touch. After you click OK you will be at the Prowl application screen and as you can see below there is not much to it.
If you click the Settings button in the top left corner of the Prowl screen you can see what settings can be configured for the Prowl Push Notifications as displayed in the below image. The Settings include turning on/off sounds, providing times that Push Notifications are sent, setting different sounds for actions, and the ability to create application redirects.
- Verify Prowl Shows iPhone Device: Now that you have logged into Prowl from your iPhone a device should show connected to Prowl on the Prowl website. Click here and log back into the Prowl web site and then click on the Settings tab to see if a Device shows underneath the Current Devices section. As you can see in the below example the device will not show the type of device that it is only the fact that a device is connected to Prowl using the same login information.
Verify Push Notifications Sent To Prowl On iPhone From WordPress WPTouch Plugin:
Now that everything is configured you can verify things are working properly by going to your WordPress site and posting a comment to one of the articles. Within a short amount of time after posting the comment you should receive a Push Notification on the iPhone with details about the comment you posted. The Push Notification will look very similar to the example image shown at the very beginning of this article.