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GitHub Mobile brings new push notifications to developers

The latest version of GitHub mobile delivers push notifications to developers in a manner that enables them to set time frames for when they can and cannot be reached.

With remote workers in mind, GitHub recently tweaked its GitHub Mobile app to enable developers to get work done wherever they may be at the time.

A year after the introduction of GitHub Mobile, the company has delivered enhanced mobile notifications to help developers customize their experience and get work done on the go.

"We're shipping a bunch of features to improve notification management and making it possible to view releases natively in the app," said Candy Ho, product manager of the GitHub Mobile apps, in a blog post.

The new release is now available on iOS and Android.

The changes to GitHub Mobile extend the range of tasks developers can take care of via a mobile device, said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at RedMonk based in Portland, Maine.

The new version of GitHub Mobile is related to the company's effort to support hybrid and asynchronous work models and to enable developers to be productive from anywhere, said Ryan Nystrom, GitHub's senior director of engineering, in an interview.

"When we originally built and launched the mobile app, which was actually just a little over a year ago, we wanted to add notifications in the app," he said. "And so you're able to see all of your GitHub notifications and could triage them. But we also wanted to add push notifications. I think push notifications are one of the core value adds of a mobile app."

Work-life balance

Users can toggle on push notifications when they are directly mentioned, when they've been requested to review a pull request, when assigned a task and when requested to approve a deployment for a protected environment, Nystrom said.

Other updates include a scheduling feature called Working Hours where users can specify when they want notifications paused. Another new feature enables users to view releases natively in the app.

"When we first launched the app, we were really concerned about people that were running these huge repositories, being just blasted with notifications," Nystrom said. "It was really important to us to not turn the phone into this thing that was constantly pinging in your pocket with people asking you to do more work, and negatively impacting your work-life balance."

No need for a laptop

The deploy approvals feature comes into play when a user is getting ready to deploy, and as an extra precautionary step, they want an approval from a human being to make sure that the deploy looks good before sending it into production.

You shouldn't need a laptop if all you need to do is change a couple of lines of code and then review the deploy, approve it and get it out into production, Nystrom said.

"If you're requested to approve a deploy, you can just open the deploy from your phone, review it and hit approve," he said.

In addition, the new release of GitHub Mobile gives users the ability to see updates about releases via watch repositories as organizations shift to microservices, innersource and the use of open source libraries to stay on top of new releases and take action on those updates.

Fine-grained control over notifications is critical, said Thomas Murphy, an analyst at Gartner. "I think this is specifically true in the current pandemic world with people working all hours and often losing control of work-life balance," he said. "So now you have the benefit of the mobile app to do approvals, see workflow, provide comments but have control of when and what you are notified about."

Meanwhile, GitHub also released GitHub Desktop 2.7, which enables users to easily copy commits from one branch to another via a drag-and-drop interface. This was a highly requested feature, Nystrom said.

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