Things Cloud “Nimbus” Released

The next version of Things Cloud is here—with a brand new architecture we’ve built to deliver push sync across your devices.

Three years have now passed since the launch of Things Cloud. Over these 36 months, the service has done exceptionally well. It has proven to be robust and reliable, and continues to receive fantastic feedback.

Now, as you know, we’ve been working away on Things 3. Part of this time has been invested in enhancements for Things Cloud in a project we call “Nimbus”, and this is what we’d like to talk about today.

Pushing Changes Across Devices

Shortly after Things Cloud launched, we released a feature called Local Push. It makes sync instantaneous as long as Things is open on your devices (and they’re on the same local network). But of course the app is often closed on your mobile device—so it won’t receive the push, and won’t be in sync until you manually launch the app later.

Today’s new version of Things Cloud solves this problem by sending your devices a push from the cloud (regardless of what network they’re connected to). This means that most of the time you’re in sync even before you launch the app. Here’s how it works:

  1. You make a change on your Mac; this change is immediately sent to Things Cloud.
  2. Things Cloud determines which of your other devices should receive the change, and asks Apple’s Push Notification Service to contact them via a push notification.
  3. Apple’s notification service contacts your devices and wakes Things.
  4. Things wakes in the background on these devices, requests the latest changes from Things Cloud, and integrates them. The next time you launch the app, it’s already in sync.

Note that Apple’s role in this process is only to deliver notifications, not transmit the data itself. Your data is only ever communicated between your devices and Things Cloud—just like before.

Of course, we need to be responsible about the frequency of these pushes. If we did too many, too often, there would be a lot of unnecessary traffic. So we’ve configured Nimbus for low-priority pushes that wake Things infrequently: typically, up to 10 minutes can pass until a push is received by a dormant device.

You’re already using it

Nimbus is a significant enhancement to Things Cloud—a 2.0 if you will—which enhances the “just works” experience you’ve come to expect. You don’t need to enable it, or configure any settings—you’re already using it. We hope you didn’t notice! It’s meant to be completely silent.