As a member of the iPhone Developer Network, I received an email from Apple today inviting me to "test the Apple Push Notification service" by downloading a new version of the Associated Press app. They'd given me a special code to use in iTunes that would redeem into a download of the app but unfortunately the code only works in the US Store. Furthermore, trying to switch to the US Store didn't work as my account is tied to the UK Store. I was going to give up but then I had an idea on how to get around this problem. Here's how I did it:
Creating a new account
When you use the "redeem" section of iTunes, you type in your code and if you're not logged in already it prompts you to. However, you can also register at this stage so I decided to set myself up a nice new US account. You have to link a credit card or payment method to your account and I initially tried to do this but it blocked me as the payment method wasn't based in the US (either using a credit card or paypal). However, as I was redeeming a code, they have to give you the option of registering without a credit card as it might be you've given a $25 gift card to your nephew or something like that. Therefore, all I had to do was choose "no payment method" and then fill out the rest of the form. Email was easy as I run my own domain so just created a dummy email account, and faking an address is made very easy thanks to reverse geocoding. I simply went to getlatlon.com, picked a random place in Florida, and then used a reverse geo-coding app to convert that lat lon into a street address. Easy!
Now that the account was created, my code was automatically redeemed and the app downloaded to my machine. It synced across to my iPhone with no problems and is now running happily. I've attached some screenshots below:
So as you can see, the app triggers a new "notifications" panel where you can enable or disable individual apps and the alerts that they are allowed to send you. I haven't yet received any notifications but will update photos and any additional functionality as and when it happens.
Update: Just received my first push notification! I remember during the last Apple Keynote (the launch of the 3.0 beta) that the reason push hadn't been introduced before is because it's a complex system that has to be set up differently for every mobile provider. After an hour with no updates, I had begun to think that O2 wasn't set up but it would appear that they are!
Note: Technically, this should fall under the iPhone Developer NDA. However, ever since iPhone Beta 3.0 was released to the development community, every Mac blog has published photos and detailed information without any kind of reproach from Apple so I feel that there is no problem in publishing these photos.