Flappy Bird hasn’t graced the Apple App Store in years, not since its meteoric rise in popularity back in 2014 before its creator just as swiftly took it offline. Now the furiously addictive mobile game has been reincarnated in a form no one expected: an interactive macOS notification.
Using the new suite of customization tools added with Apple’s macOS Big Sur update, iOS engineer Neil Sardesai successfully stuffed a fully playable version of the game into a push notification. It’s technically a clone of the original created by PlayCanvas creator Will Eastcott with a significantly smaller file size (28KB), which makes it a perfect match given the strict memory limitations of Apple’s user notification UI framework.
Flappy Bird isn’t the first game Sardesai has managed to squeeze into Apple’s interfaces. Previously, he made the classic game Pong playable as an icon on the Mac dock and fit Google Chrome’s iconic browser game Dino Runner in the Mac menu bar.
“Lately I’ve been trying to find fun ways to push the limits of various macOS APIs,” he told Gizmodo via email Sunday.
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When browsing through Apple’s documentation on the framework for creating and customizing user notifications, he noticed that the latest version of macOS allows developers to add “interactive controls” to notifications. Apple suggests a few potential uses for developers, such as adding buttons or switches, but Sardesai took things one step forward, deciding instead to “try embedding a game into a notification.”
He showcased the final product on Twitter this week with mouse clicks replacing the screen taps players used in the original Flappy Bird to progress. Spoiler alert: It’s every bit as frustrating as you remember.
It’s safe to assume that when Apple decided to add interactive capabilities to its notifications, it didn’t exactly have game development in mind. You have to admire the ingenuity, and I love that it’s become the internet’s unofficial mission to find the most surprising tech you can program to run video games.
And yes, before you say anything, we already asked Sardesai the inevitable question: Can it run Doom?
“Doom in a push notification would be impressive,” he said. “Worth a try!”