Push Notifications Services. How to choose?
OUR Blog
Python developer
Ekaterina Zublenko
Python developer
PYTHON/DJANGO
Nov 04 2016

Push Notifications Services. How to choose?

Who may enjoy this article?

This article will interest you in case:

  • You want to understand if you need to use push notifications in your app or not;

  • You want to make up your mind what service is the most suitable for your app;

  • You look for Parse alternative.

Push notification, also called server push notification, is the delivery of information from a software application to a computing device without a specific request from the client.

Unlike pull notifications, in which the client must request information from a server, push notifications originate from a server. Typically, the end user must opt-in to receive alerts; opt-in usually takes place during the install process and end users are provided with a way to manage alerts if they change their minds later on.

An important advantage of push notifications in mobile computing is that the technology doesn't require specific applications on a mobile device to be open in order for a message to be received. This allows a smartphone to receive and display social media or text message alerts even when the device's screen is locked and the social media application that is pushing the notification is closed.

The importance of smartphones and push notifications in everyday life

This is not surprising, because the smartphone has become an integral part of our lives. We use different kinds of applications to chat with friends, plan our tasks and time, create videos and photos, do almost anything in fact. And the ability to make calls is no longer its primary function.

The number of smartphone users statistics

The number of smartphone users statistics

Push notifications are indispensable in the development of this process. They always keep us posted with important information and make sure that we can respond to the notification relevant at this very moment in time. This may be a new message from colleagues or friends, information about discounts, fresh news from an online resource you like, etc.

There’s the other side of the coin though. As a user may have a large number of applications installed, the number of push-notifications can be unacceptably high and cause a negative attitude towards them. Therefore, application developers must be aware of tacit etiquette of using push notifications:

Push notifications

  • Let the users manage push notifications themselves;
  • Send only really important notifications, e.g. the relevance of which is limited in time.

An example of the important and urgent notifications may be flights changes of the airlines of a user’s interest or special offers available only during short period of time. In this case the push notification is sent to ensure a user doesn’t miss out on this information. No-rush messages can be sent to email. This scenario will not cause irritation and the desire to turn off all notifications of your application, thus the user will develop loyalty to it.

Tips on how to make push notifications effective for your business

  • As it was stated before, the user must have an opportunity to turn on or turn off push notifications. Making these settings flexible will be more efficient, so it’s always a good practice to enable the users to choose those notifications they are really interested in. If the users have only two variants - to turn all the notifications on or to turn them off they’ll most likely stick to the second option.

  • Avoid sending the users an abundance of notifications. They will turn them off if you’re lucky, if not they will delete your application. A better option will be to group the notifications and to send them only within a preset time span.

  • Use push notifications for getting users’ feedback about your app.

Now having the idea of what the push notifications are we can look at the possible variants to choose the most suitable one.

Some services and their tools

Let's look at the most popular services. Most of them offer not only push notifications, but many other useful tools.

1. Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS). If you are already using any Amazon services, then you’ll like using its service for sending push-notifications as well, as Amazon SNS can also send messages to the Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), AWS Lambda functions or to any HTTP server.

Sending push notifications to Apple, Google, Fire OS, Windows devices SNS allows you to send messages both to a single recipient and to a large number of recipients at the same time. You can use the SNS service to send SMS-messages to mobile device users around the world.

Receive the information about the status of delivery containing the statistics of successful or unsuccessful deliveries and mobile push-notifications standby time via Amazon CloudWatch.

The first million of Amazon SNS requests per month are free. Then every additional million of Amazon SNS requests costs 0,50 USD.

Tip: Amazon suggests using boto3 library that enables you to access Amazon SNS from your Python backend.

2. Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) is a service for sending single and multiple push notifications to Android and iOS devices and to web applications.

FCM is the new version of GCM. If you are integrating messaging in a new app, start with FCM. GCM users are strongly recommended to upgrade to FCM, in order to benefit from new FCM features today and in the future.

So we already use FCM instead of GCM in our projects. This service is free for any number of messages and also there’s an opportunity to use two types of messages - push and data ones.

Tip: In our work we use Pyfcm library. Also our team works on the development of our own inside application to work with FCM API.

3. Pushwoosh is a free unlimited cross platform push notifications, available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Phonegap, Unity, Marmalade, Adobe Air - Easy integration, open-source SDK.

In addition Pushwoosh provides such tools as timezone support, in-app messaging, multi-language push, A/B tests, etc. Push notifications are free, other tools are available after purchasing a premium plan.

Tip: Pushwoosh developers suggest using pypushwoosh library for Python backend.

4. Urban Airship is the oldest and the most popular service for sending push notifications. It supports iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Unity, Adobe AIR, Cordova, React.

Alongside push notifications it provides such tools as language targeting, timezone support, scheduling campaigns, custom segments, transactional API, etc. Unlimited Push Notifications are free, other tools are available after purchasing a premium plan.

Tip: This service developers suggest using urbanairship Python library.

Conclusion:

These services are not the only ones worthy of attention. Your choice should be based on the individual requirements and criteria. You’d better decide if you will use additional tools of the chosen service as well, or you’re going to use push notifications only. This decision will influence both the implementation time and the cost of the service.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you have any questions feel free to contact us with any questions. You can without any doubts intrust us the development of your mobile app, including its backend and design.

Useful links

  1. What is push notification?
  2. Statistic: Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2014 to 2020
  3. Mobile push notifications providers
  4. SteelKiwi@GitHub
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