How Push Notifications Work

how push notifications work

One of the advantages over creating an app, rather than just a mobile website is the ability to send push notifications. However, after talking recently to a few potential customers, it seems that some people are not sure on exactly how push notifications work.

The first and most important thing to know about how push notifications work is that they have nothing to do with an actual mobile phone number. You would not need to know the phone number of a device receiving a push notification from you, in order for them to receive it.

Instead, what happens is the device itself is registered and creates a “token”, which is effectively a granted permission to receive notifications from your app. You may well have seen a message pop up when you down load an app saying something like “This App wants to send you notifications”. It then gives you the choice of whether to accept or decline. If you accept, your device is registered and the push notification system at the back end of the app, adds your device to the list of devices who have accepted notifications.

Of course if you choose to decline, you won’t get any messages at all.

Also if you remove the app at any point, the notifications will stop because the system requires you to obviously have the app, in order to receive notifications connected to that app.

The advantage of this system is that if you have an ipad version and an iphone version of an app on separate devices, you will be asked to accept on each device. If you do that, both will receive notifications. If however you sold your phone and got a new one, the new phone owner, even if they kept the old number, wouldn’t get pestered by the notifications, unless you didn’t delete the data first (which of course you would).

So if they downloaded the same app but put in their own account details, as soon as they hit accept, the notification system re-registers the device to the new account. If you imagine Facebook or Twitter using mobile numbers to do notifications, it would be a nightmare but by locking the device, to an account and the app itself, everybody get’s the messages they should.

Of course in reality, most people keep their old numbers but it’s just nice to know that even if somebody downloads the same app you had, they won’t suddenly get all of your old notifications.

The same applies the other way around. When you get your new phone and set up your old apps (or even if they are restored through a cloud service) once you log into the app, you will be asked again about whether or not you want to receive notification.

In terms of the notifications themselves, most apps do use automated notifications. So if somebody sends you a new message on a chat app or a new property is added to a property search site, you’ll get a push. But they can also be sent manually providing the app developer has set up the facility for you to do this.

The big advantage with push notifications over texts and emails is that there is no “junk” setting or cost. They are completely free and because you have given the app permission to send them, you will always receive them.

OK, well that’s just a brief overview on how push notifications work and they are a vital part of the app development process. If you’re considering an app for your business, it’s very important that you think carefully on how you will set yours up. Too many notifications will annoy customers and too few won’t get the messages across in the right way, so it’s all about balance.

All our apps come with a push notification manager, which is flexible and offers automated and manual options. This is vital for the ongoing marketing side of the app as it’s important that you are able to change things around to suit your apps performance and customer base.

Talk to us if you need any more guidance regarding how push notifications work and how they could work for you.

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