Incipia blog

Mobile App Push Notifications are Becoming Less Challenging

Gregory Klein | September 16, 2016

Feature Image Credit: OneSignal

OneSignal is a Push Notification Service Worth Checking Out

Almost every single app project that comes our way involves the use of push notifications. Why? Because push notifications have become part of the standard, everyday mobile experience. Users don't view them as a luxury either; in fact, users expect push notifications to provide important reminders when using an app, such as informing you of new messages from Airbnb, sending word of new Snapchats or providing notice that your Uber is arriving.

I can't speak for all developers out there, but implementing push notifications in iOS is not a walk in the park. It involves a thorough understanding of the Apple Push Notification Service, and server-side code to actually trigger them. This may not seem like the end of the world for your team, but from a business perspective, the time involved to implement push can become more difficult to estimate, especially if the boiler plate server-side code is contracted out.

An important question: What usually ends up happening when an app has to be finished yesterday, for the lowest possible price, with all of the features included? You guessed it! Robust, open-source, third party SDKs! Let me just say – I use said SDKs with caution; I am of the opinion that there is a time and place for them, but I've seen the downfall of apps that were "Frankensteined" together.

That said, while we're talking about push notifications and third-party SDKs, I want to introduce you to OneSignal.

Here is why OneSignal is special – they provide an SDK for just about every single platform and you can actively observe (or even contribute to) their several codebases on GitHub. I just discovered them a few days ago and have already watched several issues become resolved.

I was able to get user-to-user push notifications working in less time than it took me to figure out that Firebase's updated iOS SDK only supports downstream push notifications out of the box, without server-side code. That is, without server-side code, it is only possible to send push notifications to devices via the Notifications console.

One Signal lists a few more benefits on their site as well:
  • User Segmentation 
  • A/B testing (similar to Mailchimp, this feature even lets you test a couple messages with a small percentage of your users, and then send the winner to the rest)
  • Instantaneous performance tracking
  • Huge scale – free for even millions of users (for now)
  • Push scheduling
The Bottom Line: OneSignal is a Web, Windows Phone, Chrome, Android and iOS push notification service that gets it right and makes implementing push notifications a breeze, without sacrificing quality and stability.

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