What Are Push Notifications?

Push technology is based on the publish-subscribe model. In this model the client subscribes to the server and every time the server publishes some information, it is pushed to all the clients. There are several real world examples of push technology such as instant messaging, emails, gaming, sports results etc. There are various techniques that work behind the scenes to enable push technology.

Mobile operating systems such as iOS, Android and other use this push technology to send out messages commonly referred to as push notifications to the de- vices. In this case the device subscribes to a various information channels available through the apps in- stalled on the device. When these information channels publish any kind of information, they are pushed on to the subscriber's device and arrive as push notifications.

These notifications prove to be very useful because of a few different reasons:

  • Push notifications arrive even when the app is in the background
  • Push notifications mimic the behavior of a text message in the way they arrive.
  • It is very hard to miss these notifications because they flash on the mobile screen and stay there until the user unlocks the device. This is what makes push notifications especially important because they ensure that your messages will always be read or noticed.

Apps that want to send push notifications to a device usually need to obtain permission from the user at the time of install. Mobile operating systems store this setting and allow users to change this setting at a later time.

Now that we understand push notifications, let us look at how this could be useful in a business environment. In order to send push notifications to a mobile device, the first and foremost requirement is to have the user install an app that enables this service. Once the user installs an app and allows it to send push notifications, that app can now send real time messages to that device at anytime.

Let's say you installed an app from your favorite grocery store and allowed it to send you push notifications. The grocery store can keep you informed about the promotions and discounts in real time using push notifications. This is just one use case and there are several others. Useful messaging can keep the users engaged with the app and boost your marketing power.

Push notifications are the future of mobile messaging and with Apple's new iBeacon technology, it is only going to become more an and more significant for the marketers.

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