Push technology refers to sending direct messages or communications to a push capable client (i.e. a mobile device) from a centralized broadcast (messaging) server. Whereas with pull technology the client requests specific data from a server and the server responds by sending data to the device (eg. For website browsing) instead, push technology allows a user to ‘opt-in’ to certain messages that will be sent directly to their mobile device. Push messages can be sent using a variety of methods. The most common push technology is Short Message Service (SMS), which is used to send text messages from one mobile device to another. Then there is Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), which uses both SMS and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) to deliver multimedia messages. MMS is used particularly to send pictures and video from one mobile device to the next. By using these tools you can actually broadcast a message that can activate applications or alerts on a mobile device.
The Apple Push Notification Service is a service created by Apple that was launched with iOS 3.0 in 2009. Push notifications require an active Wi-Fi or cellular connection. They are basically an easy way for iOS apps to provide instant alerts and related information to users. Push notifications allow different apps to notify you of new messages or events without you needing to actually open the application. This is similar to how a text message might make a sound and pop up on your screen. Push technology is a great way for apps to interact with users in the background, whether it is a new email or someone tagging a picture of you on Facebook. Whenever an event takes place that causes an app to send a notification, the notification is pushed to the user by one of three options: sound, on screen alert, or badge. Most apps that support push notifications allow users to select which of the three notifications (if any) they would like to use to make them aware of updates. In addition to pushing messages to the screen, push notification also allows apps to display a number or ‘badge’ on the app’s icon. For example, the Mail icon will show the number four if you have four unread messages.
Local and push notifications are great for keeping users up to date with relevant content, whether your app is running in the background or inactive. They also have great marketing potential as they allow for communications to go directly to a customer’s mobile phone from a centralized server. This has a wide array of benefits as it can boost your overall marketing strategy, while reducing the costs of communication. It is also possible to personalize the messaging, since most mobile devices have a single owner who will likely have it with them all day. The notifications also forces a certain level of interactivity, as the owners are likely to view the new messages and updates as soon as they come in.