Push Notification Strategy in iOS 10

Written by: on September 13, 2016

Delight Users and Increase Engagement with Updatable Notifications in iOS 10

Push notifications are a must-implement reengagement strategy for mobile applications. iOS 10 introduces enhancements to make notifications richer including photo, animated gif, and video support. Some of this tech has been on Android for quite some time and data shows that including photos in notifications netted a 56% higher direct open rate on average than notifications without images. There are two great sessions at WWDC if you’re interested in the deep technical details, Introduction to Notifications and Advanced Notifications.

Additionally, iOS 10 introduces the ability to update a notification that has been sent to the device resulting in several user experience improvements. For example, in news, if a push goes out with an error in the copy or a fact that needs to be updated, a new push can be sent correcting the content. In sports, a single game could be represented by one push notification element that is updated with information as the game goes on. Notification Center can feel like a very chaotic place, your users will thank you for thoughtfully using screen space within it.

In order to send these notifications an identifier must be provided in each payload, that’s it! This only works using the new HTTP/2 APNS Service, so it is a good time to insure the method by which your push notifications are sent supports this service. The value to set is the apns-collapse-id in the headers of the request and lets iOS know which notification to update. If a notification comes in with the id set while one exists within Notification Center, it will not only be updated, but pushed to the top of notification center so the user knows the data is current.

The use cases shown above are basic so I created a more advanced use case based on something I’ve done for a while. I’m a big Phish fan, and I follow the @Phish_FTR twitter handle with notifications turned on. As Phish plays, I get an update with each song they are playing. This is awesome to keep up with what they’re playing, but it creates a cluttered Notification Center and if I dismiss a notification, I lose the setlist. It looks like this:


So what would a better experience look like? One notification per show that is updated as the band plays. I wrote a sample that leverages the Phish.net API to simulate this feature. Simple scripts like this are a great way to play with how the interface will look on the device and evolve into a production ready solution.

Overall users will appreciate apps not cluttering their notification center and providing more information at a glance. I’m personally excited to see what other fun ideas app developers come up with with the new push notification features in iOS 10.

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This article is part of our Welcome to iOS 10 series.

Ben Reubenstein

Ben Reubenstein

Ben Reubenstein, CEO of POSSIBLE Mobile, leads a team of highly dedicated, mobile-centric professionals who create native mobile apps and engaging consumer experiences. He also developed one of the first 150 iOS apps for Apple's app store.

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