WWDC11: All About APNS and Notifications

Our team here at Urban Airship is very excited about the new Notification Center for push messages on iOS, announced today at WWDC. This is clear validation of push messaging as a relevant and exciting means of mobile communication. Apple clearly recognizes the value and demand for push notifications and is doubling down on its APNS push infrastructure. On behalf of all iOS developers, we could not be happier.
We’ve advocated giving users more control over their notifications, letting them set fine-grained preferences around the manner and appearance of their alerts and controlling when they should arrive and be read. Notification Center puts the unique Apple polish on push notification management, giving users an elegant and non-intrusive view of incoming messages and a quick way to read and follow through on messages directly from the lock screen.

What it means for consumers: The new Notification Center, announced today, makes it much easier for users to consume, manage and act on incoming notifications. The Notification Center, which stores received messages in one place, accessible from either the lock screen or as a swipe down from within an app, allows users to peruse and engage with notifications at a time that is most convenient to them. They can choose when to read them, when to launch the app from the message and when to delete the messages. The user’s overall experience is much improved, which opens up tons of opportunity for developers. Rather than getting lost in the flow of modal notifications, better organization and higher visibility means more opportunities to drive engagement.

Why is this great for app developers Because notifications will no longer be viewed as interruptions or as disruptive, the chances that users will read — and act upon — notifications greatly increases. They are more likely to opt-in to receive notifications from more apps, which will drive up overall user engagement and create ongoing conversations between users and the brands behind the apps.

What it means for brands: As push notification usage grows in volume and popularity, business users and marketers demand better insight into user response to notifications and the overall ROI on their app messaging campaigns. Urban Airship Reports, releasing into General Availability tomorrow, provides quantitative, actionable insight into user behavior. Combined with Notification Center, Reports will give developers insightful, relevant information about how and when users interact with their notifications. This data will help developers and marketers continue to refine their messaging campaigns and increase their read and engagement rates.

Overall, this is great news for Urban Airship and something we hotly anticipated. Our customers have already delivered roughly 4 Billion notifications, approximately 4% of all notifications sent by every app in the iOS ecosystem. This is double the percentage our customers had sent 12 months ago, proving that notifications are indeed benefitting apps.

We’re extremely excited to see the direction Apple is taking notifications and look forward to helping our customers take advantage of the improved experience.