Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Push Notifications to Mobile Devices Using Amazon SNS

Does your mobile app keep on running in the cloud, even when the associated smartphone or tablet is closed? If so, you might want to proactively provide your customers with useful information. For example, a traffic app can warn of heavy traffic and a slow commute, allowing the user to arrive in time for their first meeting of the day.

Push notifications are short, alert-style messages you can send to users even when they are not actively using your app. The experience is similar to SMS, but it costs much less because it uses Wi-Fi or cellular data. Users can choose to acknowledge a push notification to launch your app and see more information.

Implementing push notifications can be tricky, especially when you target multiple platforms such as iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. Many customers do it by integrating directly with the push relay services that Amazon, Apple, and Google provide for their devices. These services each use different, platform-specific APIs, and you have to manage things like token updates or token invalidation by the services, along with token feedback when users upgrade their devices or delete your app. Also, the nature of mobile app distribution is such that successful apps can become popular almost overnight. Scaling quickly from zero to millions of devices, and tens of millions of daily notifications, can be challenging.

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