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Using mobile push notifications in cloud development

Mobile push notifications are being used by organizations for everything from marketing to informing people of emergencies.

Mobile push notifications can be useful for everything from alerting people of an emergency to engaging with consumers. Building a long-lasting relationship with people can be achieved with the right messages deployed on the right platform, according to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Principal Product Manager Paul Duffy.

Some organizations are going to the cloud to help manage messages and ensure timely distribution to subscribers and other applications. As with any system change, many software developers have faced hurdles with their attempts to work with and support mobile push notifications.

In this Q&A, Duffy expounds on mobile push notifications and what software professionals need to keep in mind when working with the technology.

Why do you think supporting mobile push notifications has been so difficult for app developers?

Paul Duffy Paul Duffy

Paul Duffy: Various mobile platforms offer a free relay service that delivers notifications via persistent connections to devices running the platforms they own. These services are free in the sense that the platform owners do not charge for them. However, for mobile developers, supporting millions of users and multiple platforms introduces operational complexity and cost. Often, use cases require an intermediary application to manage tokens, queue outgoing messages and abstract platform-specific APIs.

What are some of the drawbacks to developers building their own push services?

Duffy: Many developers build and maintain their own intermediary applications, but have told us that this approach can be challenging and prone to errors. Other developers use a third-party push notification integrator to provide easy ways to build once and push to multiple platforms, but these often come with larger price tags.

How does using a cross-platform API simplify mobile app development?

Duffy: Having a single cross-platform API lets developers address their customers according to the logic that makes the most sense, without having to separately address groups that happen to choose different devices. At a technical level, developers need to write separate logic to interact with each mobile push service, because push notifications work differently on each mobile platform, with different APIs and different features supported.

What advice do you have for developers tasked with migrating from a legacy mobile push notifications system?

Duffy: Developers tell us that migrations are tough to prioritize, particularly when the legacy component isn't broken. At the same time, managing and scaling a legacy notification service requires an ongoing investment of developer time. So the migration effort will quickly pay for itself in terms of freed up developer time.

What advice do you have for developers getting ready to implement their first mobile notification system?

Duffy: Customers tell us that push notifications are best viewed as a part of the customer experience, not simply as a promotional tool. It's important to engage customers positively, given that industry data shows that a large percentage of apps are abandoned within 90 days after they are first downloaded. Customers can use mobile push notifications to engage their customers even when their app is not currently active. The right messages, to the right users, at the right times, will extend the app experience and help to build lasting customer relationships.

Editor's note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Maxine Giza is the associate site editor for SearchSOA and can be reached at

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Have you worked with mobile push notifications?
yes, using integrated library management system to notify library users (students, researchers and teaching academics) about the arrival of new materials, book reservations as well as notify them on due dates. this is an amazing aspect of innovative technology, which is engaging users with vital and critical notification. i so love it.
Hi Jakobina, Thanks for sharing how you use push notifications. It really is amazing how many different uses there are for the technology.