Push Notifications: The Future of the Mobile App?

Close up white smart watch

The push notification has become more prevalent than ever. From smart watches, which put a notification right on your wrist, to smart cars, which enable notifications in the car’s dashboard, we have more and more ways these days to receive information.

At one point in time, a company would have to email you – or even snail-mail you – for you to receive updated news or information about their business or services. It was Apple with the iPhone in 2009 that developed the idea of the “push” notification. Previously, phone applications relied on the “pull” notification, which required you, the user, to access the app yourself to receive information.

What is a push notification? Push notifications are a little different depending on whether you are using an Android phone or an iPhone. On an iPhone, the application’s server sends a notice to the Apple Push Notification service, which then forwards the message to the user’s phone. On an Android device, the process works similarly, but uses Android Cloud to Device Messaging. A push notification is then indicated on the user’s phone, either with a bubble above the app’s icon or with a notice in the top frame of the screen. Sometimes they can also be sent via SMS or text services, as well.

The push notification can be especially handy to remind yourself of an upcoming appointment or meeting. As devices get smarter and begin to interact more with each other, the possibilities are even greater. Imagine, for instance, a “smart” car that is connected to it’s own service records, and can deliver a push notification in your vehicle as a notice that is it due for service – or perhaps that it has already scheduled an appointment for service.

Push notifications simplify our life through technology. Quickit uses the push notification after you have scanned your ticket with the app. After you have paid your ticket, you will receive a push notification to your phone indicating when your payment has been received by the city or university. Or, if you can’t pay your ticket right away, opt-in to receive a push notification on your phone letting you know that the due date for the ticket is coming up. Using the convenience of the push notification could keep you from incurring an additional late fee on your parking ticket.

However, there is the possibility that as more applications begin to use push notifications to reach their users, we could experience “notification fatigue”. Thankfully many apps, including Quickit, will allow you to opt-out of receiving notifications if your phone or watch is getting a little too crowded.

Eventually, it may be possible that some apps exist entirely in the “notification” realm, without the need for you to go to the app to see status updates at all! So far, we have been accustomed to having an interface within an application that allows us to see the functions of the app. However, as it becomes easier to send and receive notifications, the idea of an app interface may disappear altogether. If Drupal founder Dries Buytaert thinks so, this is an idea worth looking at:

The current Web is “pull-based,” meaning we visit websites or download mobile applications. The future of the Web is “push-based,” meaning the Web will be coming to us. In the next 10 years, we will witness a transformation from a pull-based Web to a push-based Web. When this “Big Reverse” is complete, the Web will disappear into the background much like our electricity or water supply.

In the future, content, products and services will find you, rather than you having to find them. Puma will let us know to replace our shoes and Marriott will automatically present you room options if you missed your connecting flight. Instead of visiting a website, we will proactively be notified of what is relevant and asked to take action.

No matter the possibilities, there is no denying the usefulness of this latest development in tech. After all, who wouldn’t want to save money with the help of their smartphone?


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