Push Notifications

How Does iOS and Android Push Notification Service Work Technically?

Anjali Arya
February 27, 2024
Expert insights on push notifications: Understand iOS and android push notification service working, importance, & best practices for effective engagement. Learn now!

Push notifications have become an integral part of modern mobile application development, enabling businesses to directly engage with their users while enhancing customer experience and increasing conversion rates. With over 85% of smartphone users preferring apps that support push notifications, incorporating a reliable push notifications service into your app is no longer optional - it's essential. This guide covers everything you need to know about push notifications services and how they function. We will discuss the key players, technologies, benefits, challenges, and best practices for successful implementation.

Parties Involved in Sending Push Notifications:

Three main entities collaborate to facilitate push notifications:

  1. Operating System Push Notification Service (OSPNS) – Every mobile app platform, such as iOS and Android, hosts its own OSPNS designed specifically for delivering push notifications. Exemplified by Apple Push Notification service (APNs) and Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM), these platforms offer developers a secure means of connecting with mobile devices.
  2. App Publishers – Also known as developers, app publishers integrate OSPNS functionality during app development. Registration with each OS's push notification service grants access to the necessary APIs, ensuring seamless two-way communication between the app and the OSPNS.
  3. Client App – Installed on users' devices, this component receives and processes incoming push notifications according to user settings and device compatibility.

Understanding Push Notification Providers:

Push notification providers serve as intermediaries between app publishers and OSPNS, streamlining the push notification process. Benefits of employing a push provider include:

  • Simplified campaign management
  • Advanced analytics and reporting
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Scalability and redundancy

Popular push notification providers comprise Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), and SuprSend. While some publishers elect to self-host push notification infrastructure, third-party providers generally offer enhanced features, stability, and affordability.

Workings of Push Notifications in Major Operating Systems (iOS/ Android):


For iOS devices, push notifications involve the following steps:

  1. Developer registers an app with APNs using a p.12 SSL certificate.
  2. Upon user approval, the app establishes a persistent IP connection with APNs.
  3. The push provider transmits notifications to APNs, which subsequently relays them to targeted devices.


Android push notifications entail these stages:

  1. The developer creates a Firebase project, generating unique credentials required for FCM.
  2. Following integration with the app, the FCM SDK manages token generation and registration.
  3. The push provider conveys notifications to FCM servers, ultimately reaching designated devices.

Critical Considerations for Choosing a Push Notification Provider:

Selecting the ideal push notification provider requires careful evaluation. Assess prospective candidates against these criteria:

  • Ease of integration
  • Supported platforms and OS versions
  • Analytics and performance tracking
  • Customizability and flexibility
  • Cost structure and billing transparency
  • Security and privacy policies
  • Customer support quality and responsiveness

Best Practices for Implementing Push Notifications:

Optimizing push notifications necessitates adherence to industry guidelines and emerging trends. Keep these recommendations in mind:

  • Personalize messages using demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  • Employ contextual relevance based on user location, actions, and timing.
  • Use actionable language promoting immediate response.
  • Leverage visual elements like emojis and rich media to stand out.
  • Limit frequency to maintain user interest and avoid burnout.
  • Test variations to identify high-performing formats.
  • Monitor KPIs regularly, iterating as needed.


Integrating push notifications into your mobile app demands thorough consideration of underlying technologies, player roles, and best practices. Armed with knowledge and strategic planning, developers can unlock the full potential of push notifications, fostering meaningful user engagements and propelling long-term success. Remember to prioritize user experience above all else, catering to diverse preferences and expectations. Happy developing!


Q: What is a push notification service?

A push notification service is a system provided by mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android that enables mobile apps to send notifications to users' devices even when the app is not actively in use.

Q: How do iOS push notifications work?

iOS push notifications work by registering an app with Apple's Push Notification service (APNs) using a SSL certificate, establishing a persistent connection with APNs, and then transmitting notifications to APNs which delivers them to targeted iOS devices.

Q: How do Android push notifications function?

Android push notifications function by creating a Firebase project, integrating with the Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) SDK within the app for token generation and registration, and then conveying notifications to FCM servers which distribute them to designated Android devices.

Written by:
Anjali Arya
Product & Analytics, SuprSend

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