Devices operating on android receive push notifications through Google Cloud Messaging Service (GSM), and devices operating Apple iOS receive them through Apple Push Notification Service (APN). Both of these act as a store and forward type of service where they receive a message from a third party, identify the recipient and pass the information along. The way these notifications are received by sound, alert etc is a combinations of options set in the application code upon registration as well as the user’s device settings. Even after having such similarities these two services aren’t exactly the same , they differ in terms of the size of the payload that can be sent , certificates required etc.
After briefly explaining the basic concept, we will further your understanding of the concept, taking each case individually:
For iOS :
Firstly the major and the obvious difference, push notifications are different from local notifications; they are sent by a third party server informing the user of a particular thing. Whereas, the local notifications are scheduled by the application and run on the device itself without any server interaction. You may receive push notifications over the server by many clients such as Facebook, Wordfeud, Words with Friends etc. To users both local and push notifications may appear the same, both of them pop up and make sound alerts
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but, both these are vastly different in development purpose.
- Upon launch, the device/application communicates with the APNS to authorize receiving of the notifications.
- The server at Apple responds with a unique token that
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must be used in all future communiqués later for receiving push notifications.
- The application sends the token to a third party server that will store it for later events when the application needs to be notified.
First the application needs to be enabled for push notifications through the Apple iOS Provision Portal and app id “com.mysite.myapp” and signed with a provisioning profile that includes the push enabled application identifier. When the App ID is configured through the portal , a wizard will prompt you to create an SSL certificate that will be associated with your App ID and used for that purpose. Having the association with the App ID ensures security.
Now we will cover Android push notifications with PhoneGap, we ascertained that we got notifications working much faster on Android comparatively. Here the notifications are available through GCM service viz. similar to APNS. The message size allowed on GCM is 4kb (only string data), noticeably bigger than its Apple counterpart .
- GCM gives no guarantees of the delivery and the order of the messages.
- The application on the Android device need not be running to receive messages. The system automatically wakes up the application via Intent broadcast when the message arrives.
The PhoneGap plugin includes a sample project already setup to register for push notifications including the AndroidManifest.xml changes and plugin configuration. All that needs to be done is to edit the CORDOVA_GCM_script.js file to use your GCM sender/project id in the register() function and you can run it immediately or use this project as a reference while making the changes to your own.