OpenBack Whitepaper - Reliability in Push Notifications (Delivery & Metrics)

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Last update: July 2019

2 mins to read

Push Notifications and Battery Life… Can They Coexist?

Anyone who owns a smartphone – particularly an iPhone – knows the daily struggle of keeping your battery charged. In fact, the more apps you use and the more capabilities your phone has, the faster your battery will die. Of course, you could just use your phone for communication and nothing else to maximize your battery life… but where’s the fun in that?

Phones are much more than a glorified inbox. They are our entertainment consoles, our tools for expressing ourselves to the world, our pocket-sized boom-boxes and cinema screens. In many ways, our phones have become our identities, and the panic many of us feel when our battery meter reaches the single digits is very real. 

There are plenty of ways to get around a failing iPhone battery that won’t impinge on user experience. For a few, easy tips, take a look at this Livewire article.

Notifications and Battery Life – How To Slow the Drain

Push notifications are notorious for putting an extra drain on battery life, and this has been used as an argument against opting in to receive them. And in scenarios where notifications are poorly written or not tailored to a user’s needs or interests, it may indeed seem like slap in the face to be spammed with useless messages which sap your battery power. The diagram below illustrates how this happens:

diagram of how push notifications wake up radio
Image Source: https://www.bignerdranch.com/blog/optimize-battery-life-with-androids-gcm-network-manager/

Each time the network radio wakes up from standby results in a costly drain on battery power. And if multiple network requests happen separately, the radio has to wake up from standby for each request. One method of minimizing battery drain can be to wake up the radio in batches, instead of one at a time. However, this only works if the data will be required in the near future, and not immediately.

Device manufacturers are stepping up to address this issue, but this can clash with the deliverability of push notifications. In response to user complaints, Android upgraded its operating system to increase battery life. Their answer to the notification/battery problem is to simply not show notifications for apps that haven’t been active in a while, unless the user goes into settings to opt-in. 

Clearly, this is a pain for the developers of both apps and push notification platforms – and could even cause problems for users who might miss some important information in the form of an undelivered push notification. However, no one could seriously think that push notifications should be prioritized at the expense of robust battery life. After all, how will you read those crucial snippets of content from your favorite apps if they have cannibalized your phone’s juice? Luckily, OpenBack’s push notification platform offers the best of both worlds.

Battery goes from empty to full

OpenBack’s Unique, Device-Side Architecture

OpenBack nips the problem of battery drain through excessive radio awakenings in the bud. The OpenBack SDK is built to bypass third-party cloud servers entirely. Not only does this do away with data privacy risks, but in the case of battery life, it means that there is no need to continually wake up the radio. 

OpenBack bounces the push token directly back to the app, rather than storing in the backend server. OpenBack then sends the app a silent push to let it know when there is a message that needs to be collected. Thus, the app itself has the authority over when to send out a push notification, rather than having to fire up the radio to receive a communique from the backend server.

OpenBack proves that battery efficiency and reliable push notifications don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And as devices evolve to put the users’ needs first, it becomes more obvious than ever that the old “tried and true” methods of moving push tokens and user data between devices, backend servers, and global push delivery services are outdated.

OpenBack gives the structure of push notification delivery a much-needed recalibration, and manages to address multiple problems with one key change: battery life, notification deliverability, and data security.

Visit our website to learn more about OpenBack’s groundbreaking product, or contact one of our experts if you have a question.

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