iOS Push Notifications

Updated: December 15, 2023

This guide will walk you through what an iOS push notification service is, what they do, and why you should use them for your iOS app to give you the best possible chance of success.

iOS push notifications are an effective way for mobile apps to notify users of important events, new content, and updates. The notifications are highly customizable, allowing for the inclusion of text, images, and sounds.

Even when an app isn’t opened, push notifications can be sent to users, keeping them engaged and informed. They are an essential tool for maintaining user engagement and ensuring that your users remain up-to-date with the latest app developments.

An iOS push notification service itself enables your apps to send notifications, curate personalized messages, track engagement, and more. From limited-time deals to cart abandonment campaigns that boost your app retention and conversions, you’ll be able to send new messages with ease.

You can find the best iOS push notification services in our directory.

What is an iOS push notification?

An iOS push notification is a tool used by app developers to keep their users informed and engaged.

Notifications can be sent even when the app isn’t open and can include customized text, images, and even sounds. Push notifications are critical for app developers as they allow you to maintain your user engagement and keep users up to date.

iOS push notification service example

Source: Airship

There are several types of push notifications available that app developers can utilize. These include badges, alerts, and sound notifications. Badges are small, numbered icons that appear on the app’s icon to indicate the number of unread notifications.

Alerts are banner or pop-up notifications that appear on the user’s screen with customized text and (can) include sound. Sound notifications play a custom sound when the notification is received. There are also lock screen notifications that are viewable from the notification center. Triggers for notifications include specific user actions and those which are time-based in nature.

By utilizing push notifications, you’ll be able to communicate with your users and keep them engaged. That said, send too many notifications, and users will tune out. On the other hand, if you don’t send enough, they’ll forget about you. This is why push notification services are ideal.

What does an iOS push notification service do?

A push notification provider gives you a platform on which you can create, schedule, and deliver messages to your users as required, whether they’re using your app or not. Keep in mind that an iOS push notification service enables app developers to send push notifications to mobile users even when the app is closed.

Below we’ve listed some of the key features of push notification services.

Notification automation 

This is where you’ll be able to automate iOS push notifications. Some popular options here include setting up push notification campaigns through a service such as Braze or OneSignal, using a server-side solution like Firebase Cloud Messaging, or implementing in-app messaging with an SDK like Airship.

It’s important to consider your automation strategy to ensure that notifications stay relevant and remain valuable for your users.

Curate personalized messages 

This is where you can send targeted and curated push notifications that are more likely to resonate with each individual user. You can even employ in-app messaging to deliver personalized content and offers.

Be sure to use clear and concise language, and always provide value. By taking a personalized approach to your messaging strategy, you can significantly improve both engagement and retention rates.

iOS push notification service example

Source: Drift

Schedule notifications 

You’ll be able to schedule notifications for iPhone users using push notification services. On most platforms, it’s as simple as selecting the date and time you want the notification to be sent and then choosing the specific users you want to target based on their behavior and preferences.

By scheduling personalized notifications, you can increase engagement and retention rates for your app.

Track engagement and monitor open rates

This is where you’ll be able to track engagement and user interaction, monitor open rates for notifications, and analyze user behavior data. You’ll be able to understand how your users are interacting with your app and what types of notifications are the most effective overall.

By keeping track of these metrics, you can make informed decisions about how to improve your iOS notification strategy.

Why should you use push notification services for an iOS app?

Push notification services can be a highly effective way to engage with your iOS users. By using these services, you can keep users informed about important updates, promotions, and other relevant information, resulting in increased user engagement, retention, and, ultimately, revenue.

To ensure that your push notifications are effective, it’s important to closely analyze user behavior data and continually refine your notification strategy. With the right approach, push notifications can be a powerful tool for driving user engagement and growing your app’s success.

Higher engagement rate 

You’ll be able to increase user engagement for your iOS app by keeping your users informed. Engagement rate refers to the level of interaction and involvement users have with your iOS app.

This includes actions such as opening the app, using its features, and providing feedback. By increasing user engagement, you can boost retention rates and drive revenue growth. Push notifications can be an effective way to encourage user engagement, as they provide timely and relevant updates that keep users engaged.

User retention 

User retention refers to the number of users who continue to use your iOS app over a specified period. By increasing user retention through iOS push notification services, you can ensure that your app remains relevant and useful to your target audience.

This can also be achieved by improving the overall user experience, providing regular updates and new features.

iOS push notification service example

Source: MagicBell

Wider reach

Using iOS push notification services will allow you to expand the reach of your mobile app, helping you to attract new users and retain existing ones. You can also optimize your push notifications for maximum impact (and relevance).

Boost CTR with customized content 

You’ll be able to boost your click-through rate (known as CTR) by creating customized content that is tailored to the interests and behaviors of your target audience. This can help increase engagement and drive more traffic to your app.

You can also experiment with different types of content, such as images, videos, or interactive features, to see what resonates best with your users.

What is Apple Push Notification Service (APNs)?

The Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) is a service provided by Apple that enables app developers to send push notifications to iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads.

These notifications can be used to alert users of new content, updates, or other important information related to their apps. The service helps to increase user engagement and retention by keeping users informed and connected to their favorite apps.

iOS push notification service example

Source: Pushbullet

APNs was introduced with iOS 2 as a way for third-party apps to send notifications–it’s a secure and highly effective service that app developers can make good use of.

How do I set up iOS push notifications?

It’s not as complicated as you may first think. App developers can set up iOS push notifications by registering their app and configuring the necessary settings in the Apple Developer Portal.

You’ll need to create a certificate for the app and enable push notifications in the app’s capabilities. Once these steps are completed, you can then implement the necessary code to handle push notifications. Be aware that the specific implementation will vary depending on the programming language and development environment being used. From there, the rest is relatively straightforward.


Once the above steps are complete, you can implement the necessary code in your app to handle push notifications using Swift.

To set up iOS notifications with Swift, follow these simple steps:

  1. Enable “Push Notifications” in your app capabilities
  2. Request user permission to receive notifications using the UNUserNotificationCenter
  3. Register for remote notifications in your AppDelegate’s application:didFinishLaunchingWithOptions: method
  4. Implement the UNUserNotificationCenterDelegate to handle notification events
  5. Create a notification request with content and a trigger, and add it to the notification center

Swift is a programming language developed by Apple for creating apps for the iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS platforms. It’s a popular language among iOS developers due to its simplicity, safety, and speed.

iOS push notification platform website screenshot

Source: Firebase


Xcode is an integrated development environment (known as IDE) for macOS that is used to develop software for iOS. It includes a suite of software development tools and features, such as a code editor, debugger, interface builder, performance analyzer, and more. App developers can use Xcode to create, test, and deploy apps for Apple devices.

To set up push notifications in iOS using Xcode, you’ll need to first create an Apple Developer account. From there, you can create a Certificate Signing Request (known as a CSR) and upload it to the Apple Developer portal to create a push notification certificate. You’ll need to configure your app in Xcode to enable push notifications and upload the certificate.

Finally, you can test push notifications on a physical device (or simulator). It’s important to follow the instructions carefully to ensure push notifications are set up correctly in your iOS app.

Testing your iOS app with Firebase

To test your iOS app with Firebase, follow the steps below:

  1. Create a new Firebase project and add your iOS app to it
  2. Download the GoogleService-Info.plist file and add it to your Xcode project
  3. Install the Firebase SDK for iOS using CocoaPods or manually add the framework
  4. Import the Firebase module in your app delegate file
  5. Initialize Firebase in your AppDelegate’s application:didFinishLaunchingWithOptions: method
  6. Enable Firebase Analytics, Crashlytics, and other features you want to use
  7. Finally, use the Firebase console to test your iOS app and view the analytics data

Work with the best iOS push notification services

By working with a high-quality iOS push notification service, you can ensure that your app’s notifications are delivered reliably and efficiently.

Push notifications can help increase user engagement, app retention, and revenue. By sending timely and relevant notifications, app developers can keep users informed and interested in their app, leading to increased usage and more in-app purchases. For users themselves, push notifications can provide valuable updates, reminders, and alerts, making their app experience more convenient and enjoyable.

With the right iOS push notification service, developers can leverage the power of push notifications to enhance their app and take it to the next level. Check out our list of the best iOS push notification services below.

List of top push notifications services for iOS

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