Mobile Apps · Mobile Software Development

What push notification service for a real time messaging app?

Tessa Cook Co Founder & CEO at OLIO

October 21st, 2015

Currently using Ionic's push notifications for our app (OLIO, The Food Sharing Revolution), however finding that it's really unreliable. We need notifications & red badges that work reliably and are capable of customisation and segmentation, and backed up with a good analytics tool. Looking at AWS SNS, but keen for feedback from product/tech/founders who have experience in this! Thanks


October 21st, 2015

Urban airship is the original

Mikko Koppanen Senior Technologist

October 21st, 2015

Hello Tessa,

How are you sending the push notifications? Are they purely based on backend system events or are you also sending separate campaigns? What is the real-time part of your app?

I would recommend taking a look at We are currently using them for majority of our push notifications and they provide both API and UI for sending notifications. As with anything it takes a bit integration into your app.

As for badges: the badge handling and the reliability of it depends more on your app rather than the push notification provider. For example for iOS the push notification just needs to contain a value containing the "unread count" but your app needs to decide when to decrement that number and when to clear the badge.

Hope this helps,

Spokey Wheeler Director at Zinaida Ltd

October 21st, 2015

Hi Tessa,

Another option you might find useful is Push Technologies:

They have a cloud-based service that you can use very cost-effectively (called

However, there may be a need to re-structure how you handle your app, but if you're expecting high user counts, lots of activity or both, then it may well be a good way forward.

Hope it helps!

Stan Podolski CEO at Nimble Aircraft.

October 21st, 2015

I would just use near real time framework and make real-time notifications an integral part of an app. It is kinda easy these days, there is no need for 3rd party services. 
Meteor is just one of those frameworks

Ivo Jansch CEO / Co-founder at Egeniq and Buildozer

October 21st, 2015

Push is by definition unreiable. Neither apple nor google guarantee delivery. This means that any service built on top (sns) s at least as unreliable.

You mention the word real time so I'm insing most of the pushes happen when inside the app. To do reliable messaging there look at solutions such as PubNub

Michael Laiken

October 22nd, 2015

I agree with Ivo in that no push service is 100% reliable. The problem is that whatever service you use has to relay the data to Apple or google for final delivery and they do not make any type of service level guarantees. If you need more reliability you would want to use a service like pusher, pub nub, fire base, erc. I hope this helps. Just FYI those services are much more expensive than push notifications but if you need the added reliability that is the way to go. 

Chetan Patel CEO at SmartApp mobile application & custom software solutions

October 24th, 2015

For real time chat messenger we suggest to use node.js as back-end web-services and create push notification using the same. 

Ankur Jain Vice President of Technology at a Startup

October 25th, 2015

You mentioned "Real time messaging app". I hope you are not using "push notifications" as the design to send messages because as Ivo and Michael have mentioned, they are unreliable and not real time. You need to use a cloud based real time service like PubNub, Pusher, etc. or make one of your own for an actual 'real time' end user experience (< 10 seconds delays, may be even better).

I use PubNub for realtime messaging for my app. Its practically real time and serves the purpose while the app is open. 

But what happens if the app is not running (in the background or as a service or in foreground). Ideally,  it should always be running and always be connected but that may not be feasible all the time. In such a case, it makes sense to use push notifications so that at the very least, the phone shows a notification to the user about the arrival of some new unread message tempting him/her to open the app. For only this scenario, Push notifications make sense in a real time app. Now for this, while you can use any push notification service as mentioned above by others, in case you are using PubNub, you can use their own Push Notification add on service. 

From what I have understood (I still need to implement this functionality in my app, hence no actual experience with this), using PubNub's push notification add-on along with PubNub for real time messaging will only send push notifications to those devices which are not connected with PubNub's backend (and hence won't be able to get the message in real time.). Exactly the situation in which Push notifications are needed for real time apps. 

Jason DeMorrow Senior Software Engineer at, Inc.

October 25th, 2015

I've used PushWoosh ( with good results. It was relatively cheap to get up and running with them if your push volumes are low.

Christopher McLain Looking for co-founder for 2FA company

October 26th, 2015

If I were you I'd look at Google Cloud Messaging first, since it's free and built by some of the smartest people around.  It's fairly easy to incorporate and there's tons of online help available if you have trouble setting it up.

Also, this is off topic, but your site is giving me this error when I navigate to it (using Chrome):
Attackers might be trying to steal your information from (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards).