Push notifications may have grown up on mobile apps. But now the Web is making a comeback because of a push notification innovation introduced by Apple through Safari Mavericks.
Perhaps no other brand understands the power of push notifications as well as Apple, thanks to privileged place of push within the iOS ecosystem. Push notifications are the most critical engagement tool for mobile apps. They serve as a necessary conduit in the flourishing app economy, where iOS remains the prettiest girl in the room.
Push on the desktop, however, is once again making the desktop and the desktop Web browser more relevant to people's lives and their workflows. Because of that, warring standards are already beginning to emerge, though Apple holds the early lead.
How Web Push Works on Desktop
Apple's implementation of push for the Web offers a remarkable user experience. When a visitor lands on a website enabled with Safari’s push technology, they are greeted with a simple dialog that closely mirrors the mobile push experience. The visitor can then opt-in to receive notifications from that site.
As with mobile app push, the user simply declares "Don’t Allow" or "Allow." For those choose "Allow," a direct channel of communication is established between the site and the visitor. Here's what that looks like:
Allow or do not allow—that is the question
When the site sends a notification to its push audience, it will appear in the upper right side of the monitor, as shown in the image below. If the user clicks the notification, a Safari tab opens to the URL associated with the notification.
For instance, The Mac Observer's push notifications let you know when new articles have been published. When you click on a notification, you get taken straight to that article.
The notifications themselves have an ephemeral quality, appearing in the monitor for only a few seconds. Messages that are not clicked are archived in the Notification Center for later viewing. Apple’s current implementation archives the most recent six unread messages.
The Developing Standard
Chrome, Firefox and IE, by contrast, are building to the W3C standard. While there is some wisdom in this, there is also some risk. With Apple’s keen focus on integration, their solution is a seamless presentation. This may be more of a challenge for Google and Mozilla, where separate teams control distinct moving parts of the push system.
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