What Are Push Notifications (and how do I turn them on or off?) – Plus details on App Discovery Week

by Moms With Apps on April 11, 2011

This week from April 11th to 15th, Andrew from BabyBinks (the developer of our Moms With Apps Mobile App) is distributing volumes of promotional codes for family-friendly apps through “App Discovery Week”. He is using a feature called “push notifications” to distribute the codes. Andrew’s blog post shares the details of App Discovery Week.

Given this promotion is using push notifications, I thought this would an appropriate time to discuss them in case you had questions about how they work, or how to adjust the settings on your iPhone or iPad.

Apple’s Push Notification feature was enabled in iOS 3.0. It is a way for an app to send information to your phone (via a badge, alert, or pop up message) even when the app isn’t in use. For example, if you have a sports app with push notifications enabled, that app can send you the latest score of your favorite team even if the app isn’t running. The notification will send you a message, and when you touch it, it will direct you back to the app for more information.

But ultimately, YOU, the user, are in charge of what notifications you do, or don’t, receive. So let’s review how you can control these alerts.

  • Find out which apps offer push notifications on your iDevice by going to SETTINGS on your iPhone or iPad. Once in SETTINGS, click NOTIFICATIONS (red dot).

  • Here, with one touch, you can turn on or off ALL of your notifications via the ON or OFF button.

  • Underneath, you can see all of the apps that offer a push notification service.
  • If you have downloaded the Moms With Apps Mobile App Catalog, you will see the green hand icon in your list of apps.
  • Within each app, there are three options for notifications: Sounds, Alerts, Badges. If you need you phone to be silent, make sure “Sounds” is OFF. If you’d like to view the alerts, make sure “Alerts” is ON. Whatever you do, make sure it’s right for your specific needs and environment.

How does this relate to App Discovery Week?

To take advantage of App Discovery Week, your notifications for the Moms With Apps ALERTS will need to be ON. When you receive push notifications via a text bubble that pops up on your iPhone or iPad, tapping on it should take you to a page in the app with a list of promo codes. Here is how it works:

  • When you see a push notification come up on your iPhone or iPad from Moms With Apps, tap on it.
  • If there are still codes left from that batch, it will take you to a page within the app where you can “redeem” the code, and will direct the user to the App Store for the free download.
  • If there are NO CODES LEFT from that batch, clicking on it will do nothing. For example, if the push notification was sent out at 8:00am, and you saw it at 9:00am, chances are, the codes were already redeemed (we had 250 codes redeemed in 14 seconds on Monday morning). In that case, clicking on the bubble will NOT take you to a page in the app, because there is nothing left to redeem.
  • To answer the questions in comments of this blog post, there is no manual way to access that “page” of redeemable codes. It’s a one-time opportunity each time the push notification is sent.
  • There are no descriptions next to the codes (hence, the “discovery” part of the promotion). Andrew explains this intention in his blog post, in addition to his contact details on Facebook and Twitter so you have some idea when notifications are being distributed throughout the week.

This is the first time we’ve run something like this, so we’ll need to see how it works out. I’ll monitor comments throughout the week, so please leave a comment if you have a question, concern, or idea. Thanks!

Lorraine Akemann, Editor, Moms With Apps

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