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

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

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

  1. I dismissed my first two push notifications instead of tapping on the box – is there anyway to get back to the promo codes to use them?
    I still have notifications on, but when I go to the Moms with Apps app, I don’t see any notifications or codes.
    Thanks for any help!
    — Jackie

  2. The notification badges come through on my iPad, but it is when the iPad is idle and the screen is locked. Nothing happens when I tap the badge because of the screen being locked, but after unlocking the screen the badge disappears… so I cant get to the codes. Is this a setting?

  3. I really appreciate your website–I teach severly impaired elem students and I’m out of the “mom” loop–my children are adults. SO–I’ve been tapping the numbers on the push-notification but don’t get to a site. Help!

  4. I have my push notifications on and got the notification this morning. The problem was that I tried to redeem one and it was gone. Then I had to go see a kiddo and when the session was over couldn’t figure out how to get back to the notification. Let me know if you have suggestions on how to get back to it.

  5. Hi All, Lorraine here. I’ve received further clarification from Andrew and will update the post accordingly. There is not a manual way to get back to the list of codes, they are only available through that first instant of accessing the Push Notification through the app. What happens is that the codes are redeemed so quickly (we had 250 redeemed in 14 seconds this morning) that it would cause redundancy to put them up manually. So it’s a quick opportunity – if you get the notification and see the codes – that means there are codes left to redeem. If you pick up the notification some time later, the likliehood is that the codes have already been redeemed which is why you can’t access the page. So no access to the page = no codes left, which by design is intended to eliminate guesswork for the end user.

  6. My problem is, the gadget I read moms with apps on ( my phone) is not the gadget I put kiddy apps on (an iTouch nobody in the family needed after upgrading all the grown ups phones). So I got a free app this morning. Not sure if I want anything to do with Zombies for my 4 year old, and it’s on the wrong gadget!

    I’ll figure it out, one day.

  7. I tried to redeem immediately this evening – I had the phone in my hand when the notice came thru & I got the message that the offer had expired (or something worded similar to that).

  8. Had same problem about hitting notification. I tapped it as soon as it came up. Got to redeem box on app store and itjust closed out. My iPad periodically does that not sure it was a used code or my iPad just closed out. Hopefully there is a way to improve that … Not sure

  9. Love the concept, but so far have been unable to redeem any of the codes. I get a message saying offer has expired or uncompatible with this device. I am using iPad. When I try it on my iPhone I get the message code has already been used.

    Am I doing something wrong?

  10. Appreciate the offers, but for us folks that work it’s not possible to redeem immediately. Maybe a different set up would be better.

  11. @momagain if it’s the zombie’s one it’s “literacy vs. zombies” and it’s a literacy app for pre-readers, so it may be OK for your 4yo. Also, once you download an app using your iTunes password, that app can be used across your devices. @Mary @Jenna, sounds like the codes were gone too fast. @Gadgetgirl, thanks for leaving that comment – promo codes are platform dependent (iPhone v iPad) when downloaded from a device vs. downloaded from iTunes on your computer. So there is going to be a chance of incompatibility based on which platform the promo code is for vs. which platform you are using to redeem the code. Let me do some homework on this.

  12. Let me just start by saying how much I love moms with apps! Its a great concept and very helpful when I am looking for an age appropriate app for my 4 year old daughter. I check it daily!

    Last nite, I was lucky enough to redeem 5 codes! I also got alot of “expired codes” while trying to redeem them and I tried immediately when the push notification came through. How could they already be expired when it just came through? I was really surprised at how many of them were expired (i would estimate close to half) I hope this is fixed for the next push notification.

    As I mentioned before, I was able to redeem 5 codes and I was SUPER excited!!! After I finally gave up on trying to get more codes and thought they must be all gone, I went to go find my new free apps. First, let me just say I really appreciate the free apps and agree with moms with apps that sometimes we need to try an app without being swayed by things like price or if / how many stars it has (hence why u get a random code and no other information). With that being said, I was really bummed that all 5 of the apps I got for free were all in Spanish and nobody in my family speaks Spanish. I redeemed my codes from various parts of the list last night and not all together. Were all the apps in Spanish? I really want to try  new apps but I’m not able to use any of the ones I got last night. Did anyone experience something similar? I hope there will be more language  varieties in future push notifications.

    Aside from that, thank you moms with apps for everything !! You’re still one of my favorite apps! 

  13. @Wanda, you’re quite right, this promotion is really geared towards immediate use of the app and doesn’t work so well if we can’t redeem right away. I’d steer you towards App Fridays, which give you 24 hours to act, or our Facebook Page (although that one is getting quicker and quicker also). And if you ever have any specific needs or requests, reach out directly to me at lorraineakemann@gmail.com.

    @Jessica, whoa, I really appreciate you taking the time to document your experience. OK, so what I see happening is potentially two things: 1) There was an iTunes snafu in March when some of these codes were pulled, so yes there could be some dud codes in there – it’s hard to tell until you go through the “redeem” process. Given that you’ve taken the time to write, I have your email address and will follow up with some legit codes for you for your trouble. 2) It’s up to the developers in the group which codes they pull – and we are trying to encourage that they donate codes from their more popular apps. Sounds like we need to encourage a little harder.

    Jessica & Wanda, I’m logging off to send you an email now, that feedback was solid. Thank you. –Lorraine

  14. I’ve tried to redeem a code but am always too late even when I try as soon as the notification goes up. Is there a way to go back and try for another code or it this a one time try with each batch of codes.

    Thanks for doing this. It’s kind of fun trying to get there in time!

    Love moms with apps!!! Have gotten some great apps for my students.

  15. I got a couple each night. At work all day so no opportunity to get any then. The first night I got Spanish ones. disappointing but I think the actual math problems will be usable with my students. Tonight I clicked and most were already gone even though I immediately tried. iTunes said it was redeeming several but then I only had one actually downloading. it was disappointing to see that! Oh well, I appreciate the one that did download.

  16. Me again. I just wanted to say that I’m having the same problem as lendywu. I’ve got my iPad sitting right next to me, the notification comes through, but my screen is locked and when I unlock it the notification is gone. =( I have to have a fast screen lock time because I use this for work and we have to meet HIPAA requirements so I can’t just turn that off. Any ideas?! Hate that I’m missing out on all these apps that could be so great for the kids I work with!

  17. I love this idea of App Discovery Week!
    I guess the codes must go REALLY fast, because I just got a notification, clicked on it, and it took me to a screen that said all the promo codes were gone for the day. Literally like 1 second later?? Or I am probably doing something wrong. ;-p Oh well.

  18. Next you try this is there a way to post at least the device and age group. The first 3 codes I got were for iPad, and the one I got was for 6th grade vocabulary. If I could have scrolled to a pre k or sped list It would be a bit better. I have a few of ideas on how to make the work better, but don’t have the time to type it out.

  19. @All, yes the codes are going faster as the week goes on. Thursday, 500 codes went in 6 seconds, so depending on how quick even your device is, it can make a difference. Lots of lessons learned all around this week, so thanks again for logging feedback.

    Meantime, don’t miss the McGraw Hill Math apps that are free on itunes (so no need to be so quick) until April 16th, here is one of them: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/everyday-mathematics-tric/id413520637?mt=8.

  20. The push notification worked great and I was already holding my iPad. I got one app for baby care. A few others said I could redeem them, but I didn’t get the codes. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough for it to download? Others were already redeemed. The frustrating part was getting several messages that the code didn’t work with my device. For future great giveaways like this, maybe iPad redeem buttons could be a different color? Thanks for the opportunity.

  21. During the second round yesterday, I got Henry Goes Camping, a sweet book that my grandson loves. Thanks again to everyone who makes this possible.

  22. Hi Toni, Go to Settings > Notifications > and go through your apps to make sure nothing is in notification center, and if so, turn it to off. Email me at lorraineakemann@gmail.com if you have more questions.

  23. Not all Push Notifications are bad.
    If the publisher is considering his users, the messages will be at the right time (considering the time zone) and the right context.

    the best thing for the publisher is to let his users to decide which push notifications they would like to get. that way the push become from “we’d like to tell you that…” to “You asked us to tell you…”

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