Android Push Notifications

Push notifications are great. They keep users engaged with your app. They provide real-time interaction. They enable cool social features like chat.

Push notifications can also be incredibly annoying. If you want your app to work seamlessly across iPhone and Android, you have to build two separate systems. They can be complicated to set up. And of course, if you don’t have a server set up already, you’ll have to deal with deployment, maintenance, and just writing all that server code.

At Parse, we want to take all of that pain, solve it, and provide you with a nice, clean API that just works.

Today we’re announcing our support for Android Push Notifications! Now a single API call can send push notifications seamlessly to both iPhone and Android clients.

If you’re not in the private beta yet, please sign up here and we’ll get you in as soon as we can.

What Push Notifications Can Do

We think we’ve built the absolute easiest way to get started with push notifications. If you can’t start sending push notifications in literally one minute and thirty seconds, let us know because we’re not doing our job right.

It’s just one line of code to let a user subscribe to push notifications, and then you can send push notifications either from our web form or by a REST api call. Our system isn’t dependent on C2DM, so it works on Android 1.5, 1.6, and 2.1, and doesn’t require a user to have an active Google account. To get started, check out our Android Push Notifications Guide.

The Android push API supports the same granular features as our iOS api. With channels, you can control exactly which clients receive a push notification. You can also control whether a notification goes out to iOS users, Android users, or both, making it easy to target marketing messages or any platform-specific message.

Feedback

We are champing at the bit to listen to your feedback. Don’t be reluctant to send it in. Even the smallest typo, we want to fix it and make our product better. Let us know what you think.

Kevin Lacker
July 25, 2011

User Accounts

Today, we’re releasing our system for user accounts for your iOS app (with Android coming soon). Using the Parse SDK, you can now add user accounts to your application in minutes.

As always, if you’re not in the private beta yet, please sign up here and we’ll get you started right away.

Fully Featured User Accounts

With our user system, your app users will be able to securely sign up with a username and password, and later be able to login with those same credentials. Some features include:

  • The ability to associate objects to your users, thus allowing object ownership.
  • Secure password storage — we never store plain-text passwords, nor do we ever send passwords directly to users.
  • Session storage so your users won’t need to log in if they’ve recently logged in.
  • Password reset functionality through email.
  • Easy management of users through our Data Browser.
  • Automatic uniqueness constraints so that user accounts won’t collide.

Best of all, you get all of these features out of the box with just a few lines of Objective C code. To learn more, take a look at the users section in our iOS guide. Also, be on the lookout for the Android version coming soon!

Examples

The addition of user accounts opens up a whole host of possibilities for apps powered by Parse. Some examples include:

  • A message board system where users post messages in their neighborhood.
  • A dating app that lets users connect with potential dates.
  • A reviews app that lets users rate and discuss movies.
  • A group mobile blogging app that lets users collaborate on posts.

Feedback

Parse loves feedback. Let us know what you think of our push support and
what you’d like to see in the future at Parse Help & Community.

James Yu
July 20, 2011

Channels and Targeted Push Notifications

As promised, we’re back with more push functionality for your apps! Today we’re announcing channels as well as two ways to send targeted push notifications.

Channels

Channels are a flexible way to send push notifications to segments of your users. Channels don’t need to be explicitly created and apps can subscribe to a channel with just one line of code!

Here are some great examples of how apps can use channels:

  • A sports scores app might have a channel for each team so that it can send scores to a team’s fans whenever a game ends.
  • A group chat app might have a channel for each group so that it can send messages whenever someone chats in the group.
  • A travel app might have have a channel for each flight so that it can send flight delays to users on each flight.
  • A chess game app might have a channel for each match so that it can send messages when a move is made.
  • Most apps might find it useful to have a channel for each user so that they can send messages to a user across all their devices and have users follow others in the app.

Get all the details on channels in our guide.

Sending Targeted Push Notifications

Parse now has two ways to send targeted push notifications to your users via channels.

The first option is to use the new methods in our client library to send directly from within your app. Again, it’s just one line of code so go forth and integrate group chat into your applications with ease!

The second option is to use our JSON-based API to send notifications from your command line, your scripts, or wherever you please. We’ve made the API as simple as can be. Just POST a single JSON object to our servers and we take care of the rest.

Check out more about both options in our guide.

In both cases we handle all of the interaction with Apple’s servers so you don’t have to worry about the binary interface, the feedback service, packaging your notifications, or any of the complexities in the process.

Android & Feedback

Keep an eye out for Android push notifications coming up very soon.

We’d love to hear from you. Tell us what you want Parse to have next!

Ilya Sukhar
July 18, 2011

iOS Push Notifications

We speak with mobile developers daily and we consistently hear about how painful it is to use push notifications. We’re here to make it much easier.

Whether you’re struggling with talking to Apple’s binary server interface, keeping sockets open in your Android app, or any other number of things — don’t worry! We’ll take care of it.

Today we’re announcing our initial support for iOS Push Notifications!

Although iOS beat Android out of the gates, keep an eye out as Android
support is coming very soon.

As always, if you’re not in the private beta yet, please sign up here and we’ll get you started right away.

Broadcast Push Notifications

Parse now supports broadcasting push notifications to all users of your
iOS applications. You can use Push Broadcasts to:

  • increase engagement and drive users back to the app
  • announce a new feature or game level
  • run a sale on in-app purchases
  • instruct users to update their apps
  • cross-promote other apps
  • send app-specific news like sports scores or bulletins

Use it for marketing, use it for communication, use it for whatever you’d like. We’ll take care of the details including clear step-by-step instructions on how to get your app integrated.

Here’s what the interface looks like:

Get started with push notifications today by following the instructions in our iOS Guide.

Targeted Push Notifications

Parse supports the notion of channels for sending push notifications to a subset of your users. Channels
are anything you want them to be. They can correspond to chat rooms,
locations, sports teams, news stories, game sessions, etc. In fact, the broadcast feature mentioned above simply sends a push notification to the
default channel for your app.

Our API’s for targeted push notifications are almost ready. Keep an eye
out for another blog post with all the details!

Feedback

Parse loves feedback. Let us know what you think of our push support and
what you’d like to see in the future at Help & Community.

Ilya Sukhar
July 15, 2011

The New Data Browser and Importing

We’ve just released a brand new version of our data browser, with the ability to import pre-existing data from a CSV file. Check it out by going to your app on Parse and navigating to the data browser. If you’re not in the private beta, sign up here.

A Fully Featured Data Browser

If you’re familiar with GUI interfaces for MySQL (like Sequel Pro for the Mac), you’ll feel right at home in our data browser. The difference is that instead of managing rows in MySQL, our data browser manages the objects in your Parse classes.

The browser is command central for your app’s data, allowing you to view, edit, and create objects, all from a convenient web interface. Some of the features include:

  • Browse all of the data in the classes for your app.
  • View the column and schema information that has been defined for each class.
  • Create new objects or edit existing objects.
  • Create a new column on the fly.
  • Delete data or drop classes entirely.
  • Create new classes.

Even though you can now create classes using this interface, you aren’t required to do so before using new classes in our iOS or Android SDK. We will lazy create classes and columns as new data is saved from your mobile app.

Importing Data

In addition to browsing and updating data, you can now import existing data from CSV files. Click on the “Import…” button below the list of classes in the data browser to import the data into a new class. We’ll do our best to detect the columns automatically, creating an appropriate schema for your data. This is especially useful for pre-existing data that you have, like a list of users.

With these improvements to the data browser, it’s now easier than ever to get visiblity into the data that is being persisted by our iOS and Android SDKs. The ability to change and add data opens up a plethora of things you can do with your mobile app:

  • Make a class of announcements. Your app can pull down the latest announcements and show them to your app users.
  • Make a class containing information about your other apps, so that you can cross promote them.
  • Keep tabs on the new users that are signing up in your app.
  • Is someone gaming your high scores? Simply delete their objects from the class.
  • And lots more…

If you have any additional ideas, let us know in the comments!

James Yu
July 6, 2011

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