Last update: May 2021

8 mins to read - 2019/01/18

Migrating from GCM? Upgrade to Smart Push

Why you should consider delivering Android push notifications with OpenBack

If you’re still using Google Cloud Messaging services to send push notifications, then you should be well aware that services for GCM are ending on the 11th of April.

Migrating to Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) is most likely on your to-do list for Q1-2019 and using a third party push provider like OpenBack can make that process easier and much more effective.

OpenBack provides a robust push notification platform and is also the only mobile engagement platform that has Smart Push Notifications powered by device-side decisions.

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Ease of Integration

OpenBack is a fast and easy integration for Android apps and should take less than 15 minutes for each app and involves:

  • Adding 2 lines to your Gradle files
  • Adding a JSON file for configuring OpenBack
  • Updating the manifest file
  • Pasting 2 lines of code into the app

The SDK, which is an AAR file, is a tiny 230 KB.

The integration process for OpenBack is designed to be set up once and to never have to touch a line of code again. After the initial set up, you can customise the SDK by adding user info or custom data values. Does your app already store a user’s first name, the country they live in or any other general details? Add it to the OpenBack SDK with a single line of code and use it later on in a notification to really personalize each message you send out.

User Data - Custom Values work as a powerful feature of the OpenBack SDK. It allows you to take information from your app and use it to either personalize notifications or segment the users that you want to send messages to. The list of possibilities with this feature is basically endless as it caters to each and every different aspect of an app:

  • Notify users that have not completed your sign up process
  • Only send a message to users that have viewed a certain product
  • Send a notification to a user and use the location of the last trip they were viewing in the notification content

Recording and using user data - custom values is where you can let your imagination run wild.

What is a Smart Push Notification?

The OpenBack SDK uses the data and information from each user’s phone to deliver Smart Push notifications. Smart Push notifications use device-side information to determine the best time to deliver the notification for that user. You can choose when and why the notification gets delivered using the Dashboard and/or API.

A reliable delivery is guaranteed because the decision making is carried out by the device and the delivery of the notification is done within the app itself. This essentially means that all the rules and information regarding a notification live within the app and therefore can overcome obstacles to delivering a notification such as a lack of connectivity or a change in the device’s push token.

OpenBack allows a developer or marketer to send notifications to users based on over 200 data points. They can easily decide how and when to send a notification, all without any extra development work. The OpenBack SDK takes less than 15 minutes to fully integrate and all aspects can then be fully managed without any more app updates from the OpenBack Dashboard. For example, you can set up a Smart Push notification to deliver to users when it is after 6pm (device time) and if their phone is currently unlocked. This can be done straight after integration and all from the OpenBack Dashboard.

OpenBack supports three main types of messages:

  • Smart Push Messages
  • In-App Messages (including an app inbox)
  • Standard Push Messages

Smart Push messages appear like all other push and local notifications but the beauty is in the delivery moment and the action. A Smart Push notification contains a message with a title and content and can contain a URL, which can be a link to any webpage or a deeplink within your app.

In-App messages deliver rich content to a user and can be used to display as a popup overlay which places the user within your app after the overlay is dismissed. These messages can be used to send images, full videos, prompts to install another app or even custom HTML. The pre-caching of this data is where OpenBack comes into its own.

Here’s a sample of some custom HTML!


Since the SDK pulls down all new messages once they’re created on the Dashboard, any In-App messages with rich content such as a video can play seamlessly on a user’s device even if they have no data connection. For example, you can create an In-App message that includes a video advertisement for a new feature in your app. You can set this message to deliver when a user has their headphones in and their phone unlocked, guaranteeing that they will hear and see your ad. Once this message has been created, the content is pulled down by the OpenBack SDK.  The message and its contents are now stored on the phone until the perfect delivery moment, where the message is displayed and a video is shown seamlessly.

Standard Push messages are normal notifications that are delivered immediately. These are standard messages that focus on immediate delivery but can also contain a URL or deep-link.
The OpenBack SDK has a lot to offer and one of the key features is easily personalizing each and every push notification.



A key feature of the OpenBack platform is the ability to personalize every notification with ease. After integration, personalization is as easy as a few clicks of a button.

Personalizing a notification with user or app data – customizing your message title and content can be done easily with the UI. This way of personalizing a message works more efficiently than standard methods because:

  • The information lives on the user’s device and never has to leave it.
  • There is no need for any backend connections as the SDK handles everything.
  • There is a fallback in place in case no user info is found.

For example in the message below, for a user named John whose name has been stored in the SDK, the message will read “Hey John!”. If the SDK doesn’t contain any stored first name, the message will simply read “Hey you!”.

Hey {{user.firstName | you}}!

Personalization can be very useful when trying to market your app and it has been found to increase push notification open rates up to 800%!

Ways to Target Your Users

Segmenting users efficiently has always been a problem especially with the standard “push and forget” mentality with notifications. OpenBack offers over 30 different delivery triggers that can be used singly or in combination with each other to segment your users and ensure a message arrives at the perfect moment.

Unlock Trigger

The Unlock Trigger does exactly what it says on the tin, it sends a user a notification when their phone is unlocked. This increases the odds that the person is looking at their phone.

Location Trigger

There are several ways to deliver a message based on a user’s location. Send a notification to a user based on their exact location, the country they’re in or you can use our home/work features to send notifications when a user is at home or in work – without the user having to opt into sharing their location data, as we use other available device data and machine learning to learn when they are at home or at work.

Time Trigger

The Time Trigger is one of the most popular triggers due to its simplicity and power. You can set up notifications to be sent out at a specific time, either using the user’s device time or UTC. The Time Trigger can also be used to set up a recurring notification that can be sent out every Friday at 5pm for example.

OpenBack offers one of the most simple integrations for any push platform while also offering the most powerful features.

Move away from standard lockscreen-cluttering notifications and start sending Smart Notifications that your users will want to see.  Get Smart, grow aggressively and stay compliant.