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Push Notifications Are Finally Cross-Platform. But What Do We Need Them For?

Push Notifications Are Finally Cross-Platform. But What Do We Need Them For?

Ask people about push notifications, and you’ll get a long list of pros and cons. For some, it’s an indispensable tool. For others, a mortal enemy. In 2023, notifications are finally cross-platform and available to all, but do we need them?

Push notifications are finally cross-platform

In 2016, push notifications became the standard thanks to the introduction of Push API and Notification API. Now the users had the way to be notified about events, messages or important information — all they had to do was allow notifications in the first place. But the sad thing is that the feature was massively misused, making the users aggravated and mistrustful. Ads and spam made them wary of agreeing to push notifications, making the whole feature partly useless.

“It’s hard to over-hype the power of mobile push notifications. For the first time in human history, you can tap almost two billion people on the shoulder.” – Ariel Seidman.

But the standard kept evolving, finally reaching a point where every browser supports it, WebKit being the last to implement it. Right now, notifications in iOS 16.4 (and iPadOS 16.4) are only available for web apps added to the home screen.

Nowadays, even developers don’t have a clear opinion about them. Most agree that it’s a great, albeit misused tool. The others insist it had no reason to exist in the first place. They see them as a way for companies to force their content on people, force-feeding them information. Marketing fatigue is real, and it takes a long time to stop feeling paranoid.

It is more complicated, of course. There are legitimate use cases. For example, PWAs make use of notifications to replace normal apps completely. You can use them to make a light progressive Twitter app, which genuinely needs push notifications to work correctly. The same can be said about messengers. The potential is there, but maybe it is too late to try to make this a thing?

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