Google Cloud Messaging has definitely taken the tech world by storm with its “smart” features and the convenience that is provided to developers as well as end users. The messaging protocol that has been implemented by Google by utilizing cloud services is truly exceptional and allows apps to interact with the server in better ways. All aspects of message queuing and delivery of messages to the particular android app are handled perfectly with the GCM service. And the best part is that this service, along with all the APIs and supporting guides, is completely free.
But what does this have to do with push notifications? Message queuing and delivery is the fundamental basis of push notifications and with GCM’s advanced communication protocol, it is possible to manage the upstream and downstream of these messages so that the user gets only the most relevant and useful information. GCM has also enabled developers to enhance and maintain the reliability of push notification services for their respective android apps.
GCM Features That Support Push Notifications
Google has come up with a new set of APIs that are rich in functionality and can operate without any registration forms or quotas, and does not have any negative impact on the device’s battery efficiency. The features that support push notifications are:
GCM allows a single message to be delivered to multiple devices and users. This helps to make push notifications more responsive and dynamic in nature.
- Message Upstreaming
Message Upstreaming basically involves the relaying of ‘ack’ (positive acknowledgement) or ‘nack’ (negative acknowledgement) of messages delivered to the device via GCM services.
- Time to Live
This is one feature that actually adds the “smart” factor to this communication service. The “Time to Live” feature allows GCM to store messages for periods ranging 0 seconds to 4 weeks. This means that if a message or notification does not hold value for you after a certain time, then the message would be destroyed at the GCM connection and the app would not receive it.
A good example of this is when you are offline and are not able to receive any inbound messages. Without this feature, you would get the notifications when you come online but by then, the message / notification would have no value to the user. Developers can control the delivery of messages even after it has been stored on the cloud. And the best part about this is that you can also control the expiry of messages when a user is online.
- Receiving Messages from Multiple Senders
With the GCM service, it is now possible for one application to receive notifications from at least a hundred servers. This capability allows notifications to reach applications at amazing speed with the latency levels being kept as low as 65 milliseconds.
What is the one thing that users dread from Push Notifications? Faster battery draining and stale information are the biggest concerns for the average user. But with GCM, you can be assured of better battery life and the latest information that is controlled with the “time to live” feature.
Improvements in GCM
Several improvements have been made to the service this year with major enhancements being made in the programming where message upstream and downstream processes have been simplified. Moreover, the registration process has also been simplified with the ID being stored in the GCM cache so that it is used the next time it is required.
Messages can now be sent with payload, subjected to a maximum permissible size of 4 kb. Such messages are not collapsible in nature and are always delivered. If you need to deliver collapsible messages, then a “send-to-sync” message is the one that would work for you. This message intimates the application that it needs to sync with the server to get the latest information. Once the message has been accessed it will collapse and it won’t be stored further. Depending upon the nature of information to be synchronized, appropriate expiry control measures may be implemented.
The Bottom Line
Google not only encourages its in-house team to come up with novel solutions and improvements to its services, but also provides all of these resources free of charge to everyone so that they may use it and come out with better and new ways to integrate the service with apps. This is an ongoing development process and with each passing day, the integration and usage of the GCM service continues to grow significantly. It won’t be long before you can witness some of the most amazing services being established with the use of Google Cloud Messaging.
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