Notification Categories in Android Oreo

Back in June, Google announced some important changes to notifications in their upcoming release of the Android Oreo OS.

As of today, OneSignal is the first push notification provider to add full, server-side support for Notification Categories. Categories in OneSignal apps are configurable server-side via our dashboard, rather than being hardcoded. This allows marketers and developers to make changes and add new channels without needing to compile and submit new versions of their apps, saving valuable back-and-forth time.

Below is a screenshot of our new category editor (and a preview of our new dashboard design language), which walks you through the different options available in categories:

Android O Category Editor in OneSignal

What are Categories?

Categories let you distinguish what type of notification you are sending to a user, and give users per-category control over how they are notified.

For instance, a social app may send important alerts, user to user messages, transactional notifications, and reengagement notifications. In Android Oreo, the developer can now indicate these messages are different, and even put categories into different groups for users to better understand and control.

Why do Categories matter?

Previously, many larger app developers would have to spend considerable resources building their own logic to categorize their notifications and interface for users to manage preferences. And if they didn't, users that did not want to receive certain notifications would have to disable all notifications from the app - a bad outcome for both users and developers.

We think categories are a big deal. By giving more granular control to users, they will be more likely to stay opted-in to notifications, because they can choose which ones they want to receive.
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Recommendations

Categories are now required for developers targeting Android Oreo, and work for all prior Android releases as well in our latest SDK. Due to changes by Google, Android 2.3 is no longer supported in our latest SDK.

Even if you are not targeting Oreo today, we recommend developers begin using categories within OneSignal. Get started by taking a look at our notification categories documentation. As Google discussed in June, Categories are a big win for both developers and users.