Push notifications are no longer limited to just mobile applications and websites.

Push notifications have been an essential way that mobile applications engage with users and provide a richer app experience. Today, they are becoming a key feature across other devices including TVs, Gaming Consoles, Tablets, Voice Assistants, and even Vehicles.

Below is an overview of each device and platform that supports push notifications and how marketers and developers can take advantage of them. We’ll also cover some popular platforms that do not yet support push notifications.

Operating Systems

iOS Mobile Push Notifications

Apple supports mobile push notifications for native applications on the iPhone and iPad.

To receive push notifications, a user must typically install a mobile application and grant permission to that application to send them notifications. Notifications can contain a variety of rich media elements, and they can support user interaction in more advanced cases. Below is an example of an interactive iOS push notification sent using OneSignal.

In addition to custom interactive elements, iOS notifications can use several built-in iOS controls, including the ability for the user to enter text without launching the app. This is useful for enabling users to reply to text messages by long-pressing a notification, without needing to launch the app.

Apps are the most common way to receive notifications on iOS. However, users can also be sent notifications for Passbook entries (such as when a flight is delayed), or as part of an iOS App Clip experience.

An example of an iOS App Clip that can receive notifications. (Source: Apple Documentation)

iOS supports both remote notifications and local notifications. The most successful iOS apps use push notifications to engage and delight users and keep pace with rising standards for app communication.

iOS notifications can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Sending a visible message to the user.
  • Indicating that a phone or video call is being received by an application such as Skype or Whatsapp (VoIP notifications)
  • Running background code, such as to update content in the application for later offline viewing. (Background Notifications)
  • Updating a passbook entry (Passbook notifications)
  • Updating the badge number icon that is overlaid on top of an app’s launch icon.

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Android Push Notifications

Google’s Android operating system is among the most powerful when it comes to how applications can utilize notifications. Users can receive notifications from applications they install. They can also receive web push notifications through Android web browsers such as Chrome or Samsung Browser when they visit a website and grant notification permission.

Examples of Android 11 and Android 12 push notification UI. Source: OneSignal Blog

Android notifications can contain images and a limited set of other content. However, unlike iOS notifications, they may not contain gifs, videos, or custom interactive elements.

Android does provide a few built-in interactive elements, such as the ability to reply to text messages (SMS).

An example of an Android text notification and option to reply in the notification window.(source: Android Developer Documentation)

Android notifications can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Sending a visible message to the user.
  • Indicating that a phone or video call is being received by an application such as Skype or Whatsapp (VoIP notifications)
  • Running background code, such as to update content in the application for later offline viewing. (Background Notifications)
  • Updating a passbook entry (Passbook notifications)

Android notifications are typically delivered through Google’s FCM API. However, there are some exceptions. In China, FCM is not available, so notifications may be delivered through FCM-like APIs provided by Baidu, Tencent, or device manufacturers like Huawei. Also on some Huawei devices, FCM is not available, and Huawei’s push service (Called HMS) must be used instead.

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macOS Push Notifications

Starting in macOS Big Sur, Apple has largely copied the APIs that exist for iOS push notifications and made them available in macOS. Similarly, iOS applications can be installed on newer Apple computers with the M1 Arm Processor or newer, with no changes required to how those applications register for or present notifications.

Push Notification Updates & More from WWDC20
Example of a macOS web push notification shown in the corner of a macOS screen.
Example of a macOS notification sent by an iOS App Running on an M1 Macbook

Beginning with macOS Monterey, Apple has made iOS 15+ features including notification focus modes and notification interruption levels available on macOS as well.

Example of Focus Mode support across macOS & iOS devices. (Source: Apple.com)

OneSignal provides support for macOS notifications through either the OneSignal iOS SDK for iOS apps running on Apple Silicon Macs, or by interacting with the OneSignal API for native macOS notifications.

macOS notifications can also be generated by websites, through the web push capabilities available in all desktop browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

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Windows Push Notifications

Similar to macOS, Windows provides a rich notification center.

Example of a Web Push Notification displayed on a Windows computer
Example of a Windows notification from Outlook. Source: microsoft.com
Windows notifications in the Windows 11 Action Center view. Source: techrepublic.com

Windows notifications can also be generated by websites, through the web push capabilities available in all desktop browsers including Chrome and Firefox.

OneSignal supports sending Windows notifications through Microsoft’s WNS protocol. Please contact the OneSignal support team at support@onesignal.com if you need any help implementing OneSignal in your Windows application.

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ChromeOS Push Notifications

Similar to Windows and macOS, Google’s Chrome Operating System includes a notification center.

A screenshot of the notification center and settings on a Chrome OS laptop. Source: 9to5google.com

Because ChromeOS applications are built using the same technology as websites, developers can create ChromeOS notifications by implementing web push. For instance, you can use OneSignal's web push SDK to add push notifications to a ReactJS, Next.js, or Angular app. To learn more about how to add web push notifications to your Android app, check out our Web Push Quickstart Guide.

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Web Browsers

Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Other Browser Notifications

Most browsers support the Web Push API standard. This API can be used on both desktop and mobile devices to allow notifications from websites and to receive those notifications even when a website is closed.

Examples of how Web Push notifications are shown across different operating systems.

Web push notifications enable users to receive timely notifications about products, news, or messages without needing to install a native application or have a website browser open. They are a key part of recent efforts around Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), a technology that enables websites to utilize many features that were previously only available to installed applications.

Web push is available on nearly all browsers, with the notable exception of Safari. Safari on Desktop uses an Apple proprietary push system and Safari on iOS does not support notifications at all.

OneSignals supports web push on all possible browsers and also supports Apple’s proprietary push system for macOS Safari.

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Safari on macOS Push Notifications

Safari on macOS supports notifications through Apple’s proprietary push notification system. Websites can ask users to grant push notification permission, and then later send them messages even if the browser is closed.

An example of the web prompt used to request Safari notification permission and what Safari notifications look like in different parts of macOS.

Clicking the notification will launch the website that the notification was sent from.

OneSignal supports Safari push notifications alongside broader support for web push notifications across all other browsers. Notably, Apple has not yet added notification support to Safari on iOS devices.

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Safari on iOS Push Notifications

Safari on iOS does not support notifications. Also, all other iOS browsers like Chrome for iOS and Firefox for iOS also do not support notifications.

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Tablets and Wearables

Amazon Fire Tablet Push Notifications

Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets run a modified version of the Android operating system. This modified version has a different UI than typical Android devices. Amazon also uses its own notification system, called “Amazon Device Messaging” instead of Google’s messaging system.

Third-party applications for Amazon Fire Tablets are distributed through the Amazon App Store.

A screenshot of the Amazon Fire Tablet notification center.

Fortunately, much of the code and experience for Amazon Fire Notifications is borrowed from the core of the Android operating system. For this reason, OneSignal’s Android SDK already includes support for Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets.

Kindle Fire notifications are delivered through the Amazon Device Messaging API.

OneSignal clients can follow our Amazon SDK Setup guide to implement Amazon Fire notifications.

Additional Resources:

Amazon Kindle E-Reader Push Notifications

Amazon Kindle E-Readers do not support third-party applications and do not include the concept of push notifications.

However, Amazon also has a different product line under the “Fire Tablet” branding that is a different type of device that supports both third-party applications and notifications.

Apple Watch Push Notifications (watchOS)

The Apple Watch supports two types of notifications. First, if the watch is paired with an iPhone and the iPhone is locked or asleep, notifications are displayed on the Apple Watch instead.

Example of how notifications from different apps are shown on the Apple Watch. (Source: apple.com)

The notifications appear similar to how they would be shown on an iPhone or iPad, but they are reformatted to fit on the much smaller Apple Watch screen. Users can interact with the notifications, including replying to text messages or changing notification preferences by long-tapping on a displayed notification.

Example of user notification preferences on the Apple Watch.

Next, the Apple Watch also supports independent apps. These are applications that can run on the watch without requiring an iPhone to be nearby.

Independent apps for watchOS can also generate notifications using the same framework as iOS applications. However, the notification setup steps are slightly different.

Due to limited demand, OneSignal does not currently provide a first-party SDK for independent apps on watchOS. However, with some modifications to the existing OneSignal iOS SDK, it is possible to use OneSignal to send notifications to independent apps.

If you are interested in this functionality, please email our support team at support@onesignal.com for guidance. More information can be found in this GitHub issue.

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Android Wear Push Notifications (Wear OS)

Similar to iOS, Android automatically bridges notifications from Android phones to Android Wear devices. The layout of notifications is changed to fit the smaller screen and boundaries of the device.

Example of an Android phone notification being bridged to an Wear OS watch (Source: Android.com)

Like Apple’s watchOS, Wear OS also supports creating standalone apps.

The APIs to generate Wear OS standalone notifications closely match the APIs for Android notifications, so little additional work is required.

Android Wear OS also supports a feature called Bridging, which can be used to de-duplicate notifications when a user has both an Android app and a standalone WearOS app installed from the same developer.  

OneSignal’s Android SDK natively supports all types of Wear OS notifications.

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Fitbit notifications (Fitbit OS)

Depending on the Fitbit device, the notification experience will differ. Newer Fitbit devices support mirroring notifications from the apps that the user chooses, while older devices typically only support notifications for calls and texts.

The notifications are synchronized over Bluetooth, so the user’s smartphone must be nearby.

Example of notifications being mirrored onto a Fitbit. (Source: TheDroidGuy.com)

Fitbit also supports creating third-party apps and clock faces. However, at the time of writing this article, third-party apps do not have a way to display notifications.

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Vehicles

Apple CarPlay Push Notifications

Similar to the Apple Watch, Apple Auto will mirror notifications that are sent to a user’s paired iOS device. However, CarPlay will only show notifications for apps with CarPlay support. This helps prevent distracting notifications from non-driving and non-messaging-related apps on the road.

Users can ask Siri to read the content of messages that they get while in CarPlay. They can also tap on the notification to launch the associated CarPlay app.

Example of an iOS Messages notification being mirrored onto a CarPlay display. (Source: Apple.com)

When building a CarPlay app, developers must request the .carPlay authorization from their app code. Once notification permission is granted, notifications sent to the app will be mirrored in the CarPlay screen.

CarPlay does not support standalone apps, so the only way to show notifications is to have them mirrored from an iOS app with CarPlay support.

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Android Auto Push Notifications (Android Automotive OS)

In order to minimize distractions, Android Auto supports a limited subset of Android notification features.

Example of the notification center on an Android Auto display. (Source: google.com)

Android Auto notifications do not allow complex controls, such as tapping to expand a notification, or long-pressing a notification for additional options. Car manufacturers can also further restrict the functionality of notifications, based on screen size or safety.

Developers can implement Android Auto notifications using the same APIs as they would use for standard Android notifications.

OneSignal includes support for Android Auto notifications. For assistance implementing the OneSignal SDK in an Android Auto app, please reach out to our support team at support@onesignal.com.

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Tesla Push Notifications

Tesla vehicles do not support third-party applications. Tesla’s in-car display also does not mirror notifications from smartphones. However, Tesla vehicles will notify users of incoming calls. They also support showing a pop-up for SMS messages and users can reply using the in-car text to speech functionality.

Photo of the SMS interface on a Tesla Model 3 (Source: notateslaapp.com

Voice Assistants

Amazon Echo Notifications (Amazon Alexa)

Amazon Echo devices support several types of push notifications, and notifications can be sent by third-party apps.

Example of how an Amazon Echo shows the presence of new notifications. (Source: AmazonMusic.com)

If the device has a screen, then a text version of the notification is shown. Otherwise, the Echo device will show a yellow indicator indicating the presence of new notifications, and the user must ask Alexa to read them.

Example of how notifications are shown on an Amazon Echo device with a screen. (Source: iphoneincanada.ca)

To send Echo notifications, developers must create an Alexa Skill. Skills can be installed through the Alexa App on a user’s smartphone. Users can also install Skills through Alexa voice commands. Once a Skill is installed, it can interact with Amazon’s API to send notifications to a user.

OneSignal supports Amazon Echo notifications and has example code available, by request. Please contact our team at support@onesignal.com if you are interested in using OneSignal for an Alexa Skill.

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Google Home & Google Nest Hub Push Notifications

Google offers a wide range of smart home devices. Older devices are under the Google Home brand, while newer ones use the Nest moniker. They include smart speakers, as well as displays, thermostats, Wi-Fi routers, and more.

Google Home and Google Nest devices often include Google Assistant, which is a voice-controlled personal assistant.

Google Assistant voice-enabled devices under either the Google Home and Google Nest monikers do not support push notifications. However, third-party apps created for Google Assistant can be installed through the voice interface, and can then deliver notifications that will show up on a user’s smartphone. If the user is on an Android smartphone, the notification will arrive from the built-in Google Assistant app. If the user is on an iOS device, they must first install the Google Assistant iOS application.

Example of how Google Assistant notifications are shown on an Android device (Source: google.com)

Although Google Nest Hub devices have a screen, they do not support displaying third-party notifications.

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Social Networks, Chat, and Gaming Platforms

Facebook Notifications

For many years, Facebook has supported application-to-user notifications that are shown in the Facebook web UI and in the Facebook mobile application.

An example of how Facebook notifications are shown on the Facebook Website.

The APIs and restrictions on this notification capability frequently change, with Facebook more recently implementing strict requirements for what kinds of third-party applications can send notifications.

Presently, only games that use “Facebook Login for Gaming” may send notifications in this interface. Non-game apps may not use these APIs.

Players must use their Facebook Login to be able to receive notifications and Facebook imposes strict rules on the frequency and quality of notifications sent. No more than five notifications may be sent to a user between sessions and apps may be penalized and unable to send notifications if they send too many messages to inactive users or have a low engagement rate.

Based on recent trends and privacy concerns, it’s unclear whether Facebook will continue to offer this functionality over the coming years.

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Instagram Notifications

Instagram provides APIs for businesses to send messages to users, but it is designed as a way to help businesses manage direct messages at scale, not as a notification platform. Instagram places several restrictions on this API, including a requirement that there is an escalation path to a human agent. No other notification APIs are available for third-party applications.

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Facebook Messenger Notifications

Facebook messenger provides a platform for third-party applications to partially or fully automate conversations.

Example of Facebook Messenger being used to receive PayPal notifications on the Facebook website.

To use this feature, the third-party application must create a Facebook page and get users' permission to send them Facebook messages. Facebook also imposes rate limits on pages that send too many messages or send messages too quickly.

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WhatsApp Notifications (Business API)

Facebook’s WhatsApp Business API can be used by medium and large companies to communicate with their customers.

Example of a notification from a business in WhatsApp chat experience. (Source: facebook.com)

The WhatsApp Business API requires developers to provide pre-approved templates and to get user-opt in. WhatsApp also charges for messages sent, at rates ranging from about $0.005 USD per message, up to $0.08 USD per message.

To use this API, businesses must submit to a verification process and must be approved by Facebook in order to send messages.

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WeChat Notifications (Weixin Open Platform Notifications)

WeChat provides APIs that can be used both by third-party WeChat Mini Programs (apps that run inside of the WeChat app) or by external apps distributed on iOS or Android devices.

Example of notifications from a WeChat Mini Program. (Source: https://chozan.co/)

WeChat provides the ability for official accounts to send notifications to their subscribers, notifying them of the availability of a Mini Program, or notify them about updates to the Program. Mini Programs can contain content including promotions or customer support.

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Steam Push Notifications

Steam, a digital game distribution service specializing in desktop games for PCs and Macs, provides a native API for game notifications. This system is used for delivering notifications to users for games that provide asynchronous multiplayer features. Usage for other purposes is not permitted.

Example of a "Turn Notification" viewed in the Steam notification center. (Source: imgur.com)

Steam may also automatically send notifications to promote a game. For example, they may send a price drop notification to users that have added the game in question to their wishlist.

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Smart TV Devices

Roku Notifications

Roku supports the creation of third-party “Channels” to provide users access to different types of streaming content. However, Channels do not have a way of generating notifications.

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Chromecast Push Notifications

Google’s Chromecast provides an easy way for users to mirror content from their laptop or smartphone. It does not have a notification center and does not support third-party applications. Chromecast support is often built-in to Smart TVs. Chromecast devices are often bundled with Google TV.

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Google TV Push Notifications (Android TV)

Google TV, previously called Android TV, is a popular Smart TV operating system. The operating system is available via external hardware devices (“Chromecast with Google TV”), or it comes pre-installed with some popular TV sets. Google TV is also available as an Android application.

A photo of a "Chromecast with Google TV" device and remote. (source: google.com)

Google TV supports creating third-party applications using Android development tools. Existing Android apps can also be ported to Google TV.

Google TV does not have a notification center. Therefore, third-party applications can't show notifications as they would on an Android phone or tablet.

Instead, applications can use the Recommendations Channel and Watch Next Channel to promote content.

Additional Resources

Apple TV Push Notifications (tvOS)

AppleTV refers to both an iOS application, subscription service, and a hardware device running tvOS that can be connected to a TV. In this section, we’ll focus on the tvOS hardware device.

Newer tvOS devices can show notifications, but they are limited to Homekit camera events or similar. Non-HomeKit pop-up notifications are not supported.

Example of a Homekit camera notification pop-up on an Apple TV. (Source: homekitnews.com)

tvOS also supports two other types of notifications: Badges and Content-available notifications.

Badges are used to display a counter on an app icon, such as to indicate a new episode of a show. Content-available notifications can be used to run background code, such as to download sports scores or a list of show names so that they are ready when a user next launches the tvOS app.

Example of a badge icon with a counter on one of the application icons on Apple TV. (Source: reddit.com)

If you’re interested in sending Apple TV notifications with OneSignal, please contact our support team for more information.

Additional Resources

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV has the best notification capability of any Smart TV device or operating system.

Example of notifications in the Fire TV notification center. (Source: amazon.com)

Amazon Fire TV is built on top of the Android Operating System and supports most of the Android Notification API. Amazon encourages developers to utilize notifications in a wide variety of ways as they would on any other Android application.​​

Example heads-up notification on the Amazon Fire TV (Source: amazon.com)

Fire TV has three types of supported notifications:

  • Heads-up Notifications - Floating windows that appear at the bottom of the screen. Users can interact with the notification to launch the third-party app connected to it. The notification will also be shown in the Fire TV notification center.
  • Toasts - Small pop-ups that appear within an app but are not stored in the notification center.
  • Standard Notifications - Appear in the Fire TV notification center.

Additional Resources

Samsung SmartTV Push Notifications

Samsung TVs run Tizen, an open-source operating system primarily developed by Samsung Electronics. Tizen supports a notification experience similar to Android devices and this extends to Samsung TVs.

Example of a notification on a Samsung Tizen OS TV. (Source: https://world-import.com)

To send and receive SmartTV notifications in their third-party app, developers need to implement Tizen’s libraries. OneSignal does not support Tizen or Samsung TV notifications at this time.

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Gaming Consoles

Xbox Console Notifications

Microsoft’s Xbox consoles run a heavily customized version of Microsoft Windows, and many windows applications can be ported to the Xbox. Nevertheless, the Xbox does not permit applications or games to generate notifications.

However, the operating system does have features that allow games to highlight achievements, user-to-user messages, or game invitations. The Xbox notification center will show notifications for these types of events, but they cannot be customized by third-party developers.

An achievement notification that is displayed during a driving gaming session on an Xbox console. (Site: gameinformer.com)

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Playstation Notifications

Sony’s Playstation console does not permit games or applications from generating custom notifications. However, the operating system does have features that allow games to highlight achievements, messages from friends, or game invitations.

Example of messages in the Sony Playstation Notification Center.

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Nintendo Switch Notifications

Nintendo’s Switch gaming console is perhaps the only gaming console that has a push-notification style capability.

Example of an "alarm" notification from the Ring Fit Adventure fitness game on a Nintendo Switch. (Source: neowin.net)

Games like Ring Fit Adventure can set and trigger "alarm" notifications to be shown in the future. When the console is docked, the controller will vibrate, the Switch will beep, and the home button will light up to indicate that there is an alarm that was triggered.

As of 2021, no other games seem to make use of this functionality. Users can also set their own alarms in the user settings for their Switch.

Similar to other consoles, the Nintendo Switch also shows notifications for friend invitations, achievements, or completed game downloads.

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Google Stadia Push Notifications

Google’s Stadia platform does not support third-party notifications. However, notifications are automatically shown for chats, new games, or friend requests.

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Reach Out to us for Device-Specific Support

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