NEW - Read our follow up to this blog post: "The State of iOS Web Push in 2020"
For those who are not yet familiar with the new Web Push feature in browsers, you can see a quick demo here.
One of the most frequent questions we hear is "Can I send Web Push notifications on iOS?".
Unfortunately the answer is "no" for now. Read on to learn more about the history of Web Push and when we expect Safari on iOS to support it.
Back in October 2013, Apple was the first company to support notifications from Websites through a proprietary format in their OS X Mavericks release. This new feature was almost immediately adopted by major publishers including The New York Times, NBA.com, and others.
At the time, many hoped iOS Safari push notifications to would be improved and be brought to iOS 8, but more than two years later we are still waiting.
Fortunately, good news is on the horizon. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and other browsers have all either released or made a commitment to support a standardized Web Push interface for both desktop and mobile devices. Furthermore, major sites including Facebook have now implemented Web Push as a key feature.
Here's what we know so far about Apple's plans to introduce Web Push to iOS:
In February 2014, an Apple employee who works on Webkit, the open source browser engine powering Safari, publicly indicated interest in implementing for Service Workers, a key element of supporting the new Web Push protocol in Safari. As with other browsers, "Service Worker" support on iOS will likely be released concurrently with Web Push support.
Webkit has added implementing the "Service Workers" specification to their 5-year plan and marked it as "Under Consideration" in their Feature Status page.
There is tremendous interest in Web Push from major publishers. Several weeks ago I had the chance to chat with a developer from a Top 20 website who let me know that his company had told Apple that they were specifically interested in Web Push on iOS. As more large publishers adopt Web Push, Apple will be increasingly motivated to catch up to other browsers and add support for Push to iOS.
Based on the above, we believe it's only a matter of time before Web Push is supported on iOS. Our guess is Q3 or Q4 2017. Until then, there's no reason to wait. Chrome and Opera already support Web Push on desktop and mobile devices, Firefox will support it in January 2016, and other browsers are close behind.
To get started, you can learn more about Web Push on Google's Developer Documentation, and sign up for OneSignal to get free access to a tutorial and tools to set up reliable and effective notifications for your website.