Firebase Push Notifications Now on Web

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Firebase is a cloud-based messaging service that makes it easier for developers to send push notifications to users from their applications. It was acquired by Google in 2014 and could already send notifications to mobile device users from both Android and iOS applications and from Chrome apps, but now has increased reach and capability. It is now available to use, for free, on Chrome (on both desktop and mobile), Firefox (desktop and mobile) and Opera (mobile).

Push notifications have become an increasingly powerful tool for software developers, with a number of proven benefits particularly in terms of user engagement with a particular application. With the ever-increasing number of apps available, some can get lost and forgotten on a device. A notification can often simply provide a reminder about the existence of an app and encourage the user to interact with it. Notifications can also provide a developer with useful information about how users and receiving and interacting. For the user, a notification can be a useful reminder, alerts or update, particularly when the timing of receiving the information might be most important. Google have quoted various case studies in their release announcement, including Alibaba.com, who reported a fourfold increase in engagement following the implementation of push notifications and AliExpress who saw a 93% higher open rate for their website.

In terms of competition, Amazon Web Services offers a similar service called Simple Notification Service which sends SMS messages and is available in over 200 countries. Text messaging is traditionally more flexible than push notifications, but that is changing as both mobile and desktop operating systems are incorporating an increasingly rich experience surrounding notifications and how users can receive and interact with them. Text messaging is often also seen as more intrusive to a user, whereas a notification is more an expected behavior for an app. Notifications also provide the user with more options to block or tailor the notifications to their own preferences, either within the app or at a system level.

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It is also expected that Firebase messaging will be enabled in future releases of Microsoft's Edge Browser on Windows 10 and the Samsung Browser.