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Best Alternative to Parse Push Notification

Parse Push Notification Service is ending. With the surprise announcement that Facebook is closing the shutters completely on Parse, there are a lot of mobile app developers who use Parse Push Notification left with the headache of what to do next. But as you’ll know, its OK, you have some time, the service wont be withdrawn until the end of January 2017. But the sad part is that the Parse Push service wont be open-sourced like other parts of Parse. So you’ll be forced to find an alternative to Parse Push.

So no point in hanging about.

What’s the Best Alternative for Parse Push?

You have two routes you can go. Take on a free standing push notification service and integrate that with the server-side of your app project or pick a provider that offers you a push service that is already integrated within a backend. The route that right for you will depend on many things including how comfortable you are with the overhead of building and maintaining the integration between your push service and your mBaaS platform. Also whether you will actually need some of the specialist features that come with the free standing systems and whether they are worth paying extra for those features.

So here’s a short summary of the best alternatives to Parse Push Notifications. Its not designed to be an exhaustive list. There are dozens of services out there, each having their own merits and no doubt de-merits. But maybe this will help you short-list what to use once the Parse Push Notification service finally shuts down.

Kumulos Push

Kumulos Push is the only Push Notification Service that is purpose built for Mobile App Development Companies. As such it has a range of features that are specifically designed to help make App Developers lives easier, and help them get more apps that they build on monthly retainer. It doesn’t aim to be as full featured as the specialist stand-alone systems. Kumulos offers a push notification service that strikes a good balance between ease of use, functionality and price. It gives you the choice of using their push platform stand alone with an existing mobile backend platform, or already integrated within the Kumulos mBaaS platform. Either option also lets you give your mobile app clients access to their own push notification dashboard that allows them to run their own push campaigns and measure the results.

There is also the option of an automated monthly report. This is typically offered by Mobile App Development Agencies to their clients as a service on monthly retainer.

Pricing

This is one place that Kumulos Push scores highly. Fixed monthly pricing fits well with mobile app developers offering Push Notification as a Service to their customers. Kumulos starts from as little as $50.00 per month which gives you an unlimited number of notifications each month, there is also an up to 30 Days Free Trial available.

Carnival

Carnival is definitely worth a look if you are looking for a system well featured system to run complex push notification campaigns.  It  seem to offer a well balanced push notification services catering for the needs of developers and the marketing team that will be running the push notification campaigns. Too often push notification services are bias towards developers needs, so its good to see Carnival getting the balance right.

Their push notification services offers rich messaging, granular audience segmentation, message automation that includes timezone (and language) settings and narrow geo-fencing targeting and user behavior analytics that can be automated and sent directly to your inbox.

I’d say they definitely have to be up there when considering an alternative to Parse Push.

Pricing

This looks to be a closely guarded secret so best to email them if you want a demo or to find out if your project can afford them.

Streethawk

StreetHawks Push Notification Services have  good platform coverage iOS, Andriod, Phonegap, Xamarin, Corona, Telerik, Titanium. They say, and it seems to make sense, that if apps don’t use deferred deep linking properly it can lose 70% of its users day 3 from the first install. So StreetHawk put a lot of emphasis on this within their “Growth Offering”. But their real strength comes in their “Engage” offering. It offers impressive features around segmentation and life-cycle management, highly configurable push notification services and rich in app content. Their iBeacon and geo-fencing functionality is also worth a close look. Possibilities here to keep app users engaged makes StreekHawk a very interesting push notification platform.
StreetHawk lets you focus effort on the most valuable app users with some interesting “viral analytics” and some pretty cool engagement automation tools.
Churn within any app is inevitable, but if you can use push to help reduce churn, particularly among your most valuable app users, or use it to increase use frequency of less engaged app users then its value will be immense. StreetHawk has real strengths here.

Pricing

StreetHawk’s push notification pricing is one of the more complicated plan structures out there. They set their pricing out based on what you are trying to achieve. Best just to browse streethawks price page for yourself to see if its for you.

Urban Airship

Urban Airship’s goes beyond what you’d typically describe as  a Push Notification Service. It positions itself as a mobile engagement platform offering an impressive array of features including of course push notification, but also a very user friendly message center, fine grain segmentation configuration and location technology including beacons, geo-fencing, location history and location targeting.
This makes Urban Airship a pretty powerful in app marketing automation platform that allows highly targeted (if done right highly relevant) real time customer experience. Also the message configuration settings help prevent spamming the app user with too many push notes.
The analytics package is pretty impressive too. It can give a real insight into what activities, push, in app messages or whatever, are driving the desired behavour. Knowledge is power after all, but its how you use it that counts, of course.

Pricing

In terms of plan pricing, Urban Airship keep their Push Notification Services a secret. That’s rarely a good sign.  If you need to know the price, you probably can’t afford it.

Push Woosh

Push Woosh positions its push notification services more at the development community.  Its the classic stick to what they are good at software provider that you could argue is less likely to do a Parse Push on you.

Its highly configurable, with loads of great features, but not that friendly out the box, compared with other push notification services. But it comes with a big user community amongst mobile app developers so your not going to be short of programmers to help you out.
With a technical solution you won’t be surprised to hear that there is a huge list of platforms and formats that Push Woosh works with – it covers 19 platforms in all. By far the most comprehensive of any Push Notification Service platform. Android, Blackberry 5-7, 10, Windows Phone & 8, Nokia Asha, Amazon, OS X, Chrome, Safari, WordPress, Cordova (phonegap), unity, Adobe Air, Marmalade, Corona, Appcelerator Titanium, Xamarin, PhoneGap build and Trigger.io

Pricing

Pricing looks decent also with a good free tier, albeit only allowing very limited functionality. But at $49 a month used well it should more than cover its cost.
Alternative to Parse Push- PushWoosh pricing

Catapush

Catapush’s push notification services feels a bit raw around the edged but could be an interesting option for the smaller mobile app projects. It offers a narrower platform choice than some of the more established players with SDK’s for just Android and iOS. It has a RESTful API. That said it does offer some interesting features. For example delivery status tracking and failover to SMS when the app user has lost data connectivity. This gives the option to send an SMS using the standard protocol even if the app isn’t currently installed on the phone. Pretty useful if you’re trying to win back lost app users. That said, not sure how this fits with permission based push notes and how invasive this would feel to the user, so best used sparingly.

As for analytics,  this isn’t integrated but accessed through an API. The stats appear to be very centered around note delivery, so less useful to analyse and drive more granular campaigns.

Pricing

There’s no free in-use tier with Catapush’s Push Notification Service. Pricing is in Euros for this Italian based company, there is no US $ pricing.  Entry price is €29/month (plus purchase tax) for up to 2,500 subscribers. For that you get to send an unlimited number of push messages.

You’ll need to ask them about pricing for the SMS service.

Xtify

Always tempting to discount push notification services once they are bought by a tech monolith. Xtify was absorbed by IBM (Push.io was bought out by Oracle and merged with their Marketing Cloud offering a while back also). What you lose in access and engagement with the software company you gain in security and the fact that if you go for Xtify (or Push.io) you can be pretty sure the push notification services will be around in a few years. Well, you’d like to think so, wouldn’t you. But the lesson learned from FaceBook and Parse Push is that maybe a broadliner like IBM may lose interest in Xtify. So some caution is needed, perhaps.

Xtify offers the standard set of SDK’s, and one of the few offering it for Blackberry. It allows you to target either simple or rich text HTML push notifications. It also offers a “persistent” notification inbox, which is pretty neat. So messages stay visible until they are read or deleted. It also offers a scheduler that can be configured on timezone and location. It’s also one of the few that lets you integrate with any existing CRM data, so gives a more complete view of customers full contact history regardless of medium.

Pricing

So it’s from IBM so it’s not going to be the cheapest option for push notification services. It’s not easy to find out pricing, which probably tells you what you need to know in terms of cost.

Quick Blox

Quick Blox gives you coverage of iOS, Android, Javascript, Blackberry as well as for WordPress, Phonegap and php platforms. It also offers a Restful API.
It offers the choice of a shared cloud or dedicated instance. The cloud instance is pretty fast to get going. It offers simple drag and drop configuration to get the SDK into your app code as well as copy past credentials from the QuickBlox dashboard.

Pricing

Its free tier gives you 20,000 monthly active users and unlimited numbers of push notes. That said it throttles those to 20 per second. So could be OK for retail location-based apps maybe where instant volume isn’t critical, but for a high volume app where you’re wanting to push out large numbers of push notes all at once, it can get pricey. You could be looking at pricing in the range of $49/month to $219 per month for the shared cloud option. Up to $2,399/month if you need more than 500,000 monthly users.

More Reading on Push Notification Services

This blog from Waracle has another great review of push notification services that’s worth a look.

It’s all well and good having a great push notification service running in your app, but if your not clear about how you use it, it’s going to do little for you. This is a good read if your looking to improve app engagement from your push notification services.

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