Over the past few years, both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have continued to embrace messaging and the user experience around it. As a result, it has become increasingly important for marketers to pay close attention to latest trends and be able to adapt to the many ever-changing updates. Android has been leading the way with enhancing the fidelity of push, while Apple’s introduction of rich push notifications with the rollout of iOS 10 last year has broadened the possibilities of messaging on the platform as we know it.

Every March, Google gives a preview of what to expect on the soon-to-be rolled out updates to the Android OS. This year we saw the preview of Android O, which had a few implications on user communication. The most important of which we will highlight today is notification channels that will allow developers to deliver their push messages in a variety of new ways.

What This Will Look Like

The Android O notification channels will allow both an app developer and a user to better manage the types of notifications they are sending and receiving. These channels will be fully named and managed on the developer side, while the end user will be able to toggle channel settings based on personal preference. For example, a news app will be able to break their updates into categories like “Breaking News,” “Food,” “Sports,” “International,” etc.

On the user’s side, this new feature will provide a consolidated UI system to help manage all notifications. Users will now have the ability to modify an entire notification channel’s settings by a number of dimensions including importance, sound, light, vibration, lockscreen visibility and more. Not only that, but a user can also opt out of an entire channel with one fell swoop.

One item that is being removed during this update is the ability for users to change the priority level of notifications. Instead, the responsibility of maintaining the level of importance will fall on the developer, who now has the option to assign between the ranges of IMPORTANCE_NONE (0) to IMPORTANCE_HIGH (4). Back to that news example, urgency can be increased for “Breaking News” messages, while a topic like “Food” can be listed as less imperative.

This brings up a number of interesting distinctions that marketers will need to make, who now need to be more strategic about what types of messages they are sharing with their users and how they are presenting and iterating on them over time.

Example of how this will look from Google.

How Does This Impact Marketers?

As the craving for more sophisticated mobile messaging continues to increase, Google and Apple have done an excellent job of expanding on the possibilities of their respective platforms. This is a welcome trend for the marketers out there that are looking for more sophisticated ways to engage with their customers via push.

One of the most exciting facets of this development is that with the introduction of notification channels, users can opt out of certain types of messaging instead of the entire app. Perhaps our Scotts My Lawn users love getting that update to water their plant, but don’t care as much for promotions on new products. This new functionality allows for that user to opt out of just the promotional messaging without risking opting out of communications all together.

While it might be tempting to boost up all your notifications to a higher priority, it’s equally as interesting to see how marketers will embrace lower priority channels. This is where you might begin to see marketers getting really creative and driving smaller incremental wins for their products.

Doubling Down on Messaging

While the focus of this post is on Android, this move might also serve as a precursor to what you might expect in the way that Apple continues to build out their messaging capabilities. As we’ve watched Apple follow Android in a number of ways, seeing Android O drop this most recent preview only has us wondering how Apple is going to help their users better manage and maintain their notification preferences. As more marketers begin to communicate with their users through push, the importance of a more streamlined user experience will become table stakes.

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