Over the last year, the power of push notifications has become increasingly clear. News organizations are sending them with ever more regularity, while Google and Apple, the creators of the dominant mobile platforms, have released new technologies that now make a range of new formats possible.
The technological advancements, paired with an ever more complex landscape of news distribution, has created opportunities for publishers to creatively convey news on the lock screen with a variety of media.
The Guardian US Mobile Innovation Lab has been pioneering with its notification experiments. It has created industry-first live notification formats that take advantage of emerging technical capabilities. It has also brought utility and relevance to users’ mobile experiences, filling their lock screens with live coverage elements, rather than only links to content.
Their most impactful formats have been:
Live data through web notifications:
On June 23, 2016, the lab sent a set of notifications about the EU referendum, offering automatically updating results as well as reader interaction via a live poll. Sent via Chrome browsers on Android devices via gdnmobilelab.com.
Live data with visualization:
On November 8, 2016, the lab and the Guardian created a single automatically updated notification containing continually refreshed vote results, displayed in a data visualization and annotated with key events. Sent via the Guardian’s iOS and Android apps.
Live video stream in an expanded notification:
On January 20, 2017, the lab sent a single notification containing a live video feed, annotated to give context, sent for the duration of the US presidential inauguration in January 2017. Sent within iOS on the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab’s app.
Live video notifications took advantage of a new iOS 10 notification content extension, released in June 2016, allowing an app to download or add custom content to notifications, including inserting a live video stream via an http live streaming video file.
The lab has looked at a number of signals to gauge effectiveness and impact: