Local Notification Spam!

by Kris Gellci

The notification center of an iPhone 5 running iOS7.  The image shows how local notifications can be used to spam messages to users.

The notification center of an iPhone 5 running iOS7. The image shows how local notifications can be used to spam messages to users.

Local notification spam has been an issue especially in the gaming categories of the app store.  Messages like “Your free spin is ready!”  riddle the devices of casual mobile gamers.  It is a way for mobile game companies to keep their user retention numbers up.  Users using the app longer means more money for developers / companies, this of course comes at the expense of a good user experience via abuse of a seemingly innocent API.

Local Notifications are as powerful as Push Notifications when it comes to grabbing the users attention, it’s about time that they are treated as such.  In iOS8, app developers will now need to ask users for their permission to schedule local notifications just as they would for sending push notifications.  Thats right! No more spam.  Users can now download games from the app store without the fear of being molested by the unsolicited notifications popping up on their phone, sometimes late at night.

This of course will impact the user base of many applications which are using the local notification reminder trick to keep their users coming back to their app.  There should be no impact on developers who were not abusing this system to keep their user retention high.  It would be interesting to see the advertising revenue graphs of some big name apps as I am sure they will be impacted by this seemingly small change in the framework.