Is there anything similar to APNS (Apple Push Notification Service) on Android?

(APNS uses a single TCP connection between an iOS device and an Apple-controlled server, which issues push notifications for all the installed apps on a given device, thus preventing the need for the individual apps to each maintain their own network connections for the push notifications.)

If Android doesn't have anything similar to APNS, doesn't this mean that an equivalent set of apps would always require more standby power on Android than on iOS?


Historically, in order to promote battery life, Apple did not let the apps run in the background (until iOS 4.0 release in June 2010), but did provide this APNS (Apple Push Notification Service), which would let the app developers implement certain client functionality on their own third-party servers, which would then push the notification messages to Apple's central notification system (available since iOS 3.0 release in June 2009).

As such, anyone who would have wanted to write an app with any kind of background notifications at all during the whole iOS 3 availability window, would have had to have APNS support implemented, else, their app would have had no multitasking at all.

It would appear that this has never been the case in the Android land. Per my understanding, Google's take on APNS — GCM — Google Cloud Messaging — hasn't really taken off yet, probably because running out of battery in one day is not as evident as not having the background-notifications functionality at all, and the APNS/GCM architectures require the app developers to themselves run the extra servers on their own side, which is obviously not free, either, and would certainly require extra engineering and complexity, for achieving something that's not entirely obvious to the naked eye.

Additionally, according to a question on StackExchange, GCM is a second incarnation of Google's take on APNS, where the first one, now discontinued, was called C2DM (Cloud to Device Messaging Framework). It would appear that C2DM had quotas, which were then abolished with subsequent GCM. The exact dates on the introduction of GCM and C2DM are not clear, however, their device-side parts would appear to be backwards compatible, since they both claim to support Android 2.2 and above. Android 2.2 "Froyo" was first made available May 2010.

  • am reading this and what has that to do with your question...
    – t0mm13b
    Jan 22 '14 at 22:56
  • @t0mm13b, it is a more expanded answer to some questions of interest which have been omitted from the original question. I mean, if you ask about something existing, and it does exist, but not really used that much in reality, wouldn't you be curious of as to why that might be?
    – cnst
    Jan 23 '14 at 0:56

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