Reach your app audience with in-app or inbox messages, or send push notifications to reach them outside of your app. Apple News publishers can also send Apple News notifications.

The app channel consists of users who download and install your Airship SDK-integrated app. When you send a message to your app channel, you can reach anybody using your app on iOS, Android, or Amazon mobile platforms.

You can send messages to users on individual platforms within your app audience — for example, if you only wanted to message Android users to let them know there is an update for your app. While all platforms in the app channel support all the message types listed on this page, each platform within the app channel supports independent settings and overrides, so you can customize your messages for users on all the platforms in your app channel.

Push Notifications

A push notification is a message that can appear on any screen on a mobile device. Push notifications appear as banners.

Though we mainly experience push notifications as banner alerts on a smartphone, push notifications may contain many other kinds of data such as sounds, badge updates, interactive button configurations, and more:

  • Alert users when they are not in the app.
  • Pass extra data to users for marketing/segmentation use.
  • Keep users engaged with your app over time.

Use cases:

  • Breaking news
  • Score updates
  • Transaction confirmation/etc
  • Social interactions
  • New content available

In-App Messages

An in-app message is a message that appears inside of your app. You can send in-app messages to your entire app audience, not just users who have opted-in to push notifications. Use in-app messages to engage with users as they browse your app and users who opted out of push notifications, may not have seen your push notification, or users who saw the notification but opened the app without interacting with it. You can create relevant, branded in-app notifications, and reach both opted-out and opted-in users unobtrusively.

There are two variations of in-app messages.

TypeDisplay FormatDisplay TimingCreation Methods
StandardBannerUpon opening the app. May also be controlled via AutomationA set of conditions that your audience must meet before they receive a message. .
  • API
  • Dashboard
In-App AutomationBanner, modal, or fullscreenStored on the user’s device then displayed according to defined triggers.
  • Dashboard

See the In-App Message Reference for detail.

Use cases:

  • Welcome Messages: Communicate the value of your app and highlight key features.
  • Push and Location Opt-In Prompts: Explain the value of your notifications to drive opt-in rates.
  • Feature Education: Drive adoption of critical/new features that promote retention.
  • Onboarding Messages: A series of messages educate users about the app over time.
  • App Reviews: Prompt users to rate your app after positive experiences.
  • Registration/Login: Drive registrations and logins to your loyalty program or account.
  • Profile Enhancement: Promote the benefits of a completed profile, and provide a link to the relevant page in your app. Encourage your users to take a second to personalize their experience, and increase engagement and retention.
  • App Updates: Send your users an in-app message highlighting your app’s newest features, or encourage users on older versions to update the app. If you just added a new page or have some new content, make sure to include a Deep Link so that they can find it quickly.
  • Ongoing Promotions: If you have a promotion that users can take advantage of at any time — such as a discount for inviting a friend or for taking a survey — an in-app message serves as a convenient reminder.

These experiences are typically hard-coded by app developers and cannot be updated without custom development and app store updates. With In-App Automation, you create and update these on the fly in the Airship dashboard, without custom development.

Message Center

Message Center is both a place in your app where you can display persistent rich messages, including HTML, video, etc., and a message type. Similar to email, Message Center represents both the medium (the in-app inbox) and the message type (the messages you send to the inbox).

Message content is hosted by Airship, and you can choose to display the messages and the message lists any way you wish, according to the look and feel of your app. We do our part by hosting the rich content, alerting users of new content via push notifications, and managing the state (read, unread, deleted, etc.) of each user’s messages.

Reach Opted-out Users
Message Center messages are not push notifications, but you can use push notifications to alert users that new rich content is available. Because Message Center messages do not require a user to opt in to push notifications, you can reach your opted-out audience with Message Center.
More Opportunities to Engage
When users interact with Message Center, e.g., read, delete, tap a button, Airship tracks the interactions and makes them available via our analytics offerings, Real-Time Data StreamingA service that delivers engagement events in real time via the Data Streaming API or an Airship partner integration. and Performance AnalyticsA customizable marketing intelligence tool that provides access to reports and graphs based on engagement data. .

By providing engaging content and facilitating interactions via Message Center, you can also trigger other Actions such as adding a tag, or triggering a follow-up notification.

Simple Theming
Theming your Message Center to match the look and feel of your app is easy, requiring changes configuration file in your iOS or Android/Amazon project. Change the colors, fonts, backgrounds and icons to match your branding.

See Styling the iOS Message Center and Styling the Android Message Center to get started.

More benefits:

  • Persistent inbox
  • Customized per user, according to how you target individual users
  • Delete/Mark as read/unread
  • Customizable UI, or use out-of-the-box
  • Data/Reporting
  • JavaScript Bridge

  • Message Center inboxes are limited to 250 messages. Exceeding the limit deletes the oldest messages first.
  • Message Center messages expire after 1 year.

Apple News Notifications

An Apple News notification is a push notification that links to an Apple News story and is delivered via the Apple News app on iOS and macOS. Delivery is immediate. If the selected story is still processing, it will send when the story is live.

Apple News notifications are available to select publishers. If you are interested in sending Apple News notifications, please contact your Airship Account Manager.

Sending Methods

You can send all to all app channel message types from the Airship dashboard. You can send push notifications, standard in-app messages, and Message Center inbox messages from the API; Apple News notifications and In-App AutomationMessages that are cached on users' devices and displayed when your users meet certain conditions within your app, such as viewing a particular screen or opening the app a certain number of times. Messages sent using in-app automation can be styled as a banner, modal, or fullscreen. do not have API support.

In the dashboard, you can set different optional feature settings for each individual platform in the app channel. Otherwise, the message itself is the same across all platforms. In the API, you can customize all aspects of a message for each platform in the app channel, so you could potentially send different messages to your iOS, Android, and Amazon users in the same payload.

AutomationA set of conditions that your audience must meet before they receive a message. and JourneysA series of messages that is initiated by a single automation trigger. Airship sends messages in the series based on your timing settings, and you can also set conditions that determine the continuation of the series. support push notifications, standard in-app messages, and Message Center inbox messages. Automation can be set up in the dashboard or the API. Journeys are available in the dashboard only.

You can include push notifications and standard in-app messages in an A/B TestUsed to send variants of a message to cross-sections of your audience. Each variant in the test returns data to help you determine the most effective ways to engage your audience. A/B tests support up to 26 variants and a control group per test. . A/B tests are available in both the dashboard and API.


Personalization is the ability to populate messages with data specific to each individual recipient, ensuring that your audience receives messages that are specific and relevant to them.

Use handlebarsAirship’s message personalization syntax using double curly braces, more commonly known as {{handlebars}}. Use handlebars to insert variables and conditional logic in messages and templates. to personalize messages and message actions, adding simple merge fields or complex logic to determine the content you want your audience to see. When you send a message, Airship evaluates your handlebars to populate content for each member of your audience.

You can personalize any message using AttributesMetadata that you can use to group and target your audience. Attributes differ from tags in that when evaluating users with attributes, Airship uses operators, e.g., equals, less than/greater than, contains, before/after, to determine whether or not to target a user. Supported attribute types are TEXT, NUMBER, and DATE. . When setting up automation pipelines or journeys using a custom event trigger, you can also personalize messages using custom event properties.

Learn more in the Personalization feature guide.

Localization Support for App Channels

Airship’s localization feature provides a way to send a single message with multiple localizations. You can prepare localizations based on language information or localeThe combination of a language and country. A user’s locale is determined by their device settings. for more specific, regional localizations. Airship delivers localized messages to your audience according to language and country information gathered by the Airship SDK.

See the Localization feature guide for more information.

Configuration and Requirements

Push is included in every version of our SDK, and no dashboard configuration is required.

Standard In-app messages require the SDK 6.0 or later, and In-App Automation requires the SDK 9.0 or later.

Message Center requires the SDK 7.0 or later. Message Center platform integration:

In order to send Apple News notifications via Airship, you must be an Apple News Publisher.

Follow the steps in the messaging project tutorials to get started with creating a project and integrating the Airship SDK. If you are using an earlier SDK, see our iOS and Android migration guides.


Try sending messages now, using our 1st Flight app. No development required!