Open Channels

Open channels provide a way to send messages to devices and apps that aren’t natively supported by Airship. An open channel is essentially any internet-connected device that can accept and interpret a JSON payload.

Use Cases

The simplest use case for a notification is the one we are all familiar with: displaying the text of an alert. But there are many other uses for a notification payload, which, depending on the target interface or OS, may be handled in different ways. For example, our SDKs for iOS and Android support the interactive features of those operating systems through our API. Our API also supports an extra field, which lets you to pass any key/value pair to handle how you see fit, e.g., update a config file or trigger a different process.

An open channel can be any non-native platform or interface where you’d like to reach users, or for that matter any client capable of receiving a payload over the Internet. The end message doesn’t need to be human-readable alert text as you might see on an iPhone. Alerts are usually intended for people, but in the case of a machine, you could tell it to update its firmware, increment a counter in a database, or perform some other action. Use cases include:

  • Automated Slack Message using Slack incoming webhooks
  • Chatbot notifications
  • Firmware updates for IOT devices
  • Integrate with third-party messaging APIs, e.g., Twitter

Open Channel Notifications and Sending Methods

You can send open channel notifications individually or combine them with other channels. You can also send open channel notifications using AutomationA set of conditions that your audience must meet before they receive a message. , 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. , and A/B TestsUsed 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. .


In some situations, you can personalize your messages with templates or 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. directly in a message. Learn more about templates and the information you can pass to templates or Airship’s personalization syntax in the Personalization feature guide.

Configuration and Requirements

Open channels do not support the Airship SDK and are not a native part of our platform. Therefore, you have to integrate your open channel with Airship to perform the major operations that the SDK or a natively supported channel affords:

  1. Register users through the open channels API.
  2. Determine how to parse and display JSON notification payloads in your app or open channel device. This requires a webhook server to accept an open delivery payload, translate the payload, and route your request to your app or device.

While open channels require some development work on your end, integrating your open channel with Airship extends most of the features of our platform to additional channels, providing you with an additional way to communicate with your audience.