Messaging basics

Learn about what you can send and how you can send it.

Key terms

A channel is a communication medium supported by the Airship service. Supported channels include app, web, email, SMS, and Open Channels. Within some channels there may be specific platforms with individual characteristics. Example platforms include Chrome for the web channel and Android for the mobile app channel.
The dashboard is Airship’s web interface located at or
A composer is a tool for creating messages using the dashboard. Composers are defined by what you can include and control: message types, delivery, and automation.

Message types: What you can send

App channels support multiple message types:

Push notification
A push notification is a message that can appear on any screen on a mobile device. Push notifications appear as banners.
In-app message
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.
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).
Scene AXP
Scenes are multi-screen experiences 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.
Survey AXP
Surveys are question-and-answer experiences used to collect and aggregate feedback or generate a net promoter score. They 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.
Live Activity AXP
A Live Activity displays current data from your app on the iPhone Lock Screen and in the Dynamic Island. Live Activities are available using the API only. See: iOS Live Activities.

Web also supports push notifications:

Web push notification
A web push notification is a message that slides into the top right or bottom left corner of your audience’s web browser (depending on the browser). On a mobile device, web push notifications appear similar to a push notification.

These message types are synonymous with their channel:

An SMS is a message that you can send to an MSISDN (phone number) over the SMMP protocol to devices that have opted in for a specific sender ID (long or short code). SMS messages appear in recipients’ native SMS clients. Generally speaking, SMS is inclusive of MMS.
Email is an HTML or plain-text message that you send to registered users. Email notifications appear in recipients’ email inboxes.
Open channel
An Open channel message can be sent to any medium that can accept a JSON payload.

Message components

Whatever message type you create, the building blocks of a message are:

  • Audience — The channels you want to send your message to and the users on those channels.
  • Content — The text, media, and settings that determine how the message is experienced by your audience.
  • Delivery — The timing and other options that determine when the message is sent.

Composers: How you can send it

These composers support a single channel and a single message type:

These composers support all channels and all other message types not listed above:

Supported channels and message types per composer:

ComposerChannelsMessage Types
A/B Test
Push notification
In-app message (standard format)
Message Center (Not supported for A/B Tests)
Web push notification
Open channel
In-App AutomationAppIn-app message (In-App Automation format)
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