Messaging basics

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 message that can appear on any screen on a mobile device. Push notifications appear as banners.
  • In-app message — 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 — A place in your app where you can display persistent rich messages, including HTML, video, etc. Similar to email, Message Center represents both the medium (the in-app inbox) and the message type (the messages you send to the inbox).

Web also supports push notifications:

  • Web push notification — 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:

  • SMS — 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.
  • Email — An HTML or plain-text email that you send to registered users. Email notifications appear in recipients' email inboxes.
  • Open channel — A message you can send 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 all channels and message types:

These composers support a single channel and message type: