Xamarin: Join Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak at Xamarin Evolve 2016

Join us at Xamarin Evolve 2016 for a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Apple co-founder and computing pioneer Steve Wozniak take the stage to share his unique perspective on the software industry’s past, present, and future. An electronics genius in his early teens, Steve Wozniak (“Woz”) teamed up at age 19 with 14 […]

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Xamarin: Contest: Show Us Your Favorite C# 6 Feature

C# 6 includes a wealth of new features to make you a more productive developer, simplify your code, and vastly increase readability. This builds on an already great foundation that makes C# the best language for mobile development, such as easy asynchronous operations with async/await, generics support, and more. If you use Xamarin Studio or […]

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Gerald Versluis: Push notifications with Xamarin introduction

For a few recent projects, like my haveibeenpwned app I had to implement push notifications. Also this is one of the most frequently asked questions on the Xamarin forums which is not that odd because it is a main feature of almost every app.

Throughout a series of posts I will show you how you can implement push notifications in your Xamarin (Forms) app. This first of five(!!) posts will introduce you to the wonderful world of push. This introduction, the iOS app, Android app, Windows Phone app and the server-side of things will be handled.

Push notifications are a handy way of updating your users without them having to open up your app all the time or having you app poll a server, which has a negative impact on the battery-life as well.

But what would one need to implement push notifications?


There are many ways to do this as we’ll see in this post. The bare basics involve only this:

  • A server which sends out the notifications at certain triggers
  • The app has to implement registering for push notifications

That’s right, just a simple client/server scenario. The server can be anything: a console application which runs on a timed schedule, the result of a call to your REST API back-end or a trigger when certain data is inserted on your database.

Unfortunately it’s not that easy.

If you look at the bigger picture there is another party involved which would be the provider of the notifications;

  • Apple Push Notification service (APNs)
  • Google Cloud Messaging (GCM)
  • Windows Push Notification Service (WNS)

All your push notifications have to go through their corresponding providers service.

This adds a first layer of complexity on both you server and client side. You have to send the same push notification to three providers from your server and also have to implement three ways of registering for push on the client side.

Luckily for us lazy developers other developers have solved this for us. There are a number of (free) services which provide a solution for having to send custom notifications to Apple, Google and/or Microsoft. One of the most well-known is Parse by Facebook. But beware; they are pulling the plug!

But there are a lot of alternatives which offer the same functionality. Have a look at: Batch, Urban Airship and not the least of them Azure Notification Hub. My examples will describe the latter.

Why, I hear you asking? Because Azure is awesome. They offer great services at low prices or even free in some cases! Notification Hub being one of them. As long as you don’t have over 500 device registrations and don’t send over a million notifications you can do it for nothing! And beyond that the pricing is reasonable as well.

Also it is not very likely they will kill this service at least not while providing a reasonable alternative. And you are using Xamarin! So you want to use .net and chances are your backend will me .net as well so while you’re at it host that in Azure to and manage it all from one place. Your push server can easily be setup with a REST server in Azure Web Apps or that console application I mentioned earlier with WebJobs. Again they have a free variant to get you a head start.

Lastly everyone seems to use Azure nowadays. That shouldn’t be a reason for you to follow blindly, but it does mean that there is a lot of documentation and even SDKs you can leverage.

The thing all these services have in common is that you have one entry point to send messages across all platforms, they provide a layer of abstraction for you so you can treat push notifications as a whole instead of three separate providers.
In the case of Azure you even have the possibility to create universal push messages. More about this later.
Also they take over the registration administration of devices for you and add a layer of abstraction where you can work with so-called tags. You can let a device subscribe on one or more tags which can be anything from a unique identifier to a news category on which hundreds, thousands or even millions of devices can be registered. Then when there is breaking news in a certain category just send out your message on the corresponding tag and Azure will determine which devices have to receive it. Again; more on this later on.

On the client side we’re going to have to implement some platform specific code. There is no escaping that. And although there is at least one good plugin available by rdelrosario I will be implementing the code on the apps manually to give you a better understanding of what is going on.

So that takes care of the basic understanding of push notifications. The next posts will be about implementing the app code and lastly the server code bringing it all together. If you have any request about what you would like to read or questions, just let me know!

Xamarin: Podcast: Simplify Your Code With C# 6

This week on the Xamarin Podcast, Mike and I are joined by James Montemagno to overview all of the fantastic features introduced in C# 6 to simplify your code and bring readability to a new level. Subscribe or Download Today Knowing the latest in .NET, C#, and Xamarin is easier than ever with the Xamarin […]

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Xamarin: Report an Exception with Xamarin Insights Contest Winner

Proactively monitoring the health of your mobile apps is crucial to ensuring a bug-free, positive user experience. Xamarin Insights makes it extremely simple to do this by identifying what issues real users are facing and how to fix them. Xamarin Insights was promoted to general availability in Xamarin 4, giving all Xamarin subscribers access to […]

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Adam J Wolf: Weekly Xamarin Newsletter Issue #78

Easy App Theming with Xamarin.Forms Pierce Boggan, from Xamarin Inc., shows how you can switch your apps theme with Xamarin.Forms. Xamarin vs. Hybrid HTML: Making the Right Choice for the Enterprise Courtney Witmer, from Xamarin Inc., puts up the webinar recording. Stretchy UITableView Headers with Xamarin Mike James is keen on the parallax header and […]

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Xamarin: Consulting Partners Bring Real-World Experiences to Xamarin Evolve 2016

Since launching the Xamarin Consulting Partner program in 2012, the network has grown to over 350 partners worldwide. We’re excited to showcase the expertise from the following partners at Xamarin Evolve 2016 and we encourage you to attend to learn from these successful companies. Zühlke: Is Your App Secure? There’s a lot of discussion about […]

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Xamarin: Easy App Theming with Xamarin.Forms

Beautiful user interfaces sell mobile apps, and designing a successful user experience for your app is a great first step for success. But what about all of the little details that combine to create a fantastic design, such as colors and fonts? Even if you create what you believe to be the perfect design, users will often […]

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