Eugene Saturow Head of Flutter

    In-App Notifications on Flutter: What They Give to Your Business

    Keeping users engaged is what every app aims for, and in-app notifications are a great way to achieve it, whether it’s built with a native or cross-platform framework, such as Flutter. Local notification can be useful for announcing special promotions or guiding users towards desired actions. With the help of audience segmentation and triggers, they can be fully customized and be as relevant as possible for every user.

    Surf has over 12 years of experience building mobile apps and digital solutions for various industries and is a Google-certified Flutter development company that provides full-cycle development services. In the article, we’ll review the features of in-app notifications, how businesses can use them to their advantage, and why Flutter is such a capable platform when it comes to establishing communication between an application and its users.

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    Flutter benefits for in-app notifications

    Flutter cross-platform development framework has numerous benefits that streamline the development process and help to achieve great results. This is true as well when it comes to creating Flutter in-app notifications. 

    Cross-platform compatibility supplied by Flutter allows developers to create apps for iOS and Android (as well as desktop ones for macOS, Windows, Linux, and web) from a single codebase. This means saving time and resources by not writing separate sets of code for each platform.

    High performance. The framework utilizes a reactive programming model and Dart programming language, as well as skips Java ‘bridge’, communicating directly with the device’s components. All of this results in high performance and smooth functioning of in-app notifications.

    Customizable UI. Flutter comes with a rich set of pre-designed widgets that allow extensive customization of the application’s look and feel, including the creation of unique and visually appealing notifications. 

    Hot Reload feature allows developers to see code changes without reloading the whole application, decreasing the development time and providing space for experiments. Visit FlutterDevs portal for more details on this.

    The support of Firebase Cloud Messaging (formerly known as Google Cloud Messaging), a popular tool for sending notifications to Android and iOS devices with a single piece of code, makes it easier to create and send both push and in-app notifications in native and Flutter apps.

    For example, the solution was used by Surf in a mobile app for a social network to create notifications on replies to users’ posts and comments.

    social network app
    Social network app by Surf

    Flutter in-app vs push notifications 

    Now, let’s dive into the two types of notifications available: push and in-app (local) ones. There are several key differences between them.

    • App states. In-app notifications are used to communicate with a user while they have the application opened, and push notifications can be received even when it is closed or the phone’s screen is locked.
    • Delivery process. While in-app notifications are produced and sent locally, pushes are delivered from a remote server.
    • Customization. In contrast to pushes that can be customized (sound, appearance) or simply turned off by the end user, in-app notifications don’t provide such an ability and can be disabled only via the applications’s backend.

    On the more technical side of things, since Android and iOS handle notifications differently in various OS versions, they should be configured with platform-specific settings in Flutter. A plugin InitializationSettings is created for both platforms, while a platform-specific NotificationDetails instance handles the configurations of in-app notifications. The scheduling is implemented by calling the zoneSchedule method of the FlutterLocalNotificationsPlugin, which receives an instance from the timezone package. Also, such APIs as OneSignal (used by Surf for a neobank app) help to streamline the process of sending notifications to large audiences.

    neobank mockup
    Neobank app by Surf

    Why businesses use in-app notifications

    Used properly, in-app notification can improve the onboarding process, user retention and product adoption rates. Their main areas of usage include the following. 

    Highlighting new features and offers

    An app must ‘re-train’ its users whenever it gets an update or modification. Flutter in-app notification can do a great job of conducting walkthroughs and directing user attention to all the right places. By making announcements within an application, a company can ensure they are seen by the user, while reducing (or diversifying) presence in other marketing channels, such as email and social media, which are more suitable for announcing major updates.

    For instance, Surf’s video streaming app developed with Flutter notifies users about new episodes of their favorite shows and stimulates them to discover new ones.

    video streaming app
    Video streaming app by Surf

    Guidance for new users

    In-app notifications are perfect for instructing recently onboarded users on the capabilities of an app, guiding them across various screens, showcasing functionality and usage scenarios. As a result, the business can achieve better overall product adoption, which is especially important for apps with complex user flows.

    In-app notification solution is largely utilized by a Flutter-powered enterprise app created by Surf. The application  unites all corporate activities and provides an education platform for employees. Taking into consideration the diverse set of activities available in the app, from digital courses and tests to employees’ leaderboards and loyalty program, it was important to educate newcomers on the features and how to use them. This was partly implemented via in-app notification highlighting key steps in every use case scenario.

    Enterprise app by Surf

    More cross-selling opportunities

    By delivering contextual information relevant to a particular screen or action, in-app notification can be used for upselling and cross-selling products or services. For example, when a user is about to complete a purchase, a notification may suggest increasing the checkout total above a certain threshold by adding another item to get a bigger discount or achieve a loyalty program’s new level.

    For example, when creating a native app for a large retailer, Surf implemented various notifications that all had the purpose of driving user engagement: info on weekly discounts, new content in a built-in healthy lifestyle social club, as well as notification about a claim submitted to the quality department being processed.

    delivery app
    App for large retailer by Surf

    Feedback collection

    Also, in-app notification is a perfectly suitable tool for assessing NPS (net partner score). It is a common practice to notify users on the completion of a use case scenario, such as checkout or call. An in-app notification may suggest simply giving a 1 to 5-star rating to the services provided or ask for a more detailed review. In both cases, such an immediate notification often works better than emails, since it prompts a user to share their impressions right away, when they are more likely to have time for it and haven’t yet forgotten the details worth mentioning.

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    Summing things up

    Local notification can be extremely useful for driving user engagement, showcasing new features, and informing on important events within the Flutter-powered app even when a device is not connected to the Internet. All of this makes properly implemented in-app notification an indivisible element of a high-end user experience.Having a diverse cross-industrial portfolio and over a decade of development experience, Surf is here to help with your Flutter project for mobile, web, and desktop platforms. Whether it is in-app notifications or any other element of an application or development stage, our team always strives to create a product fully aligned with the client’s requirements and goals.