I’m new to the Android platform. Apple requires every iOS app to ask for and confirm push notifications, but I have not noticed any apps that I’ve downloaded on my new Android phone prompting me if I want to receive push notifications. It just automatically registers me for them. Is this normal Android convention, to automatically register users for push notifications, assuming they can disable them later?
In my own Android application, should I be prompting users and asking if they want them before I register them? Obviously it would be the polite thing to do to ask permission before signing them up for push notifications, but if that’s not common practice I see no reason to potentially lose some receivers of them.
Making decisions for the user is actually a strong Android guideline. Here is a list of the “Android Design Principles”, written by Google. As you can see “Decide for me, but let me have the final say” fits the behavior that you’ve mentioned.
Some things to keep in mind when discussing Android notifications:
Users can disable your app’s notifications in their OS settings. If they really don’t want to hear from your app, they’ll disable notification’s there.
User context. You don’t know what context the user is installing your app in. Users who are on a crowded train, relaxing on their day off, hanging out at a friend’s place, or maybe waiting for a flight, all want different things out of your app at the time of installation. The guy on a crowded train is going to want your app to work immediately, with very minimal setup, while the guy relaxing at home may not mind a long setup process.
Your setup process can have a significant impact on your user retention. This Forbes article briefly discusses intrusive setup forums and their impact on app uninstalls.
At the end of the day however, it all depends on the needs of your audience. If you’re targeting professionals, then they might be willing to put in some extra time up-front if they believe your app could help make their job easier. If you’re targeting a casual gamer, you’ll want them to get in and rolling as fast as possible. It’s up to you to decide how best to serve your audience.
Here’s a video from Google I/O 2013 that discusses the Android Design Principals in greater detail.
Hope I was able to provide some insight.
Sadly, it does not appear to be a very common practice. I’ve installed several Android applications that will randomly give me a notification in the middle of the night. I’ve recently made a new habit of disabling notifications for every new app that I install unless I really want notifications from it. I think your application would result in a much better user experience if you prompted them for notifications. You could also offer configurations for which notifications they wish to receive. If other apps were like this I might choose to receive some notifications instead of globally turning them off.