Let's imagine i'm building a football gamblers app. In my app the user can "follow" the game that is currently "active" (The closest game that the user has gambled on).

The main screen will show the user the summary of the game details, and theres an option to create "reminders" (Which is some text the user put, exm. "Buy Beer for the game on way home" and add reminder time to it, exm. "30 mins before game starts").

My push notifications system will send a notification to the user on any change of the game details/status (Game started, goal, half-time etc.), and any reminder the user asked for.

Making sure the user saw the notification is not crucial, but I do want the user to be aware and alerted with the new information that just arrived (Game started, it's time to get beer, etc...). When app is in background/not working state, it's pretty obvious (Especially since my platform is iPhone...) - User will get notification, tapping it will send him to my app to see all the information he need.

My problem is when the app is working, the user can be anywhere in the app, doing anything, and I need to inform him of the new info, making sure he understands that he just got a notification with this new information, without annoying/bothering him...

This is what I have at the moment:

  • Custom sound for the push, which will play both if the app is in background or foreground, making the statement of "U just received something"
  • Standart Alert View (The iPhone standart alert) showing "Game Notification" or "Reminder Notification" as title, and the information as message, with only one "Close" button.

Example for what I currently have

This is what I tried and canceled:

  • "Force-navigating" the user the right screen to see the information (Summary screen when it's game push, Reminders screen for reminder push...) - Canceled for being too annoying and confusing (Even with the "push-sound" in the background)

This is what I thought of:

  • Showing a custom-created "Push-banner" on the top of the screen that dissapears after 3 secs (Like the ones on the iPhone when the app is in background but the users uses the iPhone for something else at the moment) - This is Whatsapp solution for the similar case when the user uses whatsapp and receives a message on a conversation he's not currently watching. - Might still be confusing cuz the user might think this is a push for different app, or just decide to ignore it for any reason, and than there's nothing that will keep informing him of the new info, where if the app in background - he will still have that push in the Notification Center until he will do something about it, and with alert i'm forcing him to pay attention to the push, but once he clicks "Close" he can keep doing whatever he was doing on my app.

Banner-push notification

What will be the best approach in this case?

BTW Apple does use an Alert View instead of the normal push for the Airport (Which is not really a push, but is maybe a similar situation)


2 Answers 2


If your notification is so important that it just can't tolerate any delay in user attention then nothing shorter of a dialog box can do. Otherwise how about a red icon like that of facebook notifications on the desktop site.

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It attracts attention but doesn't distract! And once the user has seen it, it's gone!


I have worked on something similar, and let me tell you, the solution depends upon the importance of the message being delivered to the user. For instance, I worked on a banking app where it's critical for the user to respond to the alert, failing which, the functionality of the app is impaired.

If you believe the importance of the alert is not critical, then I believe "Whatsapp" style banner makes perfect sense because:

  1. It's non intrusive. The banner disappears automatically
  2. It doesn't break the users flow or force the user to take any action.

That being said, if you think the importance of alert is critical, then Standard Alerts view is the way to go forward.

It's always a terrible idea to force the user to do something. User must always be given a choice, and in your case, if the user decided to view the alert, and decides to ignore it, you should not be worried.

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