Over the last several weeks, Apple has been using its iOS apps to send a wave of push notifications to users. Just today, Apple is sending a push notification to Apple Music users informing them that Apple Music is now supported on Amazon Echo devices. This is just the most recent example of Apple’s newfound obsession with sending push notifications to users.
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In the last month, Apple has sent a flurry of push notifications to iOS users ranging from iPhone XR promotions to HomePod promotions, Carpool Karaoke episode releases, and more.
Last week, users flocked to Twitter to complain that they received a push notification from the TV application on iOS about an “All-new CarPool Karaoke” episode with Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber. The notification was sent shortly after the episode’s premier and acting on it launched the TV app for viewing it.
This isn’t the first Carpool Karaoke notification Apple has sent, but it is rare for a single episode to warrant a notification from Apple.
Apple also recently sent a notification through the Apple Store app prompting users to upgrade to the iPhone XR or iPhone XS. The notification said, “Your new iPhone is ready. Choose iPhone XR or iPhone XS and speed through your upgrade today with the iPhone Upgrade Program.”
Further, Apple sent an Apple Store notification directly touting iPhone XR trade-in prices. This notification read, “For a limited time, upgrade to iPhone XR from $449* when you trade in your iPhone. Talk to a Specialist.” This notification came as Apple was pushing iPhone trade-in deals on its website homepage. It seems to be location-based, replacing the generic “Welcome” Apple Store notification you receive when walking into an Apple Store.
Last week, Apple launched a HomePod promotion for Apple Music subscribers, offering $50 off one HomePod. Apple sent a notification through the Apple Music app offering users this promo. Acting on the notification allowed users to place their HomePod order at the discounted price.
In select markets, Apple this week sent users a push notification via the App Store informing them that they could receive a 10 percent bonus when adding funds to their App Store account. While this promotion is available to everyone, it’s unclear what the criteria is for the push notification.
Finally, Apple today celebrated the launch of Apple Music support on Amazon Echo with a notification, again through the Music app, informing users of the launch. This notification read, “New, Apple Music on Amazon Echo. Now you can ask Alexa to play your favorite artists, songs, and more. Tap to get started.”
Humorously, Apple regularly touts that Apple Music has “zero ads,” though one might consider this notification an ad in and of itself.
What’s interesting about Apple’s choice of push notifications is whether or not they are “targeted” in anyway. For instance, it’s clear why almost everyone received the Kendall Jenner Carpool Karaoke alert, even if they had expressed no interest in the Carpool Karaoke series.
In the case of the Apple Music + Amazon Echo notification, it’s unclear how Apple would target users. Apple could base it on whether or not a user has the Alexa app installed, or if they have ever installed it in the past. Alternatively, it could just be a blanket notification sent to Apple Music subscribers in the United States.
Further, there’s the question of whether or not Apple is violating its own App Store guidelines with these notifications. In the App Store guidelines, Apple says that push notifications can’t be used for advertising, promotions, or direct marketing purposes:
Push Notifications must not be required for the app to function, and should not be used for advertising, promotions, or direct marketing purposes or to send sensitive personal or confidential information. Abuse of these services may result in revocation of your privileges.
Of course, these notifications could be prevented by users going into the Settings app on iOS and disabling notifications for the apps in questions. This presents its own set of problems, however, as each app only offers a certain level of notification granularity. Further, the Apple Music app doesn’t even offer notification control aside from “Friend Activity” and “Artists and Shows.” It’s unclear which, if either, category the Amazon Echo notification falls into.
What do you think of Apple’s choice in push notifications? Is it something that bothers you or are you ok with it? Let us know down in the comments.
ついにApple Storeから課金を推奨されたんだけどwww pic.twitter.com/G5RaYA5Afc
— べこーん天空 (@kaiteikenn) December 17, 2018
Got a phone notification telling me about the new carpool karaoke with Kendall Jenner, I don’t know why I got this since I truly don’t give a fuck
— Priceless (@PricelessTheOne) December 8, 2018
Why did Apple just send me a notification about an all new carpool karaoke, something I've never watched and have absolutely no interest in?
— Mark Fletcher 📎 (@wingedpig) December 14, 2018
Why did my phone just send a notification via the TV app that a new carpool karaoke episode featuring Kendall Jenner is out??
1) I have never watched an episode of carpool karaoke
2) I give no fucks about any Kardashian or Jenner.
3) I have never used iPhone’s tv app
— 𝕄𝕖𝕒𝕘𝕒𝕟 𝕎𝕚𝕝𝕔𝕠𝕩 (@meagan_wilcox) December 8, 2018
I just received a push notification for the offer (not an email) pic.twitter.com/L9R9M4bZNv
— Oliver Thomas (@ulliverti) December 13, 2018
Aren’t advertising notifications like this against App Review guidelines? I’m thinking it’s section 4.5.3 which clearly states “Do not use Apple Services to spam, phish, or send unsolicited messages to customers, including Game Center, Push Notifications, etc.” pic.twitter.com/cdcq1lhaTF
— Steve Lederer 🤔 (@stevieled5) December 7, 2018
— Lex (@Just_John10) December 8, 2018