Google Adds Web Support for Firebase Cloud Messaging

With the addition of web support, developers can now use Firebase Cloud Messaging to send push notifications to Firefox, Opera and Chrome.

Google Firebase Cloud Messaging

Starting this week, software developers will be able to use Google's Firebase Cloud Messaging technology to send push notifications from their applications and services to Firefox, Opera and other browsers in addition to Chrome. That's courtesy of new web support for FCM in the form of a JavaScript library that Google announced this week.

The web support extends the number of browsers supported by FCM and will enable simpler implementation of push notifications on the web, Pinar Ozlen, Google software engineer, wrote on the Firebase Blog.

"Notifications are one of the most compelling tools for developers to build engaging experiences," Ozlen said. However, developers have often complained about the challenges of implementing it on the web. The new FCM web support should help address some of those challenges, she noted.

FCM, originally known as Google Cloud Messaging, is a messaging platform that lets developers deliver notifications and messages to Android and iOS applications and, up to now, Chrome browsers. The technology is designed to give developers a way to send notifications to users, like those related to data synchronization or special offers and updates.

The technology allows messages and notifications to be pushed to individual devices or groups of devices, or as Google says, even by specific topics to which users might be subscribed.

With this week's announcement, developers will be able to use FCM to send such notifications to users of any browser that supports the Push Application Programing Interface, an API for sending push messages to web applications. This allows developers to go beyond Chrome to other browsers like Firefox and Opera. Supported browsers include Version 50 and onwards of Chrome Desktop and Mobile, version 44+ of Firefox and version 37+ of Opera on mobile.

FCM will support messages with payloads of up to 4k sent either to or from devices.

The new FCM JavaScript Library will manage server-side tasks that are considered complex like payload encryption and so-called service workers, or browser scripts that run in the background without any user interaction, Ozlen said. This makes it easier for developers to enable push notifications on the Web, she said.

Push notifications currently are not available on Microsoft's Edge browser, but the browser will be covered once its supports the Push API and message payloads. The same is true of the Samsung browser.

Before releasing the new FCM JavaScript library, Google worked with early adopters to test and refine the technology, Ozlen said.

Among those who participated in the tests were China's Alibaba.com and Settle Up, an online app for helping users track shared expenses.

Settle Up wanted to be able to notify users when changes occurred to a shared bill and decided to use FCM to enable the capability, Ozlen said. The startup saw 37 percent higher engagement from users who received such notifications compared to those who did not, she claimed.

Similarly, Alibaba.com's AliExpress online retail market place experienced a 178 percent higher conversion rate after enabling pushing notifications via FCM, compared to mobile users who did not receive them, according to Ozlen.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.