Google Brings Firebase Cloud Messaging to More of the Web

Google today said it is expanding Web support for Firebase Cloud Messaging beyond Chrome to other Web browsers, including Firefox and Opera. The move, enabled by a new JavaScript Library, will allow developers to send push notifcations from their apps to end-user devices via the browser. 

There's no arguing that notifications are hugely important. Purveyors of operating systems, hardware, and applications all want their notifications to be informative, yet unobtrusive; useful, yet dismissable. Some are better than others at delivering the right balance. Google says bringing app-based notifications to its own Chrome brower has been a huge success. It claims more than 10 billion notifications are being sent to Web sites every single day. Chrome adoption is good, but there are plenty of other browsers around the world that cotinue to hold significant marketshare. 

Enter Firebase Cloud Messaging for the Web. Firebase already supports sending messages through Android and iOS apps, as well as via Chrome. Beginning today, developers can use Firebase to send notifications to most any browser that supports the open Push API. This means Chrome for mobile and desktop (v50+), Opera mobile (v37+), Firefox for desktop and mobile (v44+) and others. Support for Microsoft's Edge browser on Windows 10 PCs, and Samsung's native browser on mobile devices will arrive further down the road. 

Google says the FCM JavaScript library handles complex server-side features, such as Payload Encryption and service workers. Developers can use a default service worker if they wish, but can easily replace it with Google's. More to the point, Google says developers who use the FCM APIs can allow Google to manage the payload encryption without changing any of their own server settings. 

The FCM JavaScript library offers a fair amount of customization and fine-tuning. For example, developers can target single devices, topics, or groups. Further, Android, iOS, and Web users who have shown interest in particular topics can opt to receive topic-based notifications via the Web, giving developers even more ability to reach potential end users. This requires the use of server-side APIs (details available here.) 

Google believes engaging users and discovering their preferred content types should come first. The technical aspect of Web notifications is a start, but shouldn't be abused as a way to blanket peopel with advertisement-style notifications. It's important to note that end users will need to opt in to receive any type of notifications. 

A Getting Started Guide is available to help developers get on the move with Firebase Cloud Messaging on the Web.

Be sure to read the next Notifications article: Heroku App Webhooks Now Generally Available