Automation Composer

Automated Messages are messages that are automatically sent to users when certain conditions are met. Those conditions, or automation rules, are defined via the Automation composer. Messages may be configured for delivery based on various event or inactivity triggers and timing and frequency thresholds.

It may be helpful to think of an Automated Message not as a single message, but rather as an order form for messages, or even a fulfillment of messages. Once the conditions are set, Urban Airship will look for the triggers that you define, and deliver the notifications/messages according to the rules you put in place.

Create a New Automation

Choose your app from the Urban Airship dashboard, then click the Create New button, and select the Automation composer.

Your steps are tracked in the progress header. Completed steps display a green checkmark icon, showing you are ready to proceed. A red (!) icon appears if you need to fix anything. Click a step name to move ahead or to go back and edit.

Your drafts of new messages are saved automatically. If you need to leave the composer, click Exit from the right side of the progress header. Use the dropdown arrow to Delete the message.

Your saved messages are in Messages » Messages Overview » Automated. To abandon changes to a saved message, click Revert & Exit from the right side of the progress header. To proceed with changes to a saved message, click the Update Automation button at the bottom of your window.

Your automation rule’s selected conditions are displayed in a Summary on the right side of the window. The Help tab displays information relevant to the current step. Hover over composer sections to expose a (?) icon. Click the icon, and the Help tab will update with that topic.


Define who will receive your message, and why.

  1. Enter a descriptive Automation Name.

  2. Choose which event type will Trigger sending your message. See Event Triggers for detail.

    • Predicted to Churn: Trigger when a user’s churn risk category changes.

    • Tag Change: Trigger when a tag is added or removed.

    • Inactivity: Trigger after a specified duration of inactivity.

    • First Open: Trigger when app is open for the first time.

    • Location: Trigger when device enters or exits a location.

    • Event: Trigger when an event fires.

  3. Optionally modify which Platforms are included in your audience. All platforms configured for your app will be listed and are enabled by default, but you can toggle to limit your audience to specific platforms. You must select at least one.


Available options are dependent on which trigger is selected.

Rule Limits

Set Rule Limits to define the maximum number of messages this Automation rule will send over a given period of time. The limits set here apply to this automation rule only. Set an automated message delivery limit for this app overall via App-level automation rule limits, an additional Option listed below.

Toggle to enable, then enter the number of messages and days.


Define delivery Conditions for this message by specifying one or more tags that must or must not be present on the device. The message will not be sent at all if the conditions here are not met.

Toggle to enable, then choose whether Any or All of the tag conditions must be satisfied before the message is delivered. For each tag, use the dropdown menu to select either Has or Doesn’t have. Has means that the device must have a selected tag in order for the message to be delivered. Doesn’t Have means that the device must not have a selected tag in order for the message to be delivered.

Type ahead to find tags that exist in the system, or create a new tag.

To add further restrictions, click the Add another condition button to add another tag row.

Cancellation Events

Specify Cancellation Events that will prevent a delayed message from being delivered if a selected custom event is received while the message is pending. A minimum delay of one hour is required to ensure there is time for the cancellation event to occur after the triggering event. In the Delivery step of this workflow you may specify a number of hours or days after the triggering event occurred.

Toggle to enable, then complete the same workflow used for Custom Event triggers.

If you would like to set multiple Cancellation Events, click the Add another event button and continue with your specifications. Multiple events are handled as a boolean OR.

Automation Limits

Edit your App-level automation rule limits, which control over-notification to users who repeatedly meet automation criteria, capping automated messages per device per given time interval, e.g., a maximum of 4 messages every 10 hours.

Click the pencil icon to make changes. A new window will open to your app’s Configuration settings. Click the Automation Limits tab, and make and save your desired changes. See Settings: Configuration: Automation Limits for detail.


Choose which message type to send, enter its content, and configure options.

If you choose Message Center as your message type, the Message Action dropdown menu will not appear. Only the button to create a Rich Page will be available.

If you combine Message Center with another Message type, the Message Action dropdown menu will default to Message Center, but you may choose another Action.

  1. Choose which message type to send: Push Notification, In-App Message, or Message Center. After you make your selection you have the option to combine message types. Click the Continue button to confirm your choice(s).

    Or choose Silent Push Notification to send a push without notification text.

    • Push Notifications alert users from outside of your app to key information (news, offers, features, etc.), and drive them back to engage with your app.

    • In-App Messages are banner notifications that appear inside of your app. Use them to engage with users as they browse your app, and reach users who have not opted in to push.

    • Message Center is a place in your app where you can display persistent rich messages, including HTML, video, etc. Read about Message Center.

  2. Enter the text that will display in your message. As you type, a preview will display.

    Below the text box is a color-coded indicator, warning when your message may be truncated on some devices.

    • Green: Full length of message will appear in most cases
    • Orange: Message may be shortened on some devices
    • Red: Message will be shortened on all devices

    Best practice is to make your message as brief as possible, though some customers find success when a message truncates, teasing their audience to learn more.

    If you chose to combine a Push Notification and In-App Message, you have the option of using the Push Notification text as the In-App Message’s alert text. If you’d prefer to use a different message, select the radio button for Write alternative, and enter your text in the box that appears below.

  3. Direct the user’s next step after they tap or swipe your message. The Message Actions listed in the dropdown menu differ depending on which message type you chose, and if you chose to combine message types. See the Message Actions topic guide for more information.

    Action for Push Notification or combined Push Notification and Message Center only:

    Action for In-App Message or combined In-App Message and Message Center only:

    Action for combined Push Notification and In-App Message or combined Push Notification, In-App Message, and Message Center only:

    • Home Screen (combined) opens the app’s Home Screen for a Push Notification, and dismisses the In-App Message.

    Actions common to Push Notification, In-App Message, and Message Center:

  4. Click the Set a tag button.

    You may remove an existing tag, or set and remove tags.

    Type ahead to find tags that exist in the system, or create a new tag.

    Tags let you dynamically track user interactions for follow-on retargeting campaigns by setting one or more tags when the user interacts with this push. For example, if you set a tag “responded-campaign1” then you can target them with another message at a later date, knowing they are active users. Alternatively, you can re-engage them with an automated message if they are inactive for a period of time.

Optional Features

Available options are dependent on which message types and platforms are selected.


Add one or two Buttons to bring even more interactivity to your messaging. Buttons prompt a user to take specific actions within or outside of the applications. There are up to 35 predefined Notification buttons to choose from, depending on your SDK version. Trigger any Urban Airship message action when a button is clicked. See Settings: Configuration: Notification Buttons.

Enable via toggle, click Select buttons, either page through or type to narrow your search, and click the button(s) of your choice.

Custom Keys

Set Custom Keys, also known as key/value pairs, which allow you to pass extra data through your Push Notification payload for use by custom code in your app. Common uses of custom keys include passing additional campaign identifiers for analytics, passing user profile information to the device, controlling the look and feel of the app, providing image links, etc.

Enable via toggle, make your platform selection from the dropdown menu, then enter the key and value. Click the Add Another button for additional keys.

By default, a custom key is sent to Push Notifications on all platforms, but you can choose platform-specific keys as well if you your message is going out to more than one platform, e.g., one imageURL for iOS and another imageURL for Android.


Enter a Title to create a heading that appears above the notification text on:

  • iOS Notification Center
  • Apple Watch Looks
  • Android and Amazon Notification Area/Drawer

Enable via toggle, then type the title in the text field.


Add a Summary line, supplemental text displayed with the primary notification message. Enable via toggle, then type the line in the text field.

  • iOS: Summary appears below the push notification title. See iOS 10 documentation. iOS 10 only.

  • Android and Amazon: Summary appears below the main notification text in most cases. This is the only visible text other than the title when Android Picture is visible in expanded mode, as the main notification text is suppressed. See Android documentation.


Add Media to your notification. Toggle to enable.

  1. Enter the URL for the media to be displayed with the push notification. Image, animated gif, audio, and video are supported. See API reference for allowed file types and requirements. Ensure the URL will be accessible by your mobile audience. HTTPS is required.

  2. Check the box to Hide iOS thumbnail. By default, a thumbnail of the media is displayed in the message alert.

  3. Add Media Specific Content on iOS 10 devices. By default, iOS 10 devices will receive the Same push notification as pre-iOS 10 devices. If you would like to send a different message to iOS 10 devices, select the Write Alternative radio button to display the iOS 10 Push Notification box, and enter the alternative text.

Alternate Title and Summary fields will appear here only if the initial Title and Summary fields preceding Media have been enabled and filled out.

Android and Amazon

Enter the URL for the media to be displayed with the push notification. Only static images are supported. See API reference for "style". Ensure the URL will be accessible by your mobile audience. HTTPS is required.

If the iOS platform is enabled along with Android and/or Amazon, the URL field is labeled Picture for Android. The Picture for Android field is removed if a URL for a static image is entered in the initial URL field.

Upload Media

If your account has CDN enabled, you have the option to Upload media rather than entering a URL. Select the radio button for Upload, click the Upload Media button, and select the media file. Maximum file size is 2 MB.

Supported Media

  • Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG
  • Audio: AIFF, WAV, MP3, M4A
  • Video: AVI, MPEG, MPEG2, MP4

Contact Support if you are interested in enabling CDN media hosting.

iOS Only


Update the recipient device’s app Badge, the red numeric display on the app icon that typically indicates its number of unread messages.

By default you automatically increment the existing badge number, but alternatively you can specify the exact number, e.g., +3, +12, -3.

Enable via toggle, then select either Increment by 1 or Specify. Specify requires a value in the text field.


Play a custom Sound when the message is received. The file must be bundled with your app by your app developer.

Enable via toggle, then enter the name of the sound file, e.g., “default” or “beep.caf”.


Choose when the message will be sent, and if you want to include a delay.

Delay is required for First Open triggers, with a minimum delay of one hour to ensure delivery.

  1. Optionally Delay message delivery, specifiying a waiting period after the trigger occurs and before the message is sent.

    Toggle to enable, then enter a value for your dropdown choice of Minutes, Hours, or Days. The maximum delay period is 90 days.

  2. Choose the timing for sending your message, after the trigger occurs and delay has elapsed. If you enable a delay, “after delay” is appended to each choice listed in the dropdown menu.

    Send immediately
    Your message will send as soon as the rule is evaluated, though after a delay, if specified.

    Choose an exact time of day to send the message.

    The system chooses the first appropriate scheduled time after the triggering event and after a configured delay period has elapsed. All messages are delivered in the device’s local time zone.

    Check the box per day of the week, or All days. Click and drag the circle on the timeline to select delivery time. Hours are in 15 minute divisions.

    If you would like to deliver the message at multiple hours of a day on multiple days of the week, click the Add Another button and continue with your specifications.

    Send during available window
    Configure message delivery windows by specifying valid hours of the day and days of the week.

    If no delay is configured and the triggering event falls within an available window, the message will be delivered immediately. If a delay is configured, the system evaluates for an available window the moment the delay period has elapsed.

    Check the box per day of the week, or All days. Click and drag the circle on the timeline to constrain the delivery window. Hours are in 15 minute divisions.

    If you would like to define multiple windows for delivery, e.g., to support separate hours during weekdays vs. weekends, click the Add Another button and continue with your specifications.

    If the triggering event (plus delay, if specified) falls outside of an available window, by default it will deliver the message during the next available window. You may choose to discard the message by selecting the radio button for Do not send.

It may take a few minutes for us to process which time zone a device is in upon first registration, and we default to not sending to devices whose time zone is unknown. Including a delay with a Schedule/“Send during available window” automation may help with this and is highly recommended for automations that are intended to be sent shortly after first app open.

Optional Features


Use Expiration to discard your message if it hasn’t been delivered or displayed by a specific time. Toggle to enable, then select the radio button for either Duration or Date & Time.

For Duration, enter the number of minutes, hours, or days past your defined send time to expire the delivery.

For Date & Time, enter the date and time when delivery attempts should cease.

Push Notifications
If a device is online, the notification will be delivered immediately. If a device is offline, the push services for each platform (e.g., APNs for iOS and GCM for Android) preserve that notification and attempt to deliver it as soon as it comes online, up until the expiration date. There is no way to remove a delivered Push Notification.

In-App Messages
Since In-App Messages are delivered via push notifications, they will not be delivered past expiration date if the user has been offline. In addition, Urban Airship will not display an In-App Message past the expiration date.

For more information about notification expiry, see Expiry in our API reference.

iOS Only

Background Processing

Turn on Background Processing to use the content-available flag. This wakes the app and gives it some running time to perform work, such as downloading content for future display.

Data included in the Push Notification is available for Background Processing, e.g., to send URLs and then download that content. Enable via toggle.

Mutable Content

Enabling Mutable Content allows a push notification’s content to be changed or downloaded before delivery. Automatically enabled if media is defined in Content » Optional Features » Media. iOS 10 only.

Android & Amazon Only


Delay delivery of your message until GCM detects that the device is active. This is a potential way to increase the likelihood of the user engaging with the notification. Enable via toggle.

Collapse Key

Use a Collapse Key to suppress previous messages sent with the same key. Only the most recent message (using the same key) will be viewable.

Enable via toggle, then type the key in the text field.

Review & Start

Confirm your choices, and preview per platform.

  1. Review the information on the left side of the screen, and click through the images in the previewer. The platform and display type are dynamically updated above.

    If you would like to make changes, click the associated step in the progress header, make your changes, then return to Review & Start.

  2. Choose whether to create this Automated message as Active or Paused. Select Paused if you’d like to create the message but aren’t quite ready to activate it.

    Toggle to choose the desired Active/Paused state.

    After starting the rule, you may edit it at any time via the dropdown menu in the Status column in Messages » Messages Overview » Automated.

  3. Start your Automation rule! Click the Start Automation button at the bottom of your window.

Automation Reports

See Reports for in-depth analysis of your use of Engage. To evaluate the performance of individual messages, from the Urban Airship dashboard, click the Messages dropdown menu, and select Messages Overview.

The view defaults to the History tab, which lists messages that you have already sent. Please note that this only includes messages that were delivered immediately. See the Automated tab for reports on Automated messages.

Click a Reports action icon at the end of a message row.

Eye = Preview Report
Expands the row, displaying metrics from the Message Report. Click the icon again to collapse the preview. Available metrics vary per message type. Click the question mark icon next to each for its definition.

Histogram = View Full Report
Opens the full Message Report. To return to the History list, click your browser’s Back button or the view all messages link above the report title.

Click Expand All and Collapse All to expose and hide Preview Reports for all listed messages.

See Messages: Messages Overview for additional information about this menu section.