Getting Started

This guide will take you through required steps to send your first push notification via the Urban Airship dashboard. At the end of this walkthrough you will have successfully:

  • Set up your Urban Airship account
  • Integrated the Urban Airship SDK
  • Provisioned your app for push notifications
  • Sent your first test notification


While anyone should be able to follow these instructions and send a push notification, this is a technical process and should be completed by an app developer with access to the proper mobile development tools and credentials for developer programs.

Registration and Login

If you do not have a login to the Urban Airship Dashboard, you will need to choose a pricing plan and create an account. You may get started with a free Starter account, or sign up for a more feature-rich paid account. Compare available account plans.

  1. Choose a pricing package. Choose either the Starter or Basic package to get started right away. If you prefer Essential or Comprehensive, click the Schedule Demo button and an Urban Airship Account Manager will be in touch with you shortly.
  2. For Starter or Basic packages, enter your information and click Sign up.
  3. Check your inbox for an account activation email, and click the activation link.
  4. Enter a password to complete your account signup.
  5. Head over to our Dashboard and click Manage your apps to get started.

Your Apps

If this is your first time logging in, you will be prompted to create your first Urban Airship app. By “app,” we mean creating an application record in the Urban Airship dashboard, not, e.g., an iOS or Android app. Your Urban Airship app record is what we use to generate the required keys you’ll need to talk to different push notification services and keep track of your mobile audience, messaging campaigns, analytics, and so forth.

Add Your First App

Anyone can set up an Urban Airship app at this stage, but the next several steps (uploading push certificate, installing SDK) will need to be completed by a mobile developer.


Here are some tips to help you set up your first app:

App Name

Some of our customers have only one app, and some have hundreds. Especially if you work in a large organization, it’s good to keep in mind that other people in your company may need to search for this app. So give it as descriptive a name as possible, and try to use similar conventions for naming. Examples: Anytown News iOS- Development, McDowell’s Chicago Android- Production*

App Icon

Upload your app icon here. It doesn’t have to be the same icon that you submit to app marketplaces, but it couldn’t hurt.

Production Status

If this is your first time configuring an app for Urban Airship, you will likely choose “Development- connecting to testing servers.”

Ultimately, you will want to have both a development build for testing and a production build for release to app marketplaces.

For more information about development vs. production apps in Urban Airship, see:

Production vs. Development Apps for iOS

Production vs. Development Apps for Android

Select app platforms that will use Urban Airship

Choose all development platforms for which you plan to integrate Urban Airship. In subsequent steps, you will be asked to provide credentials, e.g., APNs certificate, GCM API key, in order to authenticate with the relevant Push Providers.

Set Up Your First Application

Once you sign in, it’s time to create your first application. You can use the Quickstart Guide to accomplish this. Following step-by-step instructions, you’ll download the SDK, install it in your app, upload your certificate, and send a test push for the platform(s) of your choice.

Add Your Channel ID to Test Devices

Before you can send a test notification, you need to determine the Channel ID, for your device and then add it to your Test Devices list. You have two options:

  1. Speak with one of your developers about getting your device added to the Test Devices list.
  2. Use Charles Proxy to expose your Channel ID. Once you have determined your Channel ID, add your device to Test Devices.


Even if you’re comfortable with option 2, you may want to speak with your developer before you attempt to retrieve your Channel ID yourself. Your app may have been designed with a hidden feature that allows you to quickly retrieve your ID, saving you the difficulty of working with Charles Proxy.

Once your Channel ID has been added to Test Devices, you are ready to proceed to the next section.

Send Your First Notification

This section will walk you through sending your first push notification. To begin, navigate to Messages Overview, located under the Messages tab, and click + Message. From here, you can take full advantage of Urban Airship’s many products and features. For the purposes of this walkthrough, you will be sending a simple, text-based notification. Start by typing your desired notification into the Message box:

Once you have entered your text, the Write notification message row has disappeared from the sidebar on the right. That sidebar tracks your progress towards completing your notification:


You may notice that Select an action is one of the required steps above Confirm and Send Now. If this is the case, navigate to the Notification Action section, located below the Notification section:

Turn off Actions by clicking the small ON/OFF toggle at the top right corner.


We turned Actions off because we are sending a simple text-based notification. However, the Actions Framework is incredibly powerful. Once you finish this tutorial, you are encouraged to browse our Actions documentation to learn more.

After writing a notification message and (if necessary) turning off Actions, you should have two steps remaining: Select audience and Select delivery.


If you do not see these options, you may be on the Automated tab. Right below the Platform Options section, you should see a Standard and Automated tab:


Make sure that the Standard section is selected.

After navigating to the Audience section, you can either send to All Devices, a Single Device, a Segment, or Test Devices. Select the Test Devices option:

Assuming you successfully completed the previous section, your device will have been added to Test Devices.


Before proceeding, verify that you have selected Test Devices. If you accidentally select another Audience option, you risk sending this message to your app subscribers.

Next, navigate to the Delivery section below, and select Immediately to deliver your message immediately:

Finally, review your message. If there are outstanding steps above the Confirm and Send Now button, you will not be able to send your push. Assuming you have reviewed your message and all required steps have been completed, click Confirm and Send Now:


If all has been configured correctly, you just sent your first push notification! Because your device has been added to Test Devices, you should also see the push notification appear on your screen. If this is not the case, review adding your Channel ID to Test Devices, and reattempt the tutorial.

In order to keep this walkthrough manageable, we glossed over several key Message Composer features:

To learn about all of these features and more, please visit our Message Composer documentation.


Below are some simple tutorials that will walk you through the basic messaging strategies that are outlined in the Mobile Strategies section of our website.

These tutorials assume a basic familiarity with our Message Composer workflow, which you learned in the previous section, Send Your First Notification.

Share Action

Spread awareness about your app and promote user acquisition using social sharing via Urban Airship’s Action Framework.

Configure Share Action in the Settings section

To configure the Share action, go to the Settings Configuration page, and look for the Notification Buttons, Share Action switch:

Make sure the switch is set to ON. By default, all new app configurations in Urban Airship will have this feature enabled, while existing apps will have to enable this feature manually. Note that it is not currently possible to enable the Share Action and Notification Buttons features separately.

Create and Send Message with Sharing Text

You can prompt a user to share your message in three different ways:

  • When they swipe the alert
  • When they click an interactive notification button
  • When they click a button in a rich page

To send a notification that drives a user to share your message when they swipe it, first compose your notification, and select Share under the Notification Action section:

Supply sharing text to the notification that is separate for your notification message and more suitable for sharing on social media. For example, you can include plain URLs and hashtags if you expect users to share the content via Twitter:

Attach a Share action to an interactive notification button by creating an interactive notification and clicking Share, located beneath the Notification Buttons section:

The Share action can be attached to rich pages as well:

Welcome Message

Use Urban Airship’s Automation toolset to send a welcome message soon after a user installs your app. To begin, follow the normal workflow for sending a message, as covered in the above section. Because you are creating a welcome message, the message content should greet the new user, and maybe highlight an important app feature.

When you finish creating the message content and get to audience selection, near the bottom of the page, click on the Automated tab. You should see a menu with a list of trigger events:

From here, select the First Open option.

A First Open Trigger event fires when a user opens your app for the first time. After selecting First Open from the Automation menu, you will set how long after first open the message will be sent:

You can now choose a delay between a user’s first open and the sending of your welcome message. The exact length of the delay is up to you, but we recommend not waiting longer than 24 hours. Once you’ve set your delay, send the message. You now have a welcome message set up! To learn more about first open triggers and automation, please see our automation documentation.


You can use the First Open feature to create a welcome message series. To do so, simply follow the process above multiple times, setting different values for the delay. For example, you can set up a message that sends 1 day after first open, then one that occurs after 7 days, and finally one that sends after 30 days.


A common tactic for keeping users engaged with your app over time is to periodically educate them about features in your app which they might not be using.

A good way to go about creating a feature education message is by using tags to target users and deep links that can take them directly to the particular page or resource that you are promoting.

  1. Begin by following the normal workflow for sending a message, as covered in the above section.
  2. Use Lifecyle Lists to target a dormant segment of your audience.
  3. Use a deep link to highlight the chosen app feature.


Your app is an extension of your brand. And in most cases these days, an app will have little value to a user unless the user logs in with existing credentials, e.g., loyalty program or account details. You therefore have a strong incentive to encourage users to register their details.

This benefits of this approach are twofold:

  • The user can take advantage of your app features that are tied to “elswewhere” activity, e.g., a birthday surprise, a reminder to use expiring loyalty points.
  • When a user is authenticated, you can associate their in-app activity with user information stored elsewhere, e.g., purchase history or other metrics stored in your CRM system.

The call to action here is simple: Maximize user registration events for those who download your app.

  1. Begin by following the normal workflow for sending a message, as covered in the above section.
  2. Choose a message that highlights the benefits of registering or authenticating in the app.

For further reading on mobile strategy regarding user data both in-app and out-of-app, please see our Mobile Data Bridge series of topic guides.


A reactivation message leverages the Urban Airship automation platform to message users who have been dormant for a period of time. To begin, follow the normal workflow for sending a message, as covered in the above section. Because you are creating a reactivation message, the content should persuade dormant users to begin using your app again, maybe through a special offer.

When you finish creating the message content and get to audience selection, near the bottom of the page, click on the Automated tab. You should see a menu with a list of trigger events:

From here, select the Inactivity Trigger option.

Inactivity Triggers look for non-events rather than events like Tag Triggers. We monitor for app-open events from Urban Airship’s reporting framework. By creating an Inactivity Trigger, you are instructing the Automation service to send a message when we do not see an app open event in (X) number of days.

For example, after setting an Inactivity Trigger for 30 days, the automation system will wait the full 30 days, after which it will send out the inactivity message to all users who have been inactive for 30 days or longer. From that point on, the automation system tracks users individually, sending an inactivity message to any user who crosses the 30 day threshold.

Once you are satisfied with the chosen interval of time, finalize the message and hit send. Congratulations, you’ve created your first reactivation message! To learn more about inactivity triggers and automation, please see our automation documentation.