GCM Service for Android App Developers

GCM Service for Android App Developers

Hi Guys

In this post we’ll talk about the Google Cloud Messaging or GCM service for Android app developers, formally known as C2DM (Cloud to Device Management). This is a service we’ve used quite frequently in the development of Android apps, especially in apps that communicate with a cloud based server for pushing and pulling data.

GCM service for Android app developers is basically a cloud to device management service that is used to send data from a cloud based server to mobile devices in real time, without the need for constant polling. This data can be a lightweight message telling the mobile app that there is new data to be fetched from the server, for example, a “new email” notification that informs the app that it is out sync with the back end server, so that it syncs with the server to immediately fetch the new emails available on the server. The GCM service handles all aspects of message queuing and delivery to the target application running on the Android device.

GCM Service For Android App Developers
GCM Service For Android App Developers


How It Works – GCM Service For Android App Developers

The GCM service works in the following manner:

  • The Android app (application) registers itself with the “GCM Service” which in turns generates a registration ID for the app
  • This Registration ID is sent to the application’s server called “MyServer”
  • Whenever any activity takes place in the app, the Android device’s browser notifies the application server which sends a message to the GCM service. The GCM service then notifies the specific device using the registration ID of the app

Key Features – GCM Service For Android App Developers

The key features that the GCM service offers to developers include:

  • The ability to send data from the application server to Android – the application server can send a message of up to 4 Kb directly to the client application
  • The ability to send “send-to-sync” messages – the GCM service can also send sync to sync messages to the client application. These are messages or data that tell the mobile app to sync data from server
  • Upstream messaging over XMPP – The GCM Cloud Connection Service (CCS) lets you communicate with Android devices over a persistent XMPP connection. The primary advantages of CCS are speed and the ability to receive upstream messages i.e. the ability to send messages from the Android device directly to the cloud server
  • Seamless multi-device messaging – since the GCM service maps a single user to a notification key, you can use that key to send a single message to multiple devices owned by the user

Due to these features, GCM is a key service used by Android app developers when developing client apps that communicate with a cloud based server at the back end, since this service enables the app to communicate with the server in real time for syncing data.

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