{ by david linsin }

July 19, 2010

Apple Push Notifications on Google Appengine

Last year, I worked on a Nine Men's Morris (Mühle) implementation for Android, called Doublemill. Since I'm an iPhone user, I decided to port the game to iPhone/iPod touch and the iPad. There are 3 versions: Doublemill Premium, Doublemill Lite and Doublemill for iPad.

I've written about the Google Appengine (GAE) a couple of times before and the same goes for Apple Push Notifications (APN). For Doublemill I had to bring those two technologies together and it was a pain and pleasure at the same time.

Let me start with the pain! Apples Push Notifications in a restricted environment like the Google Appengine is no fun to implement! My first approach was to use notnoop's java-apn, which I've used before and works quite well. Unfortunately, there is currently no way of using a client certificate, which you'll need in order to talk to Apple's server on the Google Appengine. There are some javax.security classes missing on GAE.

That's where the pleasure part begins! Thanks to Urban Airship, it's easy to hook up your application running on Google Appengine to Apple's Push Notifications! And the best part - it's free (although not unlimited)! Urban Airshipe provides an easy to use REST interface, which you can call from your Java code on GAE with a good old HttpURLConnection. It uses Basic Auth over Https to ensure that only your application can send Push Notifications to your iPhone App.

I won't provide any code for you here, because it's the basic concept that's the most interesting part when bringing APN to GAE. The first thing you need to do, is store your user's deviceToken. You should do that each time the App launches, to ensure it's the correct token. That token, along with the information you want to present to your user, needs to be passed to Urban Airship's REST interface, everytime you want to send a notification. A Cron Job or Task on Google Appengine could handle that for you.

If your application is designed with notifications in mind, then it's quite easy to bring Apple Push Notifications to the Google Appengine, thanks to Urban Airship!


Garett Rogers said...

Here's a sample appengine project (python) that uses APNS... It's using the new socket functionality: https://github.com/GarettRogers/appengine-apns-gcm

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