Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM), formerly called Google Cloud Messaging (GCM), is a free cloud service from Google that allows app developers to send notifications and messages to users across a variety of platforms, including Android, iOS and web applications. FCM is provided by Firebase, a company acquired by Google in 2014.
FCM allows software developers to send push notifications for their applications to end users through an application programming interface (API). Push notifications are popular on mobile devices because they conserve battery life, unlike pull notifications, which continually poll the developer’s server for new information and can drain a device’s battery life. With push notifications, the cloud service acts on behalf of the app and only connects to the mobile device when there are new notifications.
In order to send and receive messages using FCM, the two elements needed are a trusted environment or server to on which build, direct and send messages and an Android, iOS or Web client app to receive messages. With FCM, developers can send two types of messages to users: notifications messages and data messages. Notification messages are displayed on the user’s device by FCM on behalf of the application. Data messages are directly processed by the application, which is responsible for delivering the message to the user.
Using message targeting, FCM is able to deliver messages to applications in three ways: to single devices, to groups of devices, or to devices subscribed to topics. Developers have the option to create messages in the Notification composer, which can send targeted messages to specific segments of users. These messages are fully integrated with Firebase Analytics, which tracks user engagement and conversion.