Facebook introduces free push notification testing in the arms race to win app creators

Facebook’s latest move to court developers involves the most irritating of app functions: Push notifications.

Parse, Facebook’s app server company, is giving its users a free way to test which push notifications work best. They’ll be able to send different versions of a push notification to subsets of users to see which ones have the highest open rate. They can experiment with features like the text of the notification, the time of day it’s sent and the sound of the notification.

“We built Parse Push Experiments to make push engagement even simpler and more powerful, and to solve a common problem you may have experienced while designing your push strategy,” Facebook explained in a blog post Monday.

Push notifications are a particular pain point for developers and app users alike. When they’re not delivered contextually, they become irritating interruptions that can make you want to delete an app entirely. But at the same time, they’re one of the most effective ways for app creators to keep users engaged with their products.

The new product from Parse simplifies something that would be challenging for smaller app makers to do on their own. Much like Twitter’s phone number login DigitsParse Push Experiments is a carrot that Facebook is using to lure developers to its platform.

Parse Push Experiments joins the ranks of Parse’s other features for developers, which include everything from server space to analytics, all for free. It’s the latest in an arms race among Google, Facebook, and Twitter, all of whom are trying to integrate themselves deeper into the mobile landscape by winning over app creators. Once app creators use tools built by these big tech companies, it becomes easier for said companies to gather mobile user data and offer advertising services.

Push Experiments is no doubt helpful for app makers, but it’s not a must-have “nuclear bomb” feature. And so, the arms race continues.