iOS Mobile App Notifications

I understand that self-hosted Discourse instances do not get push notifications through the mobile app. However from reading through the meta topic about the app, it looks like notifications should still work using iOS’s background fetch (albeit a bit delayed).

This doesn’t seem to work for my forum, and I’m not sure how to go about figuring out what’s wrong. Could it be because my forum is login-only? Is there any way to get logs from the app?

Push notifications for meta are working fine


Have you been using the app regularly?
iOS decides when and how often to wake the app, and it will only wake apps often that are used frequently.


Yeah I use it frequently (every few hours)

Will see if I can add a diagnostic window, but background fetch by apple has been super flakey


Excuse me if this is too off-topic (it somewhat relates), I didn’t think it needed a new topic and the old mega-thread is closed, but why is there not an option for sound notifications like most other applications with notifications have?

Mainly cause I find sound notifications obnoxious :slight_smile: but I guess I can get the argument that people should be able to opt in for sound if they need it. (visually impaired for example)


Not just visually impaired, but there are many other situations where people need volume.

An example: over the summer I work at a children’s camp, with everything that is going on I frequently can’t feel my phone vibrate, so volume is critical.

Another example: my father works in a hospital, and is frequently around many machines that have moving parts, tubes of air, things that vibrate, etc. When he gets a page he needs the volume to know that there is a notification.


Maybe just have it disabled by default (if that’s possible). I can see people not wanting them, but that’s why there’s an option to turn them off in the notification settings.

Also, because there’s no sound, there’s no vibration either, even on the Apple Watch


Is it really still the case that Discourse is unable to provide notifications to the billions of iOS users, unless our site goes with one specific hosting company that charges way more than we can afford?

I would have expected this to change by now, but this is the latest topic I found addressing the issue.

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You mean:

Is it really still the case that Apple is unable to provide web notifications to the billions of iOS Safari users, unless our company goes out of our way to create a native mobile app that wraps the browser and pays for all the associated costs?

Unfortunately yes, but now that next iOS will get service workers, maybe in 2019, after Edge?


Look, I don’t care who you want to blame. The fact of the matter is you just told me that Discourse might work in 2019.


(And for the record, I blame Apple too, but somehow other software packages have managed to do things to, you know, work around the issue in a way that lets you send notifications for less than $100/month.)

Oh so the free software you are running is not good enough because you expect us to run a free gateway that forwards notifications to your self hosted community?

And you expect us to pay the bill to run the web server, the staff to ensure we never forward notifications for hate groups, because… reasons?

The push notifications protocol is open, the app is open source, you can roll your own


There is a new feature request for Webkit. Lets see if there is some action there.


I’m fully aware of the design decisions that led to you refusing to budge on integrating with Tapatalk, for example, which would have allowed push notifications on iOS. I don’t blame you for that.

But let’s be completely clear about one thing, it’s not helpful to pretend as though I was demanding you provide the infrastructure necessary for push notifications on iOS. I wasn’t even requesting that. There are other ways of making it happen, which I assume you are aware of. I don’t know if any of them are truly workable technically or financially. I just know that your comment isn’t helpful.

I don’t use Discourse. I did for a short while a few years ago, and I gave back in the little ways I could.

Discourse will become a viable possibility for me to use the moment it stops treating iOS users as second-class citizens for less than $100/month or I can afford $100/month. You can whine all you want about how Apple does things a way you don’t like, but in the end my evaluation is not unfair.

This has the optics of the typical two-tier OSS package, where some important features in the software are locked behind a paywall. If you want to talk up how your software is free to shut me up, go ahead, but it rings a bit hollow when your decision about how to solve push notifications in your “free” software just happens to require people to pay you $100/month (at a minimum.)

OK, can you please back this up?


I already did. Tapatalk. And I also don’t see why you’re being so hostile. I already said that I don’t blame you for refusing to go that route.

Here’s another example:

I’ll also remind you before you say “Gotcha” and tear me apart for suggesting options that won’t work for some reason of what I said before that you didn’t quote: “I don’t know if any of them are truly workable technically or financially.”

Let me try my hand at answering from your perspective:

“Unfortunately, due to design decisions that we made early on and that we still find to be central to the usability of Discourse as a top-notch communications software package, combined with choices that Apple has made that continue to surprise us, we are sadly caught in a place where, for the time being, we cannot support iOS as well as we wish we could. Have you considered simply going with fetch instead of push on iOS? [But I wouldn’t suggest this if it is still not working consistently.] We will continue to do our best to make Discourse work well for every platform without compromising on the amazing features we already provide. We continue to hope that Apple will change their mind about push in mobile Safari, and in the meantime, if you have any ideas for how we could make push a reality for the rest of the Discourse community, we’d be happy to hear them and/or get code contributions! Here’s to hoping Discourse can meet your needs in the future. Cheers!”

For people who don’t have the resources to build their own app, discourse-chat-integration provides solutions for real-time group notifications:

On my own self-hosted forum, we use telegram to provide push notifications to users on mobile devices:


@jtbayly - I believe things may have started on the wrong foot here. The first sentence in your first post appears to put the blame on Discourse (the company), and that the issue is financial related (for the cost of our hosting). It’s hard to be friendly when the first post is accusatory.

There are details in previous topics about the Mobile App, but in short a decision was made to use the native push notification system for both major mobile operating systems. Both systems require that each site allowed to send a push notification be registered, which we do for the sites that we host. It’s not technically feasible to support every self-hosted site out there, as we don’t know all the URLs.

As per Things to consider before deciding to white-label the Discourse Mobile apps you can modify the open source app to suit your community. David shared a number of options that work as well, including the OneSignal push notification service. If you have an Apple iOS developer license it should also be possible to hook into Apple’s native push notification service too.


Yes, my comment is disbelieving that this is still the state of things. But it only sounds accusatory, because the optics are awful. I was under the impression that the only way I could get notification was to use your hosting company. I asked if that was true. The first answer I got was in the affirmative and finger-pointing at Apple. When I pointed out that other projects had managed to do this in a way that didn’t tie you to one provider, I got the dumb answer that every OSS company gives: “Roll your own.” All indications are that nobody has done it and I’d be starting from scratch. Ok. Thanks for that.

Turns out the first answer I was given was wrong. I’m not tied to one provider. There are various ways to get notifications on iOS, including some really creative ones that use other apps. Cool.

Seriously. Thanks @david