Mobile Marketing

Launch an iOS Live Activity With New Push-to-Start Tokens

Haley Trost By Haley Trost Mar 11, 2024

If you’re an iPhone user, you’ve probably experienced the power of a Live Activity on your phone’s Lock Screen at some point over the last year. Maybe you tracked a workout, followed the score of a basketball game, or kept an eye on the status of a delivery order.

Since they were introduced in 2022, Live Activities have been a refreshing change for mobile engagement. Now, with the release of iOS 17.2, Live Activities are getting a boost that makes this new channel an even more proactive way to connect with users in the moments that matter.

What are Live Activities?

Live Activities display persistent, real-time updates right on the iPhone Lock Screen and Dynamic Island to keep users in the loop on delivery orders, flight and rideshare statuses, election results, and other time-sensitive activities. Instead of receiving a new push notification for every update along the way (potentially contributing to message fatigue), users can follow along as the Live Activity updates in real time.

Braze makes it easier for brands to get started with Live Activities by using the Braze SDK to update a Live Activity and manage the Live Activity lifecycle. You can also use segmentation tools in Braze to target Live Activities to specific audiences based on their interests and preferences. Plus, managing Live Activities through Braze means this channel can be used in tandem with other messaging channels, like in-app messages and Content Cards, to drive adoption.

Until iOS 17.2, remote push notifications could only be used to update and end a Live Activity, but starting a new Live Activity required the iOS app to manually call the request(attributes:content:pushType:) function while the app was in the foreground.

What changed with iOS 17.2

iOS 17.2 was released in December and includes the ability to remotely start a Live Activity from a push notification, known as “push-to-start.” This means that brands can automatically display Live Activities on a user’s device without requiring the user to open the app, making this an even more seamless channel to engage users at key lifecycle moments. Braze now supports push-to-start functionality for Live Activities, helping brands with mobile apps to stay top-of-mind with their customers.

Let’s use a sports app as an example. Previously, fans would have needed to open the app to start a new Live Activity every time their favorite team had a game. Now, the app can offer to automatically start a Live Activity whenever that specific team plays, so the fan no longer has to open the app or take action each time in order to get ongoing updates.

Push-to-start Live Activities support: How it works

The key new feature is the push-to-start token, which is used to start a new Live Activity. The permissions for Live Activities are separate from push permissions; users don’t need to be opted in for regular push notifications to receive Live Activity push-to-start and push tokens, though they do need to have Live Activities enabled for your app.

To set this up in Braze, you’ll register new push-to-start tokens from your users’ devices and make requests to a new /messages/live_activity/start REST API endpoint containing an activity ID (e.g. “semifinal-game”) and the initial data (e.g. the team names and the initial score of 0-0). Braze supports sending the "push-to-start" activity to any segment, individual set of users, or Connected Audience object for ad-hoc segment definitions via API.

You can create different Live Activity types for different use cases, which empowers users to choose the updates that are most important to them. Continuing with our sports example, this might look like one Live Activity type for users who want to subscribe to game scores and a different type for users who want to follow along with live draft updates.

But enough about sports! Here are some use cases for Live Activities in other industries:

  • A media and entertainment app starts a countdown to the premiere of a new episode of a user’s favorite show

  • A travel app starts flight, train, hotel, and other updates on a user’s day of travel

  • An on-demand or QSR app starts delivery updates once a user places an order

  • A health and fitness app starts a daily tracker of steps or pulse rate

  • A finance app starts a daily budget tracker

Once the Live Activity has started, you can continue sending updates to the existing /messages/live_activity/update endpoint as outlined in our Live Activities documentation.

Final thoughts

Mobile marketing has been around for a long time now, but new channels don’t come around all that often. Users and brands alike are eager for new ways to engage. Adding Live Activities to your channel mix will help you stand out in a sea of mobile apps by providing users with the modern, proactive, and personalized engagement they’ve come to crave.

CTA: Looking for more ways to add Live Activities to your marketing mix? Download the Braze Inspiration Guide for more ideas.

Haley Trost

Haley Trost

Haley Trost is a Product Marketing Manager at Braze and a new New Yorker. She spends her weekdays creating new Canvas content and her weekends hiking, skiing, and mastering the Sunday crossword.

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