What Android 13 Push Notification Changes Mean for Your App

5 minute read

Team Localytics

Google recently released the highly anticipated Android 13 mobile operating system, and with it came some significant changes to how push notification opt-ins are handled. To improve user privacy and control, Android 13 will require apps to obtain opt-in permission from a user in order to send push notifications.  

This change is great for Android users in terms of privacy and control, but with it comes some adjustments that mobile app teams will likely have to make in order to pivot successfully. This is not unlike what Apple already does for iOS apps, so many mobile marketers, product managers, and dev teams have experience with how this opt-in process works. But how will it affect your Android app specifically? 

What Does this Mean for my App?

Impact on push opt-in rates 

Now that Android users won’t be automatically opted in to push notifications at the time they download an app, you’ll likely see lower push opt-in rates. As we mentioned above, iOS has been doing this for years, so we expect push opt-in rates to stabilize at levels similar to what you see currently with iOS users.  

In 2021, Android apps on the Localytics platform had opt-in rates over 90%, and iOS apps had an average opt-in rate of 35%. That’s a big difference, but iOS users had an average 1-month retention rate of 42% compared to the 32% of Android users. IOS users average about nine sessions per month, while Android users average about five sessions.  

These stats prove it’s not all about the opt-in rate but the engagement quality and retention longevity. Users who opt-in to push messages will be more engaged because they have chosen to open up their phone and their attention spans to you. So even if you see that opt-in rate drop, you may very likely see other engagement indicators rise.  

For apps targeting Android 13

If your app has been updated (or will be updated soon) to target Android 13, you will have to prompt new users to opt-in before you can send them a push. However, the push opt-in prompt can be triggered at a time chosen by you, rather than it being automated by the system. This gives you more control as to what context you’d like your push opt-in prompt (or “soft ask”, more on that below!) to be displayed, and thus greater chance of getting opt-ins.  

For apps targeting Android 12 and lower

If your app hasn’t yet been updated to target Android 13, the push opt-in prompt will be triggered by the system itself for app users that have upgraded their OS to Android 13. This means you’ll have less control over when the prompt will be shared with your app users, and users won’t be presented with compelling reasons to opt-in, just a generic opt-in prompt.  

The lesson here? Update your app as soon as you can to target Android 13. While many app users are slow to upgrade their OS, the sooner you begin targeting Android 13, the more control you’ll have over how you prompt your users to opt-in to push, and the higher your opt-in rate.  

How Will App Users Experience This Change?

For your existing mobile app users

To help provide a smoother transition, Google has stated that existing app users will have push permissions “pre-granted”. And those users who were opted out prior to the upgrade to Android 13 will remain opted out.  

For new mobile app users

If a user downloads your app for the first time after installing Android 13 they will be prompted to opt-in after they download the app, with the 3 options below. At this point they can either grant permission for push notifications or deny.  

  1. Users can select “Allow” to opt-in to push notifications 
  2. User can select “Don’t Allow” to opt-out of push, and they will not be shown the prompt again 
  3. If a user swipes away or ignores the prompt, your app will be able to continue sending push notifications until the next time the user opens the app and is prompted again
How Should I Pivot My Mobile App Engagement Strategy? 

While these push opt-in permissions are new to Android, they aren’t new to iOS, and there are some helpful best practices that we can pull from iOS opt-in strategies. You may even be able to duplicate your iOS campaigns if you’re already engaging in the two strategies below:  

First, create a “soft-ask” that shares the perks of opting in. This can come in the form of an in-app message that shares the benefits if they opt-in to push. You can present anything from a short mention of the types of news, exclusive deals, or product launches that a user can expect, or even an offer for 15% off if you opt-in to push.  

Another option is to create a welcome or onboarding flow. This can help guide new users through the most useful or interesting parts of the app, so they are better versed in how to use it and the benefits available to them. In this welcome flow you can also prompt a customer with a soft-ask to opt-in to push, again sharing the perks of opting in. Welcome flows also have the added perk of boosting retention.  

Need help pivoting to Android 13? 

Reach out to our mobile app marketing experts and see how Localytics can help you nurture, engage, and retain your mobile app users. Or if you’re already a customer, speak with your dedicated Customer Success Manager for tips, tricks and guidance on this new Android update.  


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