Understanding iOS AirWatch Inbox and VMware Boxer Notifications

On the Apple iOS platform the AirWatch Inbox and VMware Boxer applications leverage local notifications and an API known as background app refresh to provide notifications, both of which are explained in detail below. This provides new email notifications to the end user on an optimum interval determined by the iOS operating system.

Local and Remote Notifications

There are two basic types of notifications on iOS: local and remote. Local notifications are posted by the application on the device while remote notifications (APNS) are sent to the device from a remote server. These two types of notifications are very different but will look and sound the same to an end user.

More information about Local and Remote Notifications can be found on Apple’s developer website here.

Inbox Notifications

AirWatch Inbox and VMware Boxer use local notifications to inform the user of new emails or upcoming calendar events. When a new email is synced in the background, the application will post a notification to the end user. The application can only perform this sync and notification when allowed by the operating system, and when a new calendar event is synced to the device, the application will schedule the notification to post in the future based on the time of the event and the alert setting in the calendar event (e.g. 15 min before the event).

Background Sync

iOS applications, including AirWatch Inbox and VMware Boxer in particular, use a functionality called Background App Refresh to periodically perform tasks after the app is placed into the background by the OS. Information regarding Background App Refresh can be found here. Essentially, once an app is placed in the background, the OS will periodically allow it to perform background tasks. Inbox and Boxer will use these opportunities to determine if any new messages have been delivered and update the notification badge if necessary.

Additionally, if the user manually force closes the application by double tapping the home button and swiping it off the screen or restarting the device, it will no longer be launched by the OS for background tasks until it is opened again by the user. Since this workflow does not allow for PUSH real-time email updates, Inbox and Boxer do not get real-time updates for new mail items unless it is running in the foreground, unlike the native mail client which is allowed to support true PUSH mail functionality since it is embedded in the operating system and is not bound by the same limitations.

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