Facebook Invades Lock Screens With New “Notify” App

Standalone iOS app gives people the ability to receive push notifications from 70 news and entertainment publishers.

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Looking for another avenue to reach your audience? Facebook has a new app for that.

The social network launched a standalone iOS app today that gives a selected group of publishers access to people’s lock screens. Called “Notify,” the app pushes alerts to people’s mobile phones, serving headlines throughout the day. Users customize their selections by subscribing to media sources or “stations” of specific content from those sources. The content is served independently of Facebook; when people swipe or tap through, they are taken to the link in the app’s mobile browser.

People sign into the app with their Facebook credentials and are given suggestions about sources to follow based on their Facebook profiles.


When details about Facebook’s plans for the app leaked several months ago, Notify was described as a news app, something of a real-time competitor to Twitter, but Facebook has filled the app at launch with more than just news. There’s entertainment (TV clips from Hulu), food updates (new restaurants opening in your area from Eater), live score updates from your favorite sports teams and weather reports based on your current location.

It remains to be seen whether the app will prove popular, considering lock screens are already a busy place and people can also follow media organizations on Facebook, Twitter and any number of other social networks. Facebook believes it’s worth testing to see.

“People have different ways they want to consume information,” Facebook product director Michael Cerda told Re/code. “Search is one way. Social is another way. And we think push notifications might be yet another. We see that as an evolving medium and want to be a part of that.”

And at least 70 media organizations, including BuzzFeed, the New York Times, Entertainment Tonight and People magazine, are on board to experiment with the app. Publishers can serve notifications manually through a Facebook-built portal or automatically by tying into an API.

Publishers interested in getting access to Notify are being pointed to this sign-up form.

“We are starting with a set of partners while we learn more about how people interact with the product,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We also plan to work closely with our partners to gather their feedback and make improvements, with a goal to open up to more partners in the future.”

The app is available today from the Apple app store for US users.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Martin Beck
Martin Beck was Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter from March 2014 through December 2015.

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