Push Notifications Lifecycle

Push notifications are a common feature in mobile apps and if you read my previous post or others you will easily understand how to receive them. Most walk-throughs stop at that point but what do you do after you receive them? As you will find out there are a few scenario’s in different platforms you need to accommodate.

push notifications


Android is the most interesting to handle push notifications, where its handy to have a few tricks up your sleeve. When you are in the foreground in your class which inherited GcmServiceBase, there is an OnMessageReceived method which is called when a push notification is received. When your app is backgrounded it will come through the MainActivity.cs.


In the foreground, you will need to code yourself or use a plugin like Toast Notifications for Xamarin and Windows to show a Snackbar or Notification. You must handle the display of the push notification yourself. When backgrounded, the user opens the app via clicking the notification, you must handle the response in the MainActivity, but while most examples might show you using it in the OnCreate, this actually isn’t a great place to use it.

In your MainActivity.cs set your LaunchMode to SingleTop. This means your MainActivity wont be created again when opened.

[Activity(Label = "Mobile App", Theme = "@style/MainTheme", LaunchMode = LaunchMode.SingleTop)]

Next use the OnNewIntent to handle the notification arguments passed through, instead of OnCreate.

protected override void OnNewIntent(Intent intent)
    if (intent != null)
        var message = intent.GetStringExtra("message");

        if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(message))
              // Do something


Unlike other platforms, if your Android app is closed, it will not receive Push Notifications. This is because Android receives push notifications via a service that the app launches. If the app is closed, then the service is not running and hence the app will not receive any push notifications. However, there is a way around this, by implementing a WakefulBroadcastReceiver.

First, add the WakeLock permission in your AndroidManifest.xml.

 <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.WAKE_LOCK" />

Now, add a WakefulBroadcastReceiver.

public class BroadcastReceiver : WakefulBroadcastReceiver
    public override void OnReceive(Context context, Intent intent)
        var pm = PowerManager.FromContext(context);
        var wakeLock = pm.NewWakeLock(WakeLockFlags.Partial, "GCM Broadcast Reciever Tag");

        // Handle the notification here. You have an Intent and Context which will contain the information you are after.
        // ....

        // When you are finished



In iOS, if the app is in the foreground, a different method is called than when in the app is in the background. ReceivedRemoteNotification is used when the app is backgrounded, DidReceiveRemoteNotification is called when the app is in the foreground.


If the app is in the foreground, it also won’t show a push notification, you have to manually either show an alert or show a notification of your own. For this you might want to look at the Toast Notifications for Xamarin and Windows plugin, or manually send an UNNotificationRequest (iOS 10+) if you want to roll your own.


Windows is the easiest platform, as a Toast Notification will be displayed if the app is in the foreground and when the app is backgrounded. When a user clicks on the Toast, the OnActivated function will be called in your App.xaml.cs.


The args in here are from the launch argument in your toast if you placed any in the notification you sent.


Subscribe to a hand-picked round up of the best Xamarin development links every week. Published every Friday. Free.

Signup to Weekly Xamarin

* I do not maintain or run this newsletter, but I do recommend it.


  1. Emanuel Nogueiras

    Hi, I am new in xamarin. I have a portable project with android push notifications workin

    But…. when I receive a push in the android project (onMessage) I need to call a void in portable project… and I do not know how to access to it…

    I think of use events or delegates but really I do not know what they are or how to use it

    Do you think you can help me in some way?

    1. Adam Pedley

      Dependency Injection would probably be the best way for you. Google “Xamarin Forms Dependency Injection” and there are plenty of articles that go through it.

  2. Shahriat Hossain

    I am using args as extra like below:

    var jGcmData = new JObject();
    var jData = new JObject();

    jData.Add(“message”, MESSAGE);
    jData.Add(“args”, “1”);
    jGcmData.Add(“to”, “/topics/pushString”);
    jGcmData.Add(“data”, jData);

    and trying to receive using your given code below on MainActivity:

    protected override void OnNewIntent(Intent intent)
    if (intent != null)
    var args = intent.GetStringExtra(“args”);

    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(args))
    // Do something

    but here getting args (null)
    can you help me what I am doing wrong?

  3. Philipp

    Hi. Is it correct that you absolutely don’t need any Anotations for your WakefulBroadcastReceiver? No intentFilter? No flags? Nothing?

    1. Adam Pedley

      Your WakefulBroadcastReceiver would normally be the main receiver you use. As such the intent filters of com.google.android.c2dm.intent.RECEIVE and com.google.android.c2dm.intent.REGISTRATION that you would normally use, would be attached to this receiver.

  4. Mario Kielblock

    If you say the WakefulBroadcastReceiver would Normally be the main receiver,
    does that mean I should remove these Classes in my project.

    public class MyBroadcastReceiver : GcmBroadcastReceiverBase

    [Service] // Must use the service tag
    public class PushHandlerService : GcmServiceBase

    I just do not understand how to implement the WakefulBroadcastReceiver into my Xamarin Forms App and the only doc’s I get on it is in the Xamarin.Android section

    1. Adam Pedley

      WakefulBroadcastReceiver is an Android only function, so its not cross-platform, but other platforms handle this differently.

      If I remember correctly, you should keep your existing BroadcastReceiver, and add the Wakeful one as well. The WakefulBroadcastReceiver will only be called when waking, where as the other one will be called when the app is running.

      1. Mario Kielblock

        Thank you, got it semi working, just got to figure how to wake up the app correctly now, as I get ‘App’ stopped responding message on receiving the wakeful message

  5. David Edwards

    Hi Adam.

    Thanks for all your posts on Xamarin – I’m working on my first Xamarin project and your posts and answers to other developers’ questions have been very useful.

    I’m nearly there with getting the push notifications working but am hitting a brick wall. I want to read the args I’m sending through on the notification when the user taps on the notification in the Notification Centre. I’ve set LaunchMode to SingleTop but on tapping the notification OnCreate is called and not OnNewIntent. I’ve searched high and low but what I’ve found is either not relevant or not helpful to me where I am with mobile development right now.

    I’d be grateful for any ideas as to what I might be the reason this isn’t working. My main activity inherits global::Xamarin.Forms.Platform.Android.FormsAppCompatActivity. Don’t know if that is relevant?

    1. Adam Pedley

      OnCreate will be called if your app isn’t running when the notification is clicked. If it is running and you are clicking it, then I’m not sure what would be going on.

      However, you can still get the Intent from OnCreate, and see if your args are in there.

      1. David Edwards

        Thanks for your response Adam. OnCreate is being called even though the app is running – it’s been doing my head in! I’ll see if I can get the args from the Intent in OnCreate. Thanks for your help.

  6. Chris Parker

    Hi Adam,

    Thank you for the article, it’s great. I have a question. OnNewIntent( Intent intent ) is fired and the app moves to the foreground. All that is fine, but the Intent.Extras is always null. I have extra data that I want to retrieve similar to;

    var message = intent.GetStringExtra( “message” );

    I am using LaunchMode = LaunchMode.SingleTop on the Activity. Any idea whey the Extras collection wouldn’t be passed in with the Intent?