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What are the differences between push, text, and email notifications?

Notification method performance can vary based on factors such as the device in use (e.g., iOS, Android, etc.) or your network provider. 

Push notifications

Push notifications are sent from the Alarm.com server directly to the Alarm.com app. As long as your device has a strong and consistent internet connection, push notifications should arrive within a few seconds after being sent.

Since push notifications are received using the Internet, they can be actionable. This means you can tap on the notification to be instantly brought within the Alarm.com app or send commands directly from certain notifications. 

Example: You receive an Arming Reminder notification and are provided the option to arm your system from the notification.

Additionally, push notifications can be set up to send either plain text or thumbnail images for certain notifications (e.g., video clips).

Note: The option to adjust the alert sound for push notifications depends on the device and application settings. For more information, see Can I choose which sounds play when push notifications are received?.

Text notifications

Text messages can be sent two ways depending on the type of event that triggers it. Text messages are sent from the Alarm.com server to a phone number using a non-data portion of the cellular network (i.e., SMS) and a low-level data network (i.e., MMS). These messages should arrive within seconds of being sent out. 

Note: Limitations with your cellular carrier's infrastructure can cause inconsistencies, delays, or possibly prevent delivery entirely.

Text messages are not actionable and therefore are not compatible with Unexpected Activity notifications.  For more information about Unexpected Activity Alerts, see Configure Unexpected Activity Alert notifications

Cellular provider service plan conflicts can occur with T-Mobile customers, Canadian cellular plans, and less common cellular carriers. It is also possible to block the From address in your phone, which prevents delivery of these notifications. This process changes based on the device in use and it is recommended to contact the cellular provider for assistance.  

Note: The alert sound for text notifications may be customizable if this is a feature the phone's operating software supports.

SMS (Short Message Service)

SMS is limited by the length of the message and can only contain plain text. Since the file size is very small for these messages, these can be received with only a connection to the cellular carrier voice network (no data access required). This type of notification is recommended if you have inconsistent access to Cellular data connections. 

MMS (Multi-Media Service)

MMS can contain media in the form of video and pictures (e.g., thumbnails, video clips, etc.) and therefore requires a connection to a data section of their cellular carrier. MMS notifications are sent to your Email to SMS address which is based on your cellular provider. 

Important: A data connection is required to receive all contents of an MMS notification and send times can be inconsistent due to file size, processing time, the Cellular Provider, or potential SPF conflicts.

Email notifications

Email notifications are delivered from the Alarm.com server directly to your email inbox using an internet connection. Since they are sent to an email inbox, they can be viewed from any device with an internet connection and access to the inbox.

Email apps/clients may provide the ability to receive a push notification when a new email arrives. However, these push notifications will redirect you to the email in your inbox instead of Alarm.com.

Depending on your email provider, you may have different experiences with potential spam and junk filters. Email notifications can accidentally go to a spam or junk folder based on personal filters and email-provided filters that have been created. For more information, see What can I do if someone is not receiving notifications?.

The alert sound for email notifications may be customizable if the device being used to view the notifications supports this ability. Alert sounds for email notifications may vary based on the device in use. 

Example: The Gmail application will have different alert sound options for computers and mobile devices.

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