In the world of mobile apps, there’s a behind-the-scenes hero that ensures your phone stays buzzing with timely notifications and seamless updates.

Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) facilitates communication between apps and devices. But what exactly is FCM, and how does it make this seamless connection possible? Below is an in-depth guide explaining everything you need about FCM.

What is Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM)?

Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) is a cross-platform messaging system that enables you to send messages securely across multiple platforms at no cost.

FCM enables developers to send messages to individual devices, groups, or devices subscribed to specific topics. It supports various message types, including notification messages that trigger the display of a notification on the customer’s device and data messages that allow developers to handle the message within the app’s code.

With FCM, you can alert a client application when a fresh email or additional data is ready for synchronization. You can utilize notification messages to encourage customers to reconnect and stay engaged, boosting retention rates.

How Does Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) Work?

An FCM setup comprises two primary parts for both sending and receiving messages:

  • A reliable environment, like Cloud Functions for Firebase or an application server, to construct, aim, and dispatch messages.
  • A client app for Apple, Android, or web (JavaScript) that accepts messages through the respective platform-specific transport service.

Messaging can be initiated through the Firebase Admin SDK or the FCM server protocol. For testing purposes and to transmit marketing or engagement messages, the Notifications composer is available, equipped with robust targeting and analytics features, including the ability to reach/engage custom imported segments.

Here is how a typical implementation path looks for an FCM setup:

Implementation Path

  1. Preparing the FCM SDK – Configure Firebase and FCM within your app by following the platform-specific setup guidelines.
  2. Building the client app – Implement message handling, subscribe to topics, or integrate additional optional functionalities into your client app. During development, utilize the Notifications composer to send test messages conveniently.
  3. Developing the application server – Choose between utilizing the Firebase Admin SDK or the server protocol to establish your sending logic. This involves authentication, constructing send requests, managing responses, and more. Proceed to develop this logic within your trusted environment.

A company sets up FCM to take advantage of the various features it offers to an organization and its developers.

Features of FCM

FCM’s primary capabilities include the ability for customers to receive either notification messages or data messages that the application’s code can interpret. 

Another feature is its message targeting function, allowing messages to reach client applications via diverse methods, from the FCM platform to individual devices, specific device groups, or devices subscribed to particular topic areas. 

FCM also provides a communication channel from client applications to the server, enabling the transmission of various message types from chosen devices or client apps through the FCM channel.

Here are a few more features of FCM:

  • Notifications Composer – A tool to create, test, and send notifications, facilitating easy messaging setup and testing.
  • Topic-based Messaging – Supports message distribution to specific topics, allowing customers to subscribe to topics of interest.
  • Integration with Other Firebase Services – Seamlessly integrates with other Firebase services, enhancing capabilities for app development, analytics, and customer engagement.

FCM’s features allow it to work seamlessly across various platforms, providing many benefits to companies. Here is how companies benefit from using FCM:

What are the Benefits of Using FCM?

FCM embodies a digital bridge, seamlessly connecting creators with their audience across diverse platforms. Its prowess lies in its ability to unify communication, allowing for precise message delivery, insightful analytics, and effortless integration within the broader Firebase ecosystem. Firebase Cloud Messaging offers several benefits to developers and businesses:

  • Cross-Platform Support – FCM works seamlessly across various platforms (Android, iOS, web), simplifying messaging across different devices.
  • Reliability and Scalability – It ensures reliable message delivery, even under challenging network conditions, and scales effortlessly to handle large customer bases.
  • Targeted Messaging – Allows precise targeting of messages based on customer segments, device types, or subscribed topics, enabling personalized and relevant communications.
  • Analytics and Insights – Provides valuable data on message engagement, delivery rates, and customer interaction, allowing businesses to refine their messaging strategies.
  • Easy Integration – Integrates smoothly with other Firebase services, simplifying development and enhancing app capabilities.
  • Notification Composer – A user-friendly tool for creating, testing, and sending notifications, streamlining the messaging setup process.
  • Topic-Based Messaging – Supports broadcasting messages to specific topics or groups, facilitating efficient communication with interested customers.
  • Customizable Payloads – Allows for the inclusion of additional data in messages, enabling tailored customer experiences.
  • Cost-Effective – FCM is cost-effective as it offers a generous free tier for messaging, making it accessible to developers and businesses of various scales.
  • Security Measures – Ensures secure transmission of messages with encryption, maintaining data privacy during communication.

FCM vs Push Amplification™

When stacked up against FCM, Push Amplification™ can give over 200% more audience reachability. Here’s a detailed comparison.


FCM (Firebase Cloud Messaging) and GCM (Google Cloud Messaging) are both messaging services provided by Google, but FCM is an upgraded and improved version of GCM. GCM was the original platform and was later replaced by FCM. Here are the key differences –

  • Features and functionality – FCM encompasses all the features of GCM but offers additional functionalities and improvements. FCM provides more comprehensive tools and capabilities for message targeting, analytics, and integration with other Firebase services.
  • Simplified development – FCM simplifies the development process by integrating with the broader Firebase platform, providing a unified environment for app development, analytics, and customer engagement.
  • User-friendly interface – FCM introduces a more user-friendly interface, making it easier for developers to set up and manage notifications, test messages, and analyze customer engagement.
  • Compatibility –  While both services are compatible with Android, iOS, and web platforms, FCM is designed to support newer technologies and evolving requirements better.
  • Migration- Google recommended migrating from GCM to FCM for improved features, better performance, and ongoing support. FCM’s architecture is optimized for newer devices and offers enhanced capabilities over GCM.

In essence, FCM is an evolution and improvement upon the foundation laid by GCM, offering a more robust, feature-rich, and developer-friendly messaging service with better integration into the Firebase ecosystem.

However, the longer the customer is inactive on the app, the lower the chances are that FCM will successfully deliver notifications. That’s why MoEnagage has come up with Push Amplification™ Plus. With Push Amplification™ Plus, MoEngage has delivered a 40% uplift in reaching inactive customers.