Push notifications are alerts, badges, or sounds which are pushed to a mobile device from a remote server. Apple delivers push notifications via the Apple Push Notification Service (APNS). Android devices receive push notifications via the Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) service. In the past, Android devices used the Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) framework. Windows Phone apps receive push notifications either via MPNS or the newer WNS.

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The desired behavior, is for the arrival of a push notification to trigger a background download so that when the user next opens the app (either by tapping on the notification, or by opening the app normally), that data is already there.