Urban Airship demonstrated a beta service at today's Apple developers conference that will handle the heavy lifting for small iPhone app shops seeking to utilize the new push notification functionality and the ability to sell goods in-app instead of sending customers to Apple's store.Portland, Oregon based startup
The service uses RESTful APIs and Open Source code libraries to handle "the tedious, annoying, difficult and troublesome parts of the development process" and offer outsourced scalability solutions.
Portland tech blog Silicon Florist offers a detailed discussion of the Urban Airship solution to problems that other iPhone dev community members say make app development less affordable and accessible to small dev shops. The service isn't open to the public yet but is taking contact info for beta testers.
Leading iPhone dev blog Mobile Orchard has covered complications in both the push notification feature and the store kit well. Having these tasks outsourced to a service like Urban Airship could make independent developers' lives a lot easier.
We love a good infrastructure play, but they can get complicated when it comes to a tightly controlled platform like Apple's. Last month we wrote about a mysterious and troubling trend of iPhone developers reporting rejection of their apps based on their use of the PhoneGap dev environment, a service that greatly democratizes mobile development in general. It's hard to say why but Apple appears unhappy with developers utilizing that 3rd party platform in delivery if not creation of apps.
Will Apple play nice with startups helping startups to develop on the fabulous platform that is the iPhone? We sure hope so. There's a long and rich history of web services amplifying the innovative work of developers on the web - having these kinds of services available for the iPhone as well sounds like a great way to take mobile to the next level. We'll be keeping an eye on Urban Airship.