Mobile services company Urban Airship and location provider SimpleGeo are today announcing a new partnership that will help mobile developers access the strengths in both systems. The companies' goal is to provide developers with the ability to send out geo-targeted, geo-fenced, personalized push notifications. These "smarter" notifications represent the next phase in mobile messaging, say the companies.

"We think the next generation of smarter apps will be here in about the next 18 months," says Scott Kveton, CEO of Urban Airship.

For mobile developers, this news is very exciting. With over 400,000 iPhone applications now on the market, and some 200,000 on Android, developers are constantly challenged to maintain users' engagement. With push notifications, you can grab the user's attention briefly, but often, those messages are not welcome, especially if they interrupt other tasks.

With geo-fencing and geo-location technology, notifications in location-aware applications get smarter. Users will be able to get real-time alerts with information relevant to them exactly when they need it.

Specifically, explains Urban Airship via blog post, developers will have access to:

  • All the data in SimpleGeo Context on an app by app basis (zip code, county, city, country, weather, state and federal political data)
  • Enhanced Tag system by automatically tagging devices at the platform level with location information provided by SimpleGeo Context
  • Added Boolean Tag functionality which lets you address you audience with complex AND, OR, and wildcard functionality
  • Enhanced Urban Airship Reports over time to expose views of your audience by location when adding geographic context to our system

Not Just Location, but Context

But the system won't be just about you and your location, as many previous geo-fencing technologies have provided. It will also be about context.

What that means is that your mobile device will know not just where you are, but what time of day it is, what the weather's like, what's around you in the neighborhood and even more. Maybe it also knows about your past behavior, like you frequent this store or that restaurant. You order this beverage at that coffee shop. The bar you're walking towards is your friends' favorite. And so on.

If anything, the idea is very similar to what Google's chairman (then CEO) Eric Schmidt had in mind when he talked about the future of mobile search being serendipitous discovery of the world around you. "As I'm walking down the street in San Francisco I want my mobile device to tell me about the history here," said Schmidt last fall. "Think of it as a serendipity engine," he explained, referring to the future of Google search on mobile.

As it turns out, it looks like someone else (or rather, two someone elses) have beaten Google to punch - the combination of SimpleGeo and Urban Airship will implement that type of system, while Google tries to reinvent social over on Google+. How serendipitous indeed.