Location-Based Push Notifications Lift Off With Urban Airship Announcement

Adam DuVander
Apr. 03 2012, 11:00AM EDT

The push notification and in app purchase enabler, Urban Airship, has added a long-expected feature to its Urban Airship API. Users can now segment audiences by location using technology Urban Airship acquired from SimpleGeo.

"We've built a bunch of tools to enable personalization," Urban Airship's Scott Kveton said. "Now we're going to layer that personalization with location and context."

Urban Airship is building upon what SimpleGeo learned about storing and querying location data in real-time. This knowledge is incorporated it into the new feature, which is available via the API or the push notification composer shown above. It uses the last known location of users, which requires their permission and, for the best accuracy, background location must be enabled.

An initial integrator of the new technology is indoor navigation platform Meridian. Its iPhone app connects users to museums, sports stadiums and other large indoor spaces like shopping malls. All these places use the same app, so Meridian has many users geographically distributed, the perfect use case for Urban Airship's newest feature. For example, when leaving a sporting venue, Meridian could send a customer service survey on behalf of the stadium.

Kveton sees many use cases, including a national retailer with excess inventory at specific stores. Assuming that retailer has many users of its app, it could use Urban Airship to send push notifications about a sale to those near the stores with too much stuff. Excess inventory is the new just-in-time Starbucks coupon, the long-promised scenario of a mobile world.

Urban Airship's customers could use location before, but it was not built into the platform. Previously they would need to use the company's tagging system, associating postal codes or other location data with particular users. First a partnership with SimpleGeo, then the acquisition moved this feature to the forefront. "We could not have moved this quickly and got into location without SimpleGeo. And now we believe we're the leaders in location," Kveton said.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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