Verizon Wireless touts new location, subscription APIs at VDC

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) trumpeted the release of new application programming interfaces spotlighting location and app subscription models during its second Verizon Developer Community conference, which took place last week in Las Vegas. According to Verizon Wireless, the new location APIs will enable developer partners to request and incorporate geo-specific data in applications and services optimized for most Verizon Wireless smartphones--the carrier will make available a coarse location API with an average range of one to two miles, as well as a refined location API promising more granular location information. Verizon Wireless requires subscribers to opt-in and consent to provide data to the requestor for all location-based services running on its network. 

Verizon Wireless also unveiled a Subscriptions API for its V Cast Apps storefront, enabling developer partners to offer a series of new pricing and recurring billing options across BlackBerry and Android applications. The API can be applied to both new and existing applications--Verizon developer partners can begin supplying consumers with billing alternatives including trial-based, time-based, limited use, recurring download (optimized for episodic apps, e.g. comic books) and monthly subscriptions alongside free, one-price and multiple-price options. Developers may select one or multiple billing models, and all pricing options will be charged directly to the subscriber's bill.

Verizon Wireless vice president of consumer product solutions Greg Haller said the company will release dozens of additional APIs in the near future, with an emphasis on device capabilities and presence. Haller added that Verizon recently added a wealth of new developer tools to its VDC portal, among them solutions targeting analytics, reporting, in-app advertising, push notifications and facial recognition. "We're adding to [the portal] every day," Haller said.

Verizon Wireless also unveiled NAVBuilder Inside, an exclusive software development kit enabling programmers to integrate interactive location, mapping and navigation services to cross-platform apps spanning Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Brew. NAVBuilder Inside features two parts: MapKit, which provides an interface for embedding maps (regular, satellite and hybrid), local search and directions directly into applications; and LocationKit, which enables location positioning for apps using standalone GPS, Cell ID or Wi-Fi.  LocationKit additionally enables Cell ID location positioning on non-WiFi capable devices like Brew-enabled feature phones.

Also new: Mobile Web Open Snacks and Mobile Web Developer Toolkit, a pair of new developer tools powered by mobile content solutions provider Motricity's hosted, mobile-as-a-service mCore platform. The Mobile Web Open Snacks publishing API framework enables developers to build dynamic, personalized mobile web content feeds to more effectively engage with consumers and promote services--based on the RSS v2.0 standard, the solution extends RSS to include additional channel elements, complete with content refresh controls to update and customize feeds. The Mobile Web Developer Toolkit supplies a set of tools to optimize Internet content for wireless devices, extending the Open Source Mototools JavaScript framework and including a library of utilities to address fragmentation concerns.

"If you're not developing for the mobile web, your competition is," Motricity chief strategy and marketing officer Jim Ryan told VDC attendees. "Developers have figured out it's apps and the web. Both are important--it's not either/or."

Verizon Wireless executive director of consumer data services Colson Hillier said the operator anticipates the mobile web will emerge as a growing opportunity for developers in the months ahead. "The mobile Internet is the next frontier--we see a lot of continued investment and focus," he said. "[Verizon Wireless] will help drive consistency and standardization." Hillier urged developers to closely examine the mobile web opportunity, citing ease of development, content portability across platforms and simplified app maintenance. He credited recent mobile web advances including enhanced processor capability, improved user interfaces and browser standardization, noting that WebKit is fast becoming the default rendering engine. "The mobile Internet can transcend the way we communicate, the way business is done and the way we're entertained," Hillier said.

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