Yesterday Urban Airship announced that it would be shutting down SimpleGeo on March 31 2012, only a few months after acquiring the company for around $3.5 million. The news irked plenty of developers — you can find a thread on Hacker News here where some SimpleGeo customers are voicing their frustration.
So what are developers supposed to do now? Urban Airship’s blog post outlines a few options, including a partnership with Factual to port over any Places data developers might have stored on SimpleGeo. But SimpleGeo also has a handful of other classes of data, like Storage, that Factual can’t be used for. Now Parse is stepping in to try to help out (and snag) any customers looking to figure out where to move next.
Parse is a well-funded, developer-facing service that’s designed to help build applications efficiently. It aims to handle the back-end tasks associated with creating mobile applications (things like user accounts and, in this case, server-side storage), which allows mobile devs to focus on the app itself.
In their FAQ announcing SimpleGeo’s shutdown, Urban Airship suggested other tools to handle Storage, including Google Fusion Tables, GeoCommons, Oracle Spatial, and Esri ArcGIS. But Parse cofounder Tikhon Bernstam says that the tools on the list “are all bad”. He explains that in the case of the aforementioned services, developers will be responsible for migrating their data off of SimpleGeo. He adds that none of these services offer a mobile SDK, and in some cases developers are expected to host the data themselves, or pay for pricey database storage.
Parse’s tool, which they whipped up yesterday afternoon, is a lot easier than that: you just have to enter your SimpleGeo API keys, and it’ll transfer all of your data over in one step. Obviously this isn’t a purely benevolent move — Parse sees an opportunity to get a bunch of new users — but it could help reduce a few headaches nonetheless.
You can see a video of the tool in action below.