On Monday, eBay announced and demonstrated its new Auctions app at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Users can log in to their accounts to buy and sell items wherever they are. The app integrates with Webkit, allowing people to write out full descriptions just like they would in Safari, which has been formatted to match the finger-friendly screen. Users can also browse and sort through auction photos the same way they're used to doing with native albums.
While eBay has recently been taking steps to improve its Web 2.0 initiatives with social widgets and a really slick looking Adobe Air app, the company hadn't done much to optimize its site for Apple as many others have. There has a been a version of the site that's optimized for mobile phones since mid-2006, but it's not nearly as eye friendly as the new native app. Developer iRibbitproduced its own iPhone optimized version of the site that was certified by eBay (see ZDNet coverage), but the native app has the potential to store more information while offline as well as take advantage of the iPhone's hardware like the built-in digital camera for taking pictures of items without using a separate device and photo-hosting service.
The app will be free with the launch of the App Store, available "early next month."
Update: To help with notifications--like if you get outbid, Apple is providing a centralized notification service. It lets developers push badges, alert sounds (which can be customized), and textual alerts that look like SMS messages. None of these is a background process that runs on your phone, which Apple says will keep battery drain at a minimum.