Motorola has acquired a new set of app development tools in the form of Y Combinator startup 280 North.

A Motorola official confirmed to TechCrunch that Motorola acquired the web-app developer to “help facilitate the continued expansion of Motorola’s application ecosystem.” The deal was reportedly worth $20 million.

280 North developed the Objective-J and Cappuccino app development platforms, designed for those with more limited and focused programming experience. The platforms were showed off in the company’s 280 Slides app.

These app development tools could be another way for Motorola to differentiate its devices from other Android phones. Device makers are already trying to do this by developing their own “flavors” of the basic Android operating system, including Motorola’s own MotoBlur.

Those major handset manufacturers are founding members of the Open Handset Alliance, which was created to help promote an open set of tools available to all developers in the form of the Android operating system.

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The deal was closed earlier in the summer, according to the Motorola official cited by TechCrunch and Barron. 280 North had initially raised $250,000 in a 2008 Angel investment fundraising round, giving a pretty sizable exit for its current investors if the TechCrunch number is accurate.

I’ve reached out to both Motorola and 280 North for confirmation and details, and I’ll update if I hear back.