The traditional ‘mobile-first’ approach for creating applications is pretty much outdated right now. The responsibilities of app developers go beyond simply making a website, and then following it up with custom software for the iOS or the Android (as the case might be) platform. Most apps have to be connected to a secure cloud service or backend (on the server side), which is generally connected to the web. This is where the importance of backend-as-a-service (BaaS) or mobile backend-as-a-service (mBaaS) comes into the picture. In today’s discussion, we will briefly feature the top 10 backend API technologies that you can use for your next mobile app:
On of the biggest advantages of this BaaS tool is that it completely does away with the need for server-side coding. Things become a lot easier for mobile app developers, as a result. As many as 6 core backend services are embedded in Backendless, which serves as a runtime platform as well. The REST APIs make development and deployment quicker, along with the built-in software development kits (SDKs). Apart from being a handy mBaaS service, Backendless works as an API engine, a hosting tool and an app marketplace.
For cross-platform app development, Appcelerator is a highly popular backend API technology resource. It offers third-party developers the option to build and host their applications on private, public or virtual private servers. An additional advantage of Accelerator is the in-depth insights that it offers to users, via its high-end analytics engine. With this BaaS, developers can easily keep track of app downloads, retention and engagement levels.
Initially focused mainly for mobile app companies and agencies, the Kinvey BaaS tool is increasingly being used by indie developers across the world. Arguably the most user-friendly backend service for making apps on this list, Kinvey comes with an excellent range of features – right from app analytics and file store, to push notifications system, custom code compatibility and a data store. Coders do not have to worry about connecting their applications to the cloud either – this tool sets that up automatically. Kinvey allows users to follow the agile app development model, and is available for 4 different pricing options (Individual (Free), Startup, Business and Enterprise).
A relatively new entrant in the mBaaS market (launched in 2012), Firebase has witnessed a rapid expansion in its user base over the last couple of years. The prime reason for this, according to experts from the domain of mobile app development, is the real-time data synchronization feature that it offers. This feature ensures that there is zero latency in the tool – something that cannot be claimed about many of the other BaaS service providers listed here. Robust security is yet another high point of Firebase, with built-in support for third-party authorization tokens (given by developers). Developers can also use HTTP REST API, or access third-party libraries on Firebase.
Built on the ‘pay-as-you-go’ model, the Kumulos platform lets iOS and Android developers integrate features in their applications with absolute ease. It helps to shorten the overall app development cycle – consequently cutting down on unnecessary expenses. Kumulos is mostly used by app agencies, which get the opportunity to create applications on a budget, and earn big when the apps go live at the stores. In addition to iOS and Android, this backend API tool supports many other platforms, like OS X, Windows Phone, Lua Corona and PHP.
If you are more into making HTML5 applications, Sencha Space might just be the ideal mBaaS solution for you. It can be used for developing apps for both smartphones as well as desktop, and comes with a powerful and completely secure runtime environment. The data security feature of Sencha Space is, in fact, one of its best features, along with the smooth user access and controls. There are two versions of this BaaS tool – the Workforce version and the (more pricey) Enterprise version.
Seamless scalability and easy deployability have got to be the two biggest pros of the Amazon AWS backend tool. It offers a plethora of services for mobile developers, including data storage, user analytics, authentication, content delivery, and obviously, robust backend logic. The BaaS resource ranks high on flexibility, and requires users to pay on the basis of the services they use (for instance, Amazon CloudFront or Amazon Cognito or Amazon Dynamo DB, or any of the others). Amazon AWS allows developers to save money during app delivery.
With a strong vendor support and an abundance of SDKs, Kii is one of the best backend connectivity resource for any new application. What’s more, the tool has a clear focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) – something that is expected to grow bigger in the next few quarters or so. From within the same cloud platform, coders can test and optimize their applications, as well as handle scaling requirements. Kii also supports push notifications and in-built geo-location features.
Widely used to create both iOS and Android applications, Appery.io has its very own ‘App Builder’ – which sets it somewhat apart from the other popular mBaaS service providers. Appery comes with an impressive collection of custom API plug-ins. Since the tool is completely cloud-based, developers need not be concerned about platform maintenance. The browser-supported rapid development model of Appery.io is complemented by enterprise-standard middleware, and top-notch visual development support. Appery.io is available in 5 alternative versions – Basic, Standard, Pro, Team and Enterprise.
Among the first to offer comprehensive mBaaS solutions, AnyPresence gives total control over source code to mobile app developers. This is ensured by the non-proprietary technology stack of the tool, which also allows for easy portability of app projects. Coders can customize their code as much as required, while working with AnyPresence. The strong system architecture of the tool is one of the key reasons for its success.
Parse, which was acquired by Facebook in 2013, will be discontinued from January 2017. It was a hugely popular BaaS tool – and there have been angry reactions (including a protest petition) over the news of it shutting down. Other mBaaS service providers that have been stopped include StackMob and OpenKit.io (a powerful tool for game developers).
By using backend API technology, developers can unify the entire app development process – bringing together the repetitive tasks for different operating systems and devices. With apps becoming more and more complicated over time (thanks to the constant evolution of technology), mBaaS is growing in importance – since it allows developers to deliver more within a shorter period. Having secure server-side cloud support is an absolute must for many new apps, and any of the tools mentioned here (depending on the specific requirements) can be used for the purpose.