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What Are Cloud-Connected Mobile Apps - and Should You Care?


Jeevan Sharma

August 03, 2017

With smartphones becoming an extension of the palm of our hands, mobile apps have become ubiquitous fixtures in our lives. So prolific has been mobile application adoption that today, enterprise applications are mimicking consumer applications in their looks and usability. However, it is not just great usability and a slick user interface that makes a mobile application rank high on the adoption matrix. In order to drive app usage, the entire mobile app ecosystem has to be rich and high-quality, and that every piece of software used in the mobile application, each piece of code that is run performs optimally and efficiently. Given that today most mobile apps are connected to one or more than one web services and has to pull data from multiple sources, it becomes essential to ensure that the mobile backend is functioning optimally. In order to do so, mobile app developers also have to look beyond the direct REST API’s because of costs associated with bandwidth, battery power etc., ensure that app performance does not suffer and the approach that they do take can provide the desired services to the mobile client and deliver on usability and application performance.

Cloud Connected Mobile Apps – The New Mobile App Superhero

Given the growing adoption of mobile applications, organizations have to guarantee high performance and usability. In order to stay in step with evolving market and business demands, frequent upgrades and updates of the mobile apps are becoming imperative. However, updating a mobile application can take time as not only do the developers have to write the update, run the specific and required tests on it but they also have to get the app reviewed and then upload the app back on the app store. This entire process can take time, can lead to delays and also impact the application performance during this process. Since today’s users have no time for slow applications and want elevated mobile app experiences. Developers need to make sure that the above is done in the shortest possible time.

Cloud-connected mobile applications come to the rescue here and help mobile developers leverage cloud computing to orchestrate better extension of the mobile apps. In cloud-connected mobile apps, the application’s content is hosted on a centralized cloud server which allows developers update applications with ease. In these apps, the mobile client code (residing on the phone) connects with the backend (residing on the cloud) for accessing the shared services. With cloud-connected mobile apps, the burden of app store reviews can be avoided completely and the newly updated apps do not need to be downloaded again.

An example of a cloud-connected mobile app is Instagram which uses cloud to store the photos while only the app code for accessing the photos resides on the phone.

The Benefits of Cloud-Connected Mobile Apps

The cloud has always managed to increase efficiencies everywhere that it has been used and mobile apps are no different. Here’s a look at some of the benefits that cloud-connected mobile apps offer:

  • Ability to your own mobile backend to facilitate easy assimilation of data from multiple sources

  • Methodical and organized data assimilation and aggregation by running scheduled background tasks in a customized format to reduce latency and client-side processing and lower the network requests

  • Synchronized data cache in the local database for faster setups and great offline experiences

  • Easy connectivity with important resources such as authentication, push notifications, table data, notifications etc. for ease of development across Android, iOS or Windows platform

  • Convenient and automatic scalability options to scale up or down according to market demands

  • Faster cross-platform development, data-storage, and data retrieval as the code base is stored in the database logic

  • Fast, secure and easy authentication process using API keys that allow requests to be routed to the appropriate data store.

  • Improved list view performance with fast loading and scrolling

Go Cross-Platform with Ease with Xamarin

Cloud-connected mobile apps also take the pain away from developing cross-platform native applications. Since almost 90% of mobile applications are developed using iOS or Android platforms, it can be a tall order to develop applications that span both the platforms. To solve this problem, mobile developers need to use a single code and write exceptions for when the platforms diverge. Since not all cross-platform development tools are created equal, developers need a development platform that allows them to connect across all functionalities of the targeted platform.

The Xamarin cross platform framework by Microsoft comes to rescue here – it is based on XAML and .NET.

  • It alleviates these issues and helps developers use common UI pages to create robust applications that allow sharing of business logic across multiple mobile platforms.

  • Applications built using this framework can also easily integrate the mobile backend with the Azure Cloud.

  • The Azure App Service provides a cross platform SDK that communicates easily with mobile apps developed on Xamarin that communicates with RESTful service endpoints for seamless data connections, user authentications, and push notifications.

  • It also offers online and offline data synchronization,file storage and allows the developers to create a mobile backend easily using Node.JS or ASP.NET using just a few lines of code.

Developing cloud connected mobile apps using Xamarin framework and Azure help in creating the mobile apps faster. It also takes the pain out of mobile app maintenance. Using this model, organizations can easily create connected mobile applications without investing in costly infrastructure demands, customize app content, appearance and also streamline the efficiency of their content distribution network competently and with ease. You say this is a match made in heaven. We say, ‘yes’!

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