Table of Contents
- Why Do You Need a Backend for Mobile Apps?
- Application Backend Types
- Which Apps Need a Backend?
- What Are the Best Backend Technologies for Mobile Apps?
- What Is The Best Backend Server For Mobile Apps?
Without a powerful engine, a rocket is nothing. The same is true for a mobile application. Without a functional backend, the application capabilities and user interface will be limited, regardless of how good the user interface is. That’s because the backend supports data exchange and communication. It allows the mobile application to do tasks that demand a considerable amount of computing power.
Our guide gives you everything you need to know about backend, their types, and the technologies used to build them.
Why Do You Need a Backend for Mobile Apps?
Backend is the inner layer of a site or application that is hidden from the user. It’s also known as the server component. It is the service software and hardware part that runs on the server.
The server is hidden behind the user interface, the site or application visible element that operates on the client side. For example, when a user submits a query into a search engine and hits the “Search” button, this query is routed to the server – that’s where search algorithms pick out the relevant data. However, the search results displayed are just the user interface.
Application Backend Types
Servers are computers or programs that provide services to other computing devices. This approach is the standard server architecture most widely used by the developers.
A server-oriented backend for mobile apps can be hosted in the cloud. The benefits of this back-end architecture include simplified data exchange and seamless integration with various computing devices. Because this architecture is centralised, it offers a single access point that can be in your home, office, or anywhere else.
The server-oriented architecture consists of three layers:
API. This stands for Application Programming Interface. It acts as an intermediate utility that allows a developer to add internal functionality to a website or an app. For example, it can be used to integrate with social networks, send messages, integrate with smartphone features, and more. However, the benefits and capabilities of the backend API for mobile apps are largely determined by the capabilities of the technology that uses it.
Database. It is a repository of large amounts of data available to users and computer programs. Databases are created and managed using various types of modelling techniques. All types of database technologies offer utilities for creating and managing the data storage. Yet the developers can also create their own external applications if they so wish. Such apps interact with the database via a command set called queries to store new or retrieve existing data.
Application. The app layer consists of computer programs that send various queries to the database. As soon as the database responds, the results are displayed in the appropriate sections of the application interface.
The serverless backend architecture has servers that are deployed and managed by a third party. In essence, the backend provider takes care of server maintenance and scaling if need be. This way, the developer doesn’t have to worry about server troubles. At the same time, the server vendor offers an application dashboard to manage application features.
This type of architecture helps developers process application projects quickly. Running cloud applications is also hassle-free as third parties take care of server management and scaling. Experts consider a serverless architecture to be more secure. Plus, this solution frees the developer from the server management hassle. The reason is simple: experienced back-end providers can deal with security issues more effectively.
But keep in mind that since the serverless server architecture is based on cloud technologies, it is more vulnerable to attacks. Therefore, special attention must be paid to minimising vulnerabilities in order to make the server secure.
This type of architecture consists of a centralised server network. These servers are located in various physical locations. Because there is no central location, no one takes full responsibility for managing the backend.
This type of network often uses open source technologies running on individual terminals in a peer-to-peer network. Two most popular decentralised networks are Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Programmers can use any language to create the frontend and user interface with this kind of backend for mobile apps. Plus, frontend storage of a decentralised architecture can be hosted in backend apps.
Which Apps Need a Backend?
Apps that do not need a backend
Simply put, backend is the software that the app uses to connect to the Internet. So instead of wondering whether your application needs a backend, ask yourself, “Does my application require internet access?”.
Some programs can function completely offline. Of course, you’ll need the Internet to download them. Yet if your application is able to function without an Internet connection, it can certainly function without a backend. Here are some apps that do not require a backend.
- Calculator. You can use the Calculator app to perform some simple mathematical equations. These can be easily calculated on a smartphone and no backend is required.
- Measure. This app enables users to measure anything using only their phone without a ruler (e.g. apartment measurements in sq.m.). An app like that doesn’t need a backend.
- Camera. Every smartphone has this app by default. It can be used to take photos or record videos and it does not require a backend to function. Of course, the current version of the application stores image backups on the server. But the backend is not required to capture a picture, as per the application basic principle.
- Voice Recorder. An audio recording app that uses the microphone on the user’s smartphone. It saves recordings to the device local storage. Thus the app is totally functional without backend.
- Tetris. This game needs no introduction. You don’t need a backend to create a game like that – most single-player games are playable without server components. Should you need a leaderboard, a backend would be useful.
Apps that need a backend
As you see, backend is required by apps with more complex functionality. Such apps are very common. It’s simpler to name the categories they belong to.
- Messaging applications. Messenger apps grow in popularity with smartphone users. Thus demand for custom mobile app development increases as well. Although building a messenger app is not easy, developers can swiftly create these with the support of high-quality server services. Messaging apps require real-time database access to transmit or receive messages and instantly convert data. MBaaS (mobile backend as a service) companies specialise in providing RESTful APIs, storage servers, notification services, and messaging protocols, critical for those operations.
- Geolocation apps. Geolocation applications are extensively used in online taxi, food delivery, and parcel delivery services. Fortunately, server-side programming tools work excellently for location-based properties as well, with Geohashes and GeoPoint being some of the more popular examples. As a result, some backend apps assist with real-time queries and large databases to support various geolocation requirements. Other backend solutions provide services which help secure server support for apps like that.
- IoT applications. Applications for the Internet of Things are used on IoT devices and belong to specific industries. These IoT applications could be related to traffic monitoring, health, wearable gadgets, water supply, fleet management, or agriculture. Server services are absolutely necessary for this kind of software. MBaaS systems may simply combine these app data sources and connect them to other applications. Additionally, support for SDKs and APIs for server services is also very beneficial for good IoT software performance.
- Games. Backend services for mobile apps are also excellent when it comes to game projects. MBaaS systems can handle all of the server operations requirements of gaming software. Server services offer a high-performance cloud architecture perfect for gaming applications. Similarly, the availability of NoSQL databases, log management, and tracking technologies makes server services a viable option for developing gaming apps’ backends.
What Are the Best Backend Technologies for Mobile Apps?
Web Server Tools
A web backend server for mobile apps can store, process, and provide data to apps installed on end-user phones, all while keeping the server and client communication secure.
- Apache Http Server;
- Apache Tomcat;
A database backend for mobile apps enables dynamism, which is increasingly important these days. It is in charge of providing data to the client, as well as accepting and storing previously transmitted data.
- Oracle RDBMS;
- IBM DB2;
- Microsoft SQL Server;
- SAP Sybase ASE;
- Microsoft Access;
- Amazon RDS;
Developers can use Git clients to work with visual version control and a project collaboration system. Since the user does not have to create code for version control manually, they can perform their jobs much faster.
- GitHub Client.
Microservice Platform Tools
Microservices is a collection of tools and technologies that provide a variety of services through the Internet. They have predefined functions and algorithms, allowing developers to quickly design sophisticated software.
Local Development Environment
An LDE, or a local development environment, enables you to set up services on a workstation to run a website or a mobile app.
Collaboration Service Tools
Collaboration Services technologies streamline professional project collaboration. This removes the bottlenecks common in feedback and approval workflow procedures, allowing for smooth real-time collaboration. Communication, project and task management, as well as file sharing and management are the three primary functionalities of collaboration software.
App Performance Testing Tools
A good performance testing tool is necessary to determine the efficiency, speed, scalability, reliability, and compatibility of your apps.
- Apache JMeter;
What Is The Best Backend Server For Mobile Apps?
Server service providers abound in the cloud computing world. The most reputable and reliable ones, alongside some examples of internal servers for mobile apps are listed below.
Parse, created in 2011, is a solid server solution for mobile applications. It is a full-featured application development platform as well as an MBaaS platform. This server service is quite popular among professionals, boasting 35,000+ stars and 16,000+ forks on GitHub.
Similarly, Facebook support makes it a tried-and-true option for developers and businesses alike. 500px, Weebly, Bubble, and Hipmunk are the key companies that use the Parse platform for their technology stack.
Firebase is a renowned open source server-side online and mobile app development platform made public in 2011. Due to its free features and an easy price mechanism, this service is an excellent alternative for startups.
Its Google Cloud and analytics tools support makes Firebase useful to a variety of businesses. E.g., Halfbrick, a video game startup, leveraged Firebase services to retain consumers – and the results were outstanding.
Furthermore, National Public Radio (NPR) lauds its remote setup, analytics, and BigQuery capabilities with Firebase. This server service is also used by Venom, Alibaba, and Lift for their mobile software.
Kinvey is a high-performance mobile server service that you should consider for your project. In short, it is a cloud platform that allows developers to use minimal code to establish the backend of their mobile, web, or chat application.
Insurance, healthcare, and manufacturing are the primary industries that use this MBaaS platform. It is also a viable option for startups, major corporations, and small and medium-sized organisations.
Now that you understand what a mobile application backend is, it’s time to ask the big question: does your app need a backend? If you’re making an app that deals with user data, it definitely does.
When choosing a technological stack for the software backend, ensure that it meets the requirements of your application, business logic, and future growth potential.
Our team of professionals has years of experience in mobile app backend development. Whether you already know all the details of your future project or only a vague idea for an application, contact us to book a free consultation and discuss what Bamboo Agile can do for your business.
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