Comparing the Pre Built App Backend Services | Geek Business

Backend Service Providers: What Makes Sense?

Building an app can take weeks or months depending on its complexity. Backend hosting and supporting services for apps have grown in popularity because the app building time can be cut significantly — down to just mere minutes in some cases. These services take your designs and implement the backend coding that brings the app to life. When it comes to app development, coding is the most important aspect of functionality.

Web coding is much more familiar territory for many developers simply because it has been around longer. Therefore, web developers are not always comfortable with mobile coding. Web uses HTML5, Javascript and CSS while iOS and Android use native code such as C, C++, Obj-C and Java. This is where pre-built services come in.

Simply download the SDK and the service provides backend support for API functions such as push notifications, location targeting, and social integration, among others. These services also make building to various platforms easier by providing SDKs for each. For a web developer, this can be an opening into the mobile development world. Not all backend providers are alike, though.

What Makes Sense: Using Native Coding

Service providers like Parse and Urban Airship are great options for developers because both have SDKs that utilize native code extensions. Using native code allows the app to run more smoothly on mobile platforms. UI will be smooth, images will be crisp, and the servers will be managed by professionals.

Parse was actually acquired by Facebook in April 2013. While both companies have worked together in the past, this partnership will look to make development across platforms even easier. Parse uses the cloud to store its code, eliminating the need for servers and allowing users to add custom logic to the backend.

Urban Airship is considered a top provider of push notification functions. Its coding allows your app to have notifications that look the same as those from native apps. Urban Airship also provides analytical tools and digital wallet capabilities that make it stand out from other backend providers.

What Doesn’t Make Sense: Using Code Wrappers

Other services simply wrap web apps in mobile code and put it on multiple platforms. The result, oftentimes, is a glitchy app that does not look as though it belongs on a mobile platform. This is the main complaint amongst critics of PhoneGap. It essentially takes HTML code functions and places it on mobile. In some instances it can work, but our mobile experience is — and should be — far different from our web experience.

Appcelerator Titanium only uses Javascript and single code base. This means that the same code is used on every mobile platform. While some functionality will remain the same, the UI will vary on each device because each operating system uses native code differently. Additionally, if a more experienced developer wanted to add a new native function or API they would need to be familiar with Titanium’s architecture. A lack of customizable options can truly hinder your app.

It should be noted that these services are often only capable of rudimentary functions. Users are also dependent on the provider. If the backend makes a fundamental change, the app has to be changed accordingly and potentially lose features. In order to build a highly-functional and complex application, a mobile developer with strong coding knowledge is a necessity.

By: Brandon Smith

Lovingly written by the editorial team at Fueled, London’s premier iPhone app design agency.