The rapid availability of cheap smartphones in the market coupled with the advent rise of cloud computing has led to the rise of mobile apps.
The paradigm shift has led to companies and developers thinking about mobile-first. This space keeps growing with the latest technology being the progressive web apps (PWAs) which a user doesn’t need to download and install; instead, you just visit a site and then add it to your home page. The PWA will launch and work just like a mobile app but doesn’t take your phone’s memory space. With a mobile app, you can reach more people considering almost every human on the planet has access to a smartphone.
To host a mobile app depends on the type of app and the platform that you use to host it. With an Android and iOS app, you need to register a developer account and publish your app for users to download and install it on their phones. With both the mobile and web app, you deploy them on a platform as a service (PaaS) or app’s backend on a mobile backend as a service (MBaas) and host it there.
Types of mobile apps
There are 3 types of mobile apps – native, hybrid, and web. The difference between the 3 is how and where they run. A native app is specially designed for a specific operating system. These apps are found either in the Google Play Store or the App Store. You can’t download an app from the App Store on your Android device, and vice versa. Hybrid apps share the same code base and are then deployed differently to the respective app stores as well as a web app. They’re cheap and faster to maintain. The difference between web apps and the rest is that a web app can run on its own, it has to run inside a browser. It can’t be downloaded, you have to go to your browser and type in the website, and then access it. This saves you space that you would have used had you downloaded the app.
How to host them
You can host both a native and a hybrid mobile app by going to either or both Google Play Store and the App Store and opening a developer account. These platforms host the app for you and you get to split the revenue. With a web app, you can open an account with AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, Apple Cloudkit, or any other major hosting provider and deploy your application’s backend. These platforms offer a mobile backend service that ensures that your database and servers are running at all times. You also get other benefits including monitoring and analytics. If you only want the database, then you can get yourself one like Firebase from Google.
It’s worth noting that most apps that run as both native and web apps share the same backend. Therefore, the native application will be dependent on the backend and they communicate using an API (Application Programming Interface).
So, what does it mean by mobile app hosting?
You’ve come up with an idea and then gone ahead to develop a mobile application that meets your user’s needs. It’s on your laptop and you’ve been running it locally all through the development stage. Now it’s time to share it with the world and you’re asking yourself, how do I host this app? A mobile app is useless if it isn’t shared online allowing users to install it on their mobiles and start using it. Apps, in general, are divided into two parts, the frontend, and the backend. The frontend is what the user sees and interacts with while the backend is what keeps the app running and is accessed by the app developer. Mobile apps require hosting due to the following backend processes:
These users need to store their information such as their credentials when signing up and creating accounts. This data has to be stored in a database somewhere. It’s what users will see when they use the app. Here, you store all user information like their e-mail addresses, profile, invoices, number of users, contact details, etc. If your app is an offline standalone app like Tetris which comes without an online leaderboard, then you don’t need hosting. Examples of databases include SQL (MySQL, PostgreSQL) and NoSQL (Mongo).
Now, the database too needs to be stored to ensure consistent availability. This is where a server comes in. A server is like a computer but very powerful. It is designed for providing software and information to the rest of the devices connected to the network. This machine is so powerful that it can handle huge workloads and run many applications simultaneously compared to a computer. Servers offer remote management tools that one can use to diagnose problems and check usage remotely. With these tools, you can do maintenance, change passwords, or add new users.
You can host a personally dedicated server in your home/office, or purchase server space from a server host company like AWS, Microsoft, Google, etc. Since you only a single app, it’s more economical to rent server space and focus on growing your app. You may wonder, why not on my PC? Well, this data as time goes grows as the number of active users increases. Your PC can’t handle this and it’ll lead to increased downtimes and app crashes on the users’ end.
|Issue||Type of app||How to Fix|
|How to host a mobile app||Native and hybrid applications||Sign up for a developer account on either or both Google Play Store and Apple Store then publish your app.|
|Web app & hybrid apps||Sign up with a mobile backend as a service platform and deploy your app’s backend to the platform.|
Hosting a mobile app is not difficult. All you need to find out is what type of app you are planning to host, the number of users that you anticipate to have.
What are some of the app development kits that one can use to develop hybrid apps?
Some of the best app development platforms include Xamarin, React-native, Flutter, and many others depending on the programming language that one uses.
What is the difference between PaaS and MBaas?
PaaS can be used to handle both mobile and web applications while MBaaS is only meant for mobile apps.