How to create a server accessible by an app

Have you ever wondered how information gets to the applications installed on your mobile device? How are they updated? How can you sync a mobile app server with your account in the web/desktop app? We know, we know, end users only care about enjoying the app, but as engineers, we also care about the “nuts and bolts” of apps. For example, the methods used to connect the mobile parts of an application to the server, transferring data bi-directionally from the back-end server for mobile applications. With the introduction of high-speed data transmission channels such as WiFi 6 (802.11ax) with maximum connection speeds of 600-9608 Mbps and high-speed 4G mobile networks with transmission speeds of up to 100 Mbps, we are gaining great opportunities for access information systems from a mobile device. Now, with the introduction of the new 5G standard, data rates will increase. It is also worth noting that the percentage of mobile devices used to access information systems is increasing every year compared to desktop devices. And as you may have guessed, this means that the amount of mobile traffic has already surpassed that of desktop systems.

So, what are the communication options between your mobile device and remote storage on a mobile app? server? In fact, there are several ways to do this. Here are several options to choose from based on your business goals with different requirements for mobile app back-end hosting.

1. Direct TCP/IP Connection

Here, the mobile app connects directly to the server’s database to get responses. To ensure confidentiality, you can use SSH or another type of encryption. In this case, a mobile application uses TCP/IP (or UDP if necessary) sockets connected to the server. In fact, this is the most flexible and advanced solution to connect to Android and iOS application server.

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Features:

  • Direct connection using standard TCP/IP telnet/SSH;
  • User verification via simple login/password;
  • User interface commands converted to server commands.
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Advantages:

  • Simple;
  • Average costs to develop the back-end of the applications;
  • No additional maintenance costs for additional hardware.

Disadvantages:

  • Complicated scalability;
  • Some TCP/IP ports may be closed or disabled, causing the mobile app to stop working;
  • Just a functionality for the standard telnet/SSH protocol.

See the iOS and Android documentation for more details on programming TCP/IP sockets. Also, you can find iOS and Android client server communication examples.

2. Responsively designed web application

Mobile applications can be built as responsively designed web applications and can use different frameworks such as Electron and NW.js.

Features:

  • Use of web services via specialized APIs;
  • User verification via simple/secure login/password as in desktop web app ;
  • UI commands converted to API requests.

Advantages:

  • API REST;
  • Easy client-side development;
  • Ability to use external resources (servers, databases) with connection from the server-side;
  • No additional costs maintenance of additional hardware in the back-end;
  • The back-end can be placed on a cloud server or a dedicated server;
  • Easily scalable with technologies in the cloud.

Disadvantages:

  • One cycle more complex development;
  • In some cases, it can be comparatively slow due to HTML/JS user interface, for example 2d and 3d Graphics.

* Note : Requires the development of the back-end web application (including the back-end server for mobile applications) and API services. Consult the Electron and NW.JS documentation for web application development.

3. Cloud Integration

With cloud integration, you can connect your mobile app to the back-end very easily. Thanks to modern cloud systems like Firebase or Amazon API Gateway, you can create a scalable, reliable, and secure back-end for any type of mobile application. This solution will also be cost effective for any number of mobile users. Read this article if you need to figure out how to connect to a server on Android with Firebase. You can also refer to this article for help connecting iOS apps to the cloud.

Features:

  • Connect to the cloud by leveraging su (API);
  • User verification via simple/secure login/password;
  • Easy API scalability, up or down;
  • API version;
  • User interface commands converted to cloud API commands.

Advantages:

  • REST API;
  • Easy client-side development;
  • Ability to use external resources (servers, databases) with cloud services;
  • Access all cloud services;
  • Get access to all cloud computers according to user permissions;
  • Highly scalable;
  • Extremely reliable and robust.

Disadvantages:

  • It takes a long time to set up;
  • It is not easy to change cloud provider if necessary;
  • Back-end developers must be qualified;

For more information, see the Firebase and Amazon API Gateway documentation for cloud integration. Cloud systems are the most effective way to minimize server cost for mobile applications.

4. GraphQL

GraphQL provides a new approach to API development. It can be compared and contrasted with REST and other web services architectures. GraphQL allows you to define the structure of the necessary project data. The server will return the same structure without the need to change the API, avoiding redundant data transfer. GraphQL is a simple and efficient way to create an application that communicates with a remote server.

Features:

  • Send and receive new data without changing the API structure;
  • GraphQL servers are available in about 10 programming languages.

Advantages:

  • GraphQL supports reading and writing (modifying) data;
  • Ability to subscribe to updated data changes in real time.

Disadvantages:

  • Must study relatively new technology;
  • Reduced effectiveness of web caching of query results.</li

Please see the GraphQL Documentation for GraphQL integration.

Shh, don’t tell anyone, but we just told you one of the best kept secrets of where information is stored on your smartphone or tablet! There are no cables, no intermediaries and, of course, no owl. It all comes down to high tech. If you need to build a server for a mobile application, contact Svitla Systems experts for high-quality and reliable services.

As global IT experts and statistics report, the mobile industry is booming and promises to continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. There are still many open challenges and a lot of room for growth in mobile app development and effective back-end hosting of mobile apps, including in the areas of storage and security, but hopefully IT experts will continue to surprise us with something. new 🙂

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