The Mobile App Trends Series is sponsored by Sourcebits, a leading product developer for mobile platforms. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iOS, Android, Mobile and Web platforms. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter for recent news and updates.

For mobile app developers, building an app rarely takes place in a vacuum, as most users expect their apps to interface and work with various Internet services.

Building a mobile app increasingly means building an app that can interface with its own server or set of network services.

For mobile app developers, picking and choosing a server or cloud solution for things like storage, push notifications, user information and analytics can be a struggle.

Fortunately, a new wave of companies and services are stepping in to help developers make the best choices.


Yay Cloud


With AWS, Amazon has really led the way toward making cloud services and distributed computing and storage solutions affordable and easily accessible.

Thousands upon thousands of application developers — mobile, web and desktop — use Amazon for storage, to run processes and to store or query data.

Amazon and its competitors have APIs and toolkits designed to make integrating their services with an existing app backend a snap.

AWS SDK — Amazon offers an AWS SDK for Android and an AWS SDK for iOS. These SDKs offer libraries, code samples and documentation to help app developers leverage Amazon’s AWS services, including EC2, S3 and Amazon SimpleDB within their own apps.

Windows Azure — Microsoft is pushing its Windows Azure cloud as mobile-dev friendly. The company has released official SDKs and APIs for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Google offers Android developers the ability to link their apps to Google App Engine, using the Google Plugin for Eclipse.


Cloud Backend Solutions


In addition to self-selecting cloud services from various providers, a number of startup platforms offer easy access to a variety of cloud services and backends, but without a lot of overhead hassle.

This space is often called Backend as a Service [BaaS] or Platform as a Service [PaaS] and it is heating up fast.

Most of these companies will work directly with the major cloud providers, like Amazon, RackSpace and Windows Azure, but will abstract the process so the developer doesn’t need to mess with a lot of settings, accounts or configurations.

Some of the players in this space include:

Parse — Parse recently closed its Series A funding round and is used by Band of the Day, Hipmunk and Yobongo. It works with iOS and Android and can connect with Heroku. You can also use Parse in cross-platform apps like Appcelerator and Sencha.

StackMob — StackMob is currently in private beta and has an SDK for iOS, Android, Java and custom server side code. Like Parse, StackMob can integrate with Heroku. It also offers server-side integration with Facebook and Twitter.

Kinvey — Kinvey was one of the earliest players in the space and it dubs its solution, Backend as a Service. Kinvey uses AWS, RackSpace Cloud and Windows Azure to offer up its backend tools, along with its own APIs that developers can drop into their own apps.

CloudMine — Cloudmine supports Ruby, Python, PHP and Java.

Buddy Platform — Buddy Platform is kind of a hybrid between developer platforms like Appcelerator and backend platforms. It has APIs for access to features like user management, geo-location data, photos and album information and user messaging.


Your Tips


Have you used off-the-shelf or infrastructure as a service tools in your mobile app? What should developers watch for? Let us know.


Series Supported by Sourcebits


The Mobile App Trends Series is sponsored by Sourcebits, a leading developer of applications and games for all major mobile platforms. Sourcebits has engineered over 200 apps to date, with plenty more to come. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iPhone, Android and more. Please feel free to get in touch with us to find out how we can help your app stand apart in a crowded marketplace. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter and Facebook for recent news and updates.

Image courtesy of Flickr, KEXINO

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Amazon Web Services has launched a new service called Elastic Beanstalk, which helps developers simplify the management of their applications in the cloud.

The service, launched in beta, is primarily aimed at developers who either can’t or don’t want to manage every little detail about the deployment of their app in the cloud, such as load balancing, auto scaling and health monitoring. However, Elastic Beanstalk lets developers keep full control over the AWS resources powering their app, if they choose to handle it themselves.

“This is for customers building applications that may not have the technical depth to manage the underlying compute infrastructure. Beanstalk is completely black-boxed,” says the vice president of web services at Amazon, Adam Selipsky.

The initial release of Elastic Beanstalk supports Java, using the Apache Tomcat software stack, but Amazon claims the service is designed “so that it can be extended to support multiple development stacks and programming languages in the future.”

Elastic Beanstalk is free for AWS customers, who only need to pay for the resources needed to run their applications.

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