Mobile Backend as a Service – A Buyer’s Guide to MBaaS
A relatively new concept, mobile backend as a service, or MBaaS, has risen rapidly over the past few years as app development demand has climbed at an ever-increasing pace. Much in the same way web hosting providers might help customers maintain their website databases, accompanying email services, and more, MBaaS providers help mobile app developers more easily connect and manage the various backend services that keep their apps running.
The pricing model for MBaaS varies, with some solutions scaling 1-to-1 with the number of API calls or active users an app requires each month, and others working in more traditional tiered packages that scale in chunks. At Aquro, we work with both approaches depending on the type of app project you’re working on.
Of course, since the point of an MBaaS provider is to save you time and headaches in managing app services, it’s a good idea make sure you can “try before you buy” with any potential service you might use, and that, at the very least, your MBaaS provider covers these essential basics:
It’s commonplace for apps to need to work with some sort of cloud database in order to keep app content synched for all users, make sure that all data is stored and treated the same, etc.
Your app will need some sort of database, so having it built right into the tool(s) you’re already using is important. Make sure that your MBaaS provider gives you a flexible cloud database service that can connect with the various services and formats you anticipate needing.
There’s virtually no end to studies which show that correctly used push notifications can drastically increase the retention rate of app users. In fact, retention rates are improved even with spammy, annoying push notification strategies (unfortunately).
The bottom line is that your app should absolutely have access to an easy way to write, cue, trigger, and send push notifications. Lucky for you, any mobile backend provider worth their salt will provide this service, so you won’t have to do too much hunting around to get what you need. Note that push notification limits for most MBaaS providers are listed by raw number of notifications sent, so as more users download your app, the number of notifications you can send to them each in a month may quickly decline. For example, if a plan limits you to 1,000 push notifications but you only have 10 app users, you could send each one up to 100 notifications in a month. If the tables turn and you have 100 users, however, you’ll only be able to send each one an average of 10 notifications before needing to pony up for some more backend power!
While more dependent on the type of app you’re building, user management is a common and important MBaaS service as well. Obviously, this functionality becomes essential if your users will create accounts for your app, have usernames when communicating with each other, and so on.
A user management service should let you provide things like:
- User account creation
- User data storage
- User login authentication via a login page/screen in your app
- A password reset service for users who forget their login details (very important!)
Third-party login integrations:
In addition to your own system for creating a user accounts, it’s a good idea to let people choose account creation routes with less friction – they may prefer logging in via Facebook or twitter, for example.
A good MBaaS provider will let you easily use these types of ‘social login’ features with your user handling service, flawlessly adding them to the user database alongside those who created their credentials manually.
To avoid complications or disappointments down the road, it’s in your best interests to find a mobile backend provider who from the beginning can provide a wide range and high quality of services from the beginning, as you never know what functionality you might end up wanting to add later on, or how fast an app might grow!
If you’re currently shopping around for MbaaS providers, we’d love to have you give us a try! We offer all of the above services and more, and backend services come pre-packaged without additional cost when using our app development environment, Aquro Platform.