Among the many announcements made at the re:Invent conference last week by Amazon Web Services Inc. was a preview for its new mobile hub that allows you to build, test, and monitor mobile apps that use Amazon cloud services.
Basically, with the AWS Mobile Hub, now in beta, AWS is catching up to competitors in the Mobile-Back-End-as-a-Service (MBaaS) arena. The AWS mobile hub preview is available more than three years after Microsoft launched Windows Azure Mobile Services. Google Cloud Platform, however, has discontinued the Mobile Backend Starter app and pointed developers to Google Cloud Endpoints. This service became available in November 2013. AWS customers used to be able to get MBaaS functionality via third-party services like Kony.
MBaaS (or sometimes BaaS), solutions simplify the configuration and plumbing needed to hook mobile (or Web-) apps into server database. They also typically provide via APIs additional services such as push notifications, business logic user management, and social service integration.
The AWS Mobile Hub offers these services, as well as content delivery and analytics. All of this can be managed from one integrated console.
AWS’s blog states that “The AWS Mobile hub helps you at every stage of app development: building, testing, configuring, and usage monitoring.” The console is feature-oriented. Instead of selecting individual services, you can select higher-level features that combine several services, SDKs and client codes. It takes only 10 minutes to configure and properly choose services that used to take a full day.
Jeff Barr, a spokesperson for the hub, said that it guides developers through a five-step process. These include setup, compile and run, discover; develop; and troubleshoot. AWS services can be selected by developers of Android or iOS apps. The project can then be created and provisioned automatically for the app. You can then download a working “quickstart” app for further IDE-based programming in Objective-C (iOS), or Java (Android). It includes SDKs, libraries, initialization code, and examples of how to use services requested by the developer.
After coding, coders have the option to test their apps on AWS Device Farm. This facility was added in July, with iOS testing.
Finally, Amazon Mobile Analytics, which is available after deployment, can be used to track metrics such as app usage and revenue, and the number of returning and new users.
The mobile hub is free and does not incur additional charges for the AWS services.