Do mobile apps need hosting?
Some mobile apps will need hosting while others do not require any kind of hosting. In today’s insight, we are going to understand what kind of mobile apps need hosting and the kind of hosting is available.
Mobile applications are built differently, some apps like Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, and many others require access to data from a server.
Such apps are dependent on this data that they cannot function without it, these apps cannot work in the absence of an active internet connection.
Any application that needs user authentication, sharing of data, and accessing user-generated content will need hosting.
It is worth noting that the front-facing side of a mobile app does not need any kind of hosting, it is the backend that needs hosting.
The Frontend side and the backend side of a mobile app are separate entities and are built using separate technologies.
You can use React Native (React and JSX), Ionic (HTML, CSS, JS), Android Studio (Kotlin, Java), Flutter (Dart), Xcode (Swift), and Xamarin (C#) to work on the front-end.
For the backend, you can use any server-side programming language of your choice.
Backend frameworks and programming languages such as Node, Django, Ruby on Rails, Python, Php, and FastAPI, are commonly used.
For Databases, there are a number of choices from NoSQL databases like MongoDB to relational databases like PostgreSQL, and MySQL.
There are third-party APIs available to extend the functionality of your app, ranging from Payment gateways, authentication, weather, movies, graphs, finance, etc.
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WHAT KIND OF MOBILE APPS NEED HOSTING?
Any kind of app that has a backend infrastructure will need hosting. As long as your app will have to access some data on the server somewhere, hosting will be required.
Some mobile games also need hosting for such features as Leaderboards, Saving progress, saving user data online, and more.
MOBILE HOSTING SERVICES
Hosting is one of the factors that make developing mobile applications expensive. You have a variety of hosting options, some of them expensive and others inexpensive.
If you do not want to spend a lot on building a mobile app, you can learn more in our article How to Make a Mobile App on a Small Budget.
Let us look at some of the options available for hosting the mobile app’s backend infrastructure;
Shared Hosting is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of hosting your backend, especially for smaller applications.
To make it simpler, you can install WordPress on your shared hosting account and use it as a Headless Content Management system for your app.
You can install WooCommerce on your WordPress backend and make an E-commerce store. Through the WordPress API, you can connect your mobile app to the store.
There are many companies providing shared hosting such as Bluehost, Inmotion, Hostinger, Namecheap, Hostgator, etc.
DEDICATED SERVER HOSTING
You will get more resources on dedicated server hosting than on shared hosting, this will help you build a backend that can serve a lot of users.
With a dedicated server, you will have more freedom and control, you will have root access to the server, which allows building your app from the ground.
Companies such as Bluehost, Inmotion, Hostinger, etc. provide dedicated hosting at a monthly or yearly fee.
Virtual Private Servers are servers partitioned into multiple “virtual” servers. You will need system administrators to work on the servers.
A VPS offers flexibility, security, and full control over your hosting environment. You can get VPS hosting from companies such as LiquidWeb, Bluehost, Inmotion, Hostinger, Namecheap, etc.
Cloud hosting is one of the best approaches to hosting a mobile app backend, it is easy to scale and you only pay for the resources used.
Cloud hosting companies offer great server security, this will help you protect sensitive data.
Companies offering cloud hosting include Linode, Google (Google Cloud Platform), Amazon (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and IBM Cloud Services just to mention a few.
Google’s Firebase takes a different approach, it is a Backend as a Service. It makes developing the backend for mobile apps very easy.
Firebase takes care of most of the heavy lifting for you, it comes with authentication, File storage, analytics, real-time database, cloud functions, machine learning, and more.
You can start small on firebase and scale depending on how your app is growing. Firebase was developed with a focus on web and mobile app developers.
YOUR OWN SERVERS
Preferably, you can buy your own servers and do your own configurations, this works best for large-scale applications.
You will have more control of your infrastructure if you have your own servers. However, this is very expensive to procure, set up, and maintain.
You can use third-party APIs to add more functionality to mobile apps. Some APIs are free while others are to be paid for.
For example, if you want to develop an app that lists science fiction movies, you can use the IMDB API to get the movies from their database and display them in your app.
APIs are helpful to get your app up and running quickly without writing the backend or setting up hosting.
There are a lot of APIs available for nearly every task, if you can’t find an API you need, you can create one and monetize it.
WHAT KIND OF APPS DO NOT NEED HOSTING?
There are some mobile apps that do not need hosting, everything that these apps need to function properly is added during development.
Once the app is published to a distribution platform, no new data will be added until the next update.
This is a common approach for some mobile games, most mobile games are built to work offline without problems.
Most apps used for photo editing, playing music, calculations, Sound recording, and gaming may not need hosting in any way and work perfectly fine offline.
I developed an app Fellowship Hymns that is used by some Baptist churches in my country. This app has no need for hosting, yet it serves its purpose.
All the hymns were added during development, it has no backend infrastructure and all of it is built purely from frontend technologies.
It can be seen that not all mobile apps need hosting, some apps are built to work offline without any access to external data.
However, most of the useful applications in our time need access to data. A backend infrastructure is needed if the app is to be used by the masses.
You can look at our article Practical Guide to Mobile App Development to learn more about building mobile applications.