Choosing A Database For Your Mobile Apps

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The number of people that use mobile phones as their source of information is tremendous, and many depend heavily on apps downloaded to their mobile devices. The apps have to be informative, easy to understand, fast, give honest and reliable information and most of all, be user-friendly. An app that does not meet the above requirements is often useless to users, and few will waste time on it.

As a mobile app developer, you have to be very keen and aware of what is trending in the programming world. Getting the right info and the correct databases for your app are crucial if you want the app to get clicks and views. If you are not well versed with what is happening in, for example, Couchbase, Microsoft, Amazon and Google, hire an expert from to explain why these four are among the best app providers for both online and offline mobile apps.

There are many choices of database on the market for your mobile app development. When evaluating what to choose for your mobile app, take the following factors into consideration:

1. The Kind of Platforms Supported

Before embarking on developing any mobile apps, the most important thing to take into consideration is the client's platform to be supported by the app. While a large majority of people use Android and IOS, there are many that do not. Also, check to see if you will go beyond these to other systems, like smart watches, or IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as Amazon's Alexa, embedded systems and other wearables.

You also need to find out if your databases will support desktops and laptops. Today, many applications start off as a mobile app before extending to desktops. Evaluate your databases and their cloud options in accordance with the platform you are creating the app for, to avoid any mishaps. When you are sure of your client’s niche, you can even hire other mobile app creators to build whatever apps are needed.

2. Data Model Flexibility

If you need to articulate the model requirements for your apps appropriately and efficiently, then use proper data modelling flexibility. A lot of your database creation depends on this. The future of the app depends on how flexible your data model is. Mobile apps evolve at very fast rates, and your model must be flexible enough to cope with and accommodate all the evolvements.

If data is consistent and relational, relational databases are a good choice. However, any change to the data requires systems that offer greater data flexibility, like NoSQL databases.

3. Data-In-Motion and Data-At-Rest Security

Whatever kind or method of data storage you use, your data must be secure at all times. Accessing and transmission of this information should also be easy while secure.

Most database storage is either decentralized or synchronized. There should be flexibility and clear authentication that allows all kinds of providers whether public, standard or custom authentication providers. Your apps should support anonymous access.

Data-at-rest should support data level encryptions and file system encryptions, while for data-in-motion, every communication should take place in a very secure channel like TLS or SSL. When you are dealing with data access for read/write, make sure granular control over the data is easily accessible and users can easily modify it.

4. Resolving Data Conflicts

It is very easy to create data conflicts on mobile platforms, and many other platforms that use decentralized data writes. This is because this same data can easily go through modification on several other devices, thus creating a conflict. You need to have a strong system that can resolve any conflicts that arise. The resolution you choose must allow automatic resolution of databases either in the cloud, or on the device. It is the same for resolutions by either humans or external systems.

Handling the conflicts differs from system to system. If you take Couchbase Mobile from Couchbase for example, its resolution rule is “most active branch wins” as the default because it uses revision trees. Git uses the same approach but with a slightly different default; “most recent change wins”.

Compared to Couchbase, Git is more problematic because it is clock based and there are clock differences across various devices. Couchbase allows customization, which is a more sophisticated conflict resolution.

5. At the right time

Synchronizing the systems is very important when you are choosing a database for mobile apps. Syncing and conflict resolution go hand in hand. Controlling how your systems synchronize includes replications. These replications are strategy, conditional and filtering. Replication strategy requires streaming support, pooling support, continuous support, one-time support and push support. The ability to use all these strategies combined would be an added advantage. Conditional replication of data takes place only in certain conditions, such as when your device's power supply is sufficient or when the device is on Wi-Fi. Filtering replication only allows some data to replicate, while leaving others out.

6. With the correct partitions

To meet all your partition requirements, you need configurable sync topology. This is the ability to configure all your systems, while at the same time allowing offline operation of some parts. Star topology has every device connected to a centrally located hub by using connections that allow offline operation of the devices. Other topologies are mesh and tree, which allow the offline operation of different parts of the system. The last is cloudless topology where peers communicate directly while synchronizing data.

A good example of a tree topology is a POS (Point of Sale), which require a brick and mortar store for them to continue operating, in case there is a disconnection from the other parts of the system. In this case, point of sale devices sync with store level databases enabling them to synchronize with a larger, global system. This allows stores to continue with their operation of synchronizing data with their POS devices, without any consideration to their connectivity to the larger system.

7. Build sync or buy?

There are two ways to get sync for your applications. Either you can buy it from a provider or you can use your ingenuity and build your own sync solution. Of the two, the latter is more challenging as it requires extra costs, and is extremely complex due to the distributed computing that comes with the sync. The best option is to leave data synchronization to an expert stack and instead focus on the other features of your app. If you still decide you want to build the sync, be aware that you will spend quite a large amount of time and resources before it finally works. However, the most important thing is to choose a solution that is most flexible with you.

Once again, whatever method you go with, make sure it is flexible, secure, manageable and can work well with or without a connection to the internet.


It takes quite a lot to choose the best database for your mobile apps. You will spend both time and money in order to keep up with the evolving world of mobile apps. They need to be trendy and informative. If you provide anything less than the best on the market, your app will just not have anyone opening it. So to get a highly rated and ranked mobile app, choose your database wisely.

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Posted 14 November, 2017


Designer // Writer // Creative

Tom is a Design Correspondent for He is currently based in Melbourne and spends most of his non-work moments trying to find the best coffee.

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