What is The Cloud, and what can it do for your mobile app?
…When we’re told to store our data “in the cloud” for easier access, it sounds like that data is floating around just above our heads, waiting for us to reach up and grab it.
…“The cloud” is essentially a server or group of servers sitting in a room, typically a huge concrete building with lots of blinking lights and fans, waiting to serve data to those who request it.
…This is especially useful when dealing with mobile apps, where the devices aren’t always capable of doing complex operations in a timely manner. Rather than running expensive operations directly from a mobile app, those operations are offloaded to the cloud, and the app waits for the data to come back down.
It also allows you to cache and aggregate user data, and use that information to improve the performance or user-experience of your mobile app. Showing a user products similar to the ones they have bought recently, or finding what else they might be interested in based on what others have bought are great examples of this.
…They can pick up their app on their phone, tablet, computer, or even a smart watch, and the app looks and feels exactly how they want it to, without having to repeatedly change the app to their preferences.
…This can be worked around with careful engineering of the app to store things offline, and send them up when the user has a connection again.
…However, in the right scenario, cloud services can be great for you and your users.