Review: Microsoft Azure beats Amazon and Google for mobile development

Easier than Amazon's Mobile SDK and more complete than Google's Firebase, Azure Mobile Services has more of what developers need

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I looked at the generated starter apps on iOS in Swift, which had a compiler error, and Android, which did build once I changed the target version to an SDK I actually had installed. You can easily add back-end storage to an existing app (Figure 9) using the supplied code as a template.

You can monitor your mobile service, your SQL server, and your endpoints (Figure 10), then configure your mobile service to autoscale within the limits of your plan. If you wish, you can add a beta library to your mobile app to help implement offline operation and synchronization between the cloud and the device. A dozen lines of code is all you need, although you’ll require more code if you want to extend the synchronization to present a conflict resolution form to the user. 

Microsoft Azure mobile monitoring fig11

Figure 10. You can monitor everything about your Azure mobile service and even autoscale it within the limits of your service tier.

Frankly, I went into the Azure portion of this review expecting to see overpriced junk left over from the Ballmer era. I was blown away by the thoughtful implementation of mobile services and the respect with which the Azure Mobile Services team has addressed the needs of app developers without imposing on the choice of solution. I wish Microsoft had gone one more step in developing JavaScript clients and added libraries for AngularJS and some of the other popular frameworks, but what it's done already is very, very good. Bravo.

Mo' better MBaaS

As you can see in the scores, I like Microsoft Azure Mobile Services so much that its excellent overall rating puts it into the Editor’s Choice category, edging out AnyPresence as my favorite MBaaS. If your enterprise needs to offer SDKs to business partners, however, I might still recommend AnyPresence.

Although I like Firebase’s low-latency performance, easy API, and fine support of JavaScript frameworks, it doesn’t cover many of the bases I expect from a mobile back end, especially enterprise integrations. While Amazon Cognito and Amazon Mobile Services do almost everything I want for a mobile back end, they are not my idea of easy to learn or easy to use.

At a Glance

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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