Choosing the best Mobile App Data Storage option

by psmedia on June 17, 2013 in App Development, Mobile Strategy

App data storage is a key aspect of App development, yet is seldom considered by businesses when planning the development of an iPhone or Android App. Overlooking the way data will be stored and how it will be accessed by the end user can result unforeseen post-development costs. In light of this, it’s imperative that you determine the type of data storage best suited to your App user experience before beginning development.

Below we explore four different models of App data storage: local data storage, local data storage with server update functionality, cloud data storage and Hybrid model

Model 1 : Local Data Storage

Local data storage means that all associated data is hard-coded inside the App. The data is then downloaded in its entirety to the phone by the end user. New information/functionality will require further development of the App itself. To access these updates the user will need to download the new version of the app from the AppStore.

If the App is large in data size, local data storage will negatively impact the user’s phone memory, taking up considerable space on the phone’s internal memory. Hard coding of new data will further increase the size of the App, meaning the user will experience a lengthy download time when updating, and may in time (depending on memory availability) also experience slower performance of the handset.

Therefore, local data storage is best suited to lightweight Apps that won’t require major updates, and where the information within the App will remain static for long periods of time. That said, in a competitive marketplace where there is a constant need to provide increased value to the end user, even if you think at the time of development that you won’t require upgrades and additional functionality, it is likely that you will.

Although the initial App build cost will be relatively low in comparison to Apps with greater functionality and high volume graphic content, recoding an App to incorporate new functionality will be a costly affair, and therefore it would be wise to consider one of the other two options discussed below.

Model 2 : Local Data Storage With Remote Sever Functionality

An evolvement from the basic model of local data storage is to incorporate remote server functionality. In this instance the user is provided with the initial App download – which can be blank of data or require only low-level local phone storage – and the option of acquiring further updates via a server connection. To access the data, the App incorporates a download/upgrade button.

The primary advantage for the developer is that to update data/create a new version, changes can be made on the server, and then downloaded within the App by the user. At Instani we provide our clients with a web-based CMS (Content Management System) where data can be easily changed/added at the touch of a button.

The cost of local data storage incorporating server functionality is of medium budget. However, going forward, the cost of updating the App is much more affordable than the basic local data storage model.

This model is generally applied to Apps where updates will be made on an occasional basis, perhaps 2-3 times per year. For example, we recently developed an App for United Petroleum that allows users to find the location of fuel stations and compare fuel prices. We provided UP with the ability to login to the CMS and change the data accordingly. The App then automatically fetches the data from the server each day, delivering correct location and pricing data to the end user.

Model 3 : Cloud Based Data Storage

Cloud storage is the newest of the three app data storage models, and is considered the most efficient way of storing, accessing and sharing data. Cloud storage is simply the process of storing data on virtual servers, where it can be accessed by anyone with permission. Where an App is concerned, this means the data can be accessed not only thru the App but also via the web and any other desired online media.

From a development point of view the biggest advantage of the cloud data storage model over the two models discussed above is that data changes are immediately visible to the end user. This is because data is stored centrally – ideal for social media sites that leverage a central website thru the app. For example, Facebook App updates are automatically implemented, or offered as an instant notification upgrade to everyone on the network.

From a user perspective, the cloud model is ideal where App users’ data is shared across a network. Think Twitter, where updates are sent by users and immediately delivered to other relevant users, or game Apps where high scores are made immediately visible on a shared leaderboard.

Model 4 : Hybrid

A 4th Model can combine the above mentioned data storage models and create a hybrid data storage strategy for your app.  For example, the App will initially be downloaded with some basic data and then the user will be able to download additional data that is fetched live from a cloud server.

The Hybrid data storage model can be used when you want to decrease download size, make app perform faster, and provide the latest and live data.

At Per Square Media we have built hundreds of apps that interlink with company websites (we also build the websites, too). We help businesses avoid spending money on future development costs by providing an easily manageable App CMS and the most effective data storage solutions.

Drop us a message today and let us help you design the perfect App for your business.

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