Before I get into the details of the announcement on Offline Sync, let me take a moment for a quick introduction to Azure Mobile Services, as I don’t believe we have blogged on Mobile Services yet.
With Azure Mobile Services, it’s easy to rapidly build engaging cross-platform and native apps for iOS, Android, Windows or Mac, store app data in the cloud or on-premises, authenticate users, send push notifications, as well as add your custom backend logic in C# or Node.js.
With Azure Mobile Services, you can easily authenticate your users with Active Directory, securely connect to on-premises resources like SAP, Oracle, SQL Server, and SharePoint, and leverage cross-platform frameworks like Xamarin and PhoneGap to build enterprise-grade apps.
Azure enables you to build mobile apps that can consume data from your own data center. With Hybrid Connections it is easy to access your data securely from your on-premises data centers, anywhere in the world.
Notification Hubs is a massively scalable mobile push notification engine capable of sending millions of push notifications to iOS, Android, Windows, or Nokia X devices within seconds. You can easily hook Notification Hubs into any existing app backend, whether that backend is hosted on-premises or in Azure.
Azure Mobile Services makes configuring user authentication via Facebook, Google, Microsoft, or Twitter accounts as simple as a few clicks. Once users authenticate, not only can you personalize their experience based on social APIs, but also increase engagement and sharing.
Easily configure built-in auto scale for both Azure Mobile Services and Notification Hubs to match your app needs. With auto scale you can spin up/down resources based actual usage and pay only what you need. With access to the global network of Microsoft managed data centers, allowing you to reach users anywhere in the world.
Yesterday, Microsoft announced the general availability for Offline Data Sync. Offline Sync allows you to create robust apps that remain useful when there are network issues, so users can create and modify data even when they are offline. Improve app responsiveness by caching server data locally on the device. With Azure Mobile Services you can easily provide a native sync experience across your iOS, Android, and Windows apps.
This feature has been in preview for quite some time. Our consultants at Perficient were really excited about this announcement. There are a bunch of use cases where Offline Sync is required. One example is a mobile app we built for a construction company. At remote job sites, a good internet connection is hard to come by. Being able to work offline, then sync your data back to the cloud whenever you get a connection, is huge!
Offline sync has a number of benefits:
- Improve app responsiveness by caching server data locally on the device
- Create robust apps that remain useful when there are network issues
- Allow end-users to create and modify data even when there is no network access, supporting scenarios with little or no connectivity
- Sync data across multiple devices and detect conflicts when the same record is modified by two devices
- Limit network use for customers who don’t have an unlimited data plan
When your app is in offline mode, users can still create and modify data, which will be saved to a local store. When the app is back online, it can synchronize local changes with the Mobile Services backend. The feature also includes support for detecting conflicts when the same record is changed on both the client and the backend. Conflicts can then be handled either on the server or the client.
For more information on Azure Mobile Services or Offline Sync, contact us at Perficient, and one of our certified consultants can help design, develop, and implement your custom mobile solution!