A database is the storehouse of data consisting of multiple tables, rows, and columns. Different fields in the database are assigned with specific information. Businesses and dynamic websites often use a database management system (DBMS) to manage multiple databases.
A DBMS is a platform that helps developers integrate, organize, update, and control large databases. Statista’s topmost database management system in 2021 is Oracle, with a rank score of 1270.94.
In mobile app development, choosing the exact database is critical to handle frequent updates, complex queries, and store data offline. Mobile app developers are often astounded by the varied number of database choices in front of them. Therefore, this blog will work as a guide for you when it comes to picking the right database for developing or updating a mobile app.
The need for databases
A database can store enormous amounts of data that can aid in easy data retrieval whenever needed. Besides helping to access information, modern relational databases can let users update information in the database based on several pieces of information stored in different tables. A relational database is also capable of executing queries from multiple databases.
Here is the significance of a database:
1. A database protects the stored data via user logins and multiple other ways.
2. Database update is made possible via various Data Manipulation Languages.
3. A database stores data accurately via various in-built checks and restrictions.
Top 12 databases for mobile app development
Whether you plan to build a cross-platform mobile app or simply want to update the features of an existing mobile app, you can take the help of the following mobile app databases.
An open-source object-relational DBMS, PostgreSQL has a good reputation over 30 years for its power-packed performance. Consisting of advanced features, PostgreSQL is used in the active development of mobile apps. Below are the key highlights of PostgreSQL.
Key Highlights of PostgreSQL:
1. PostgreSQL is enabled with cross-platform compatibility, including Linux, UNIX, Windows, and macOS X.
2. This is a free and open-source database easily accessible from its official website.
3. With PostgreSQL mailing lists, you can interact with its active and helpful community.
4. You can conveniently access JSON and also find support for noncontagious data ranges.
5. It is compatible with an extensive range of programming languages like Java, C/C++, Python, Ruby, Perl, and even Open Database Connectivity.
This is a prominent open-source, free-to-use, relational database management system which offers multi-purpose utility and thus can be used in eCommerce, data warehousing, and mobile application building. Following are the robust features of MySQL.
Key Highlights of MySQL:
1. First and foremost, it offers usage convenience to developers who can write basic SQL queries to interact with the database.
2. Offers data security and supports secure transactional processing.
3. With its ability to attain unmatched scalability, MySQL helps the management of deeply embedded apps.
4. MySQL provides round-the-clock uptime.
5. MySQL uses server/client functional architecture.
Specializing as a server-side database, MongoDB is a relational database designed to support large and complex applications of modern times. Its pricing is solely dependent on the type of cloud deployment used—MongoDB powers global organizations like Google, Verizon, Squarespace, etc.
Key Highlights of MongoDB:
1. This is an application data platform that can address diverse data sets and adapt extensively to any modifications.
2. MongoDB’s document data model offers support for JSON.
3. MongoDB’s query language is simple to use.
4. It also offers in-built functionalities like automatic failover, horizontal scalability, and data assignment to a specific location.
5. MongoDB is fully managed with unified API solutions and transparent data movement.
6. It offers transactional, search, mobile, and real-time analytics workloads on any cloud.
As a React Native developer, if you wish to work on a cross-platform mobile app development project, then Firebase is one of the best choices in this regard. Here are some of the exquisite features of Firebase:
Key Highlights of Firebase:
1. Firebase offers support for real-time NoSQL database for React Native apps.
2. Minimum setup requirements are needed for its cross-platform API.
3. Data-synchronization and offline data modification are a breeze with Firebase.
4. It offers 1 GB of free data storage, beyond which a subscription to a basic plan is needed at $25/month.
5. Cloud-based data storage
With the integration between Google and Firebase Platform, this scalable cloud-based database can be used to develop servers, mobile apps, and even browsers. With this adaptable database, you can build various client apps through listeners.
Key Highlights of Cloud-based database:
1. With this, you can build responsive apps.
2. It is optimized for native and cloud apps and can be used for mobile apps, leaderboards, and social network apps.
3. Cloud-based data storage offers offline support for mobile and web apps.
6. Amazon DynamoDB
DynamoDB offers 25 GB free of cost per month. It is a fully managed NoSQL server-side database specifically designed to run on the Amazon Web Services cloud platform.
Key Highlights of Amazon DynamoDB:
1. It is decentralized and requires less administration compared to other database management systems.
2. Its scalability is unbound. It can handle 10 trillion requests per day.
3. It also provides fast and superior performance.
4. DynamoDB offers encryption at rest, thus making it easy to protect sensitive data.
5. With DynamoDb, developers can use AWS Management Console to track performance metrics and resource utilization.
SQLite is a C-language library that was initially created to provide local storage databases for mobile apps. Over 1 trillion active users rely on SQLite databases. SQLite’s source code is built in the public domain and is natively available on smartphones and computers.
Key Highlights of SQLite:
1. It is a lightweight, easy-to-setup database and a fast, reliable, fully-featured, self-contained SQL database engine.
2. It offers cross-platform support.
3. SQLite database files are used to transfer rich content between systems.
Another NoSQL cloud database, Couchbase, has won many accolades for providing excellent performance and scalability. It is regarded as the modern database for enterprise apps. With Couchbase, developers can efficiently perform cloud, distributed cloud, virtual private cloud, hybrid, and edge computing deployments.
Key Highlights of Couchbase:
1. Couchbase is cheap.
2. It is enabled with extraordinary capability to run elastic, distributed, and in-memory databases.
3. With Couchbase, developers can rapidly create applications using various tools, SDKs, and several tutorials.
4. It offers Kubernetes-based cloud-to-edge management.
Apache CouchDB is a clustered database that provides the provision to run a single logical database server on multiple servers. Built for reliability, CouchDB can seamlessly offer multi-master sync. It helps scale everything from Big Data to mobile with intuitive HTTP/JSON API. Here are some of its splendid features.
Key Highlights of CouchDB:
1. It is considered ideal for web-based and native applications because of its ability to speak JSON natively.
2. It supports binary data for data storage needs.
3. The Couch Replication Protocol permits seamless data flow from server clusters to smartphones and web browsers.
4. It uses a developer-friendly query language along with MapReduce for data retrieval purposes.
This is an open-source database originally created by MySQL developers. MariaDB is often defaulted in Linux distributions and is an integral part of cloud offerings. Few of its prestigious sponsors include Microsoft, Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud, etc. Some of its noteworthy features are highlighted below.
Key Highlights of MariaDB:
1. It is compatible with Oracle Database and Temporal Data Tables.
2. It also offers advanced clustering with Galera Cluster 4.
3. MariaDB has a thriving community.
11. Apache Cassandra
Apache Cassandra is an open-source NoSQL distributed database known for scalability and accessibility. Cassandra can quickly manage vast amounts of data without hassles.
Key Highlights of Apache Cassandra:
1. It offers linear scalability with fault-tolerance ability on commodity hardware or cloud infrastructure.
2. Cassandra has masterless architecture and low latency, thus enabling it to withstand data centre outages without data loss.
3. An audit logging feature of Cassandra allows tracking DML, DDL, and DCL activity.
4. Developers can choose between synchronous or asynchronous replication while making updates.
Realm is a local, open-source mobile database for offline and real-time mobile apps. Realm offers a free trial for one month, after which it costs $25 per month. Below are the valuable features of Realm.
Key Highlights of Realm:
1. It is an object-oriented database instead of a relational database.
2. Built atop SQLite with its own database engine, Realm is not developed with an object-relational mapping.
3. It offers cross-platform compatibility.
4. It offers a developer-friendly alternative to CoreData & SQLite.
Tips for choosing the right database for mobile apps:
So, the above points provided an in-depth look at the twelve best databases for mobile app development. Now, if you are wondering how to choose the correct database from the plethora of options available, here are some guidelines regarding the same.
1. Data Structure
Data structure refers to how you want to store and retrieve your data. This is essential because mobile apps store data in different forms. Online apps need to access a server to retrieve data, whereas offline apps need to access the smartphone’s local storage to store data.
On the other hand, synchronized apps store data on smartphones, but the stored data is updated on the server whenever the device connects to the internet. Thus, these apps can be used online as well as offline.
2. Data Size
The size of data points to the actual quantity of information that would be stored and retrieved by the app. When selecting a database, it is crucial that you select a database that can support the amount of data your mobile application would be dealing with at the peak of its usage.
The quantity and size of data can vary as per the data structure chosen. It is also influenced by how the database differentiates data across multiple servers and file systems.
3. Speed & Scale
If you need speed and scalability, then you need to go for databases that can handle the I/O needs of the app. Scaling is essential to address the time required to handle incoming read and write functions to your mobile application.
While some databases can handle read-heavy apps, others can support write-heavy solutions. On the other hand, other databases handle massive amounts of unstructured data, while others can better tackle structured data.
4. Data Security
Databases are often prone to hacking and malware attacks. They need to be protected with address authentication, data at rest and in motion, and read/write access to keep them secure. This is the case, especially when dealing with synchronized and decentralized storage.
For data at rest on the server and client-side, it is essential to have encryption for the level of both file systems as well as at data. For data in motion, it is required to have communication via a secure channel like SSL or TLS. For data read/write access, the database should be capable of offering granular control over the data. Sometimes many apps also need support for anonymous access.
5. Data Modeling
Data modeling plays a vital role if your app needs to have features like search queries, reporting, location support. These apps often need to interact with multiple databases for accessing different types of data. Performing data modeling can help understand the data structures which would be stored in the database.
6. Cross-platform support
Whether you want to build a mobile app for iOS or Android, you need to choose the mobile app platform too accordingly. If cross-platform support is a desirable feature for your app, then going with the React Native framework is the best option.
You can select any database from the above-given twelve best databases for Android Or iOS mobile app development as per your requirement. If the app needs constant reads and writes, then CouchDB would be ideal for you, or if you are going to be dealing with a lot of unstructured data, then MongoDB can come in as the best database. So, you can refer to the latter part of the article to help you decide on the choice of database.