Amazon Web Services debuts mobile app dev tools

AWS announced a bevy of new mobile-focused services at its 2014 Summit in New York City in a clear bid to keep mobile developers happy and using the AWS platform.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor
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The build up to Amazon Web Services 2014 Summit in New York City was all about mobile, with expectations that the cloud favorite would showcase its highly anticipated mobile app development infrastructure. 

Those expectations proved true as Amazon CTO Werner Vogels delivered the summit's keynote address. Following a slew of AWS customer success stories, Vogels began his segue into mobile. 

"Building mobile first apps means that you have to have a solid idea of the customer, you have to build engaging apps, and you have to measure relentlessly if you want to build better apps for your customers," he said. "But measuring on a mobile device is not easy."

With that, Vogels turned the stage over to Marco Argenti, the VP of AWS Mobile, to introduce the company's new fleet of mobile services.

Argenti began the mobile showcase with Amazon Cognito, a new service focused on user identity and data synchronization to help developers securely manage and synchronize app data across devices. The key with Cognito is that it can help developers build apps that deliver a consistent experience regardless of the device being used.   

Next Argenti announced the release of Amazon Mobile Analytics, a service that will enable developers to collect and analyze app usage data, while also delivering usage reports within an hour of data being sent by the app.

Also on the docket are new updates to Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), which Argenti said allows developers to send notifications to Apple iOS, Google Android, and Kindle Fire devices. 

And of course AWS wants to make those services more accessible for developers, so it introduced a new unified Mobile Software Development Kit (SDK) for iOS, Android, and Fire OS developers.

"Building mobile first apps means that you have to have a solid idea of the customer, you have to build an engaging apps, and you have to measure relentlessly if you want to build better apps for your customers."

Argenti summarized the new services as "a comprehensive set of mobile services aimed at improving mobile apps by letting designers and developers access AWS resources across multiple devices." 

Looking at the bigger picture, the whole set of mobile services is AWS's answer to Facebook's Parse and Microsoft Azure Mobile Services. Although AWS has been a long-time favorite among developers, there was mounting pressure on the cloud infrastructure giant to step up its mobile game and make mobile-first applications a priority instead of an afterthought. 

Capping off announcements in the AWS keynote was one announding the launch of Amazon Zocalo, a fully managed, secure enterprise storage and sharing service with administrative controls and feedback capabilities.

Vogels said Zocalo allows customers to store, share, and gather feedback on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, webpages, images, PDFs, or text files — from the device of their choice.

Zocalo is clearly Amazon's way of competing with the likes of Google, Box and Dropbox within the largely untapped enterprise storage market. AWS is positioning the service as a user-friendly alternative to complex legacy systems.

"Customers have told us that they're fed up with the cost, complexity, and performance of their existing old-guard enterprise document and collaboration management tools," Noah Eisner, general manager of Zocalo, said in a statement. "AWS was increasingly being asked to provide an enterprise storage and sharing tool that was easy to use, allowed users to quickly collaborate with others, and met the strict security needs of their organizations. That's what Amazon Zocalo was built to do."

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Along with pushing the new mobile suite of services, praising Zocalo and touting Amazon's mobile-first line of thinking, Vogels stressed the importance of understanding the specific properties of cloud-native applications, mobile or otherwise. And in the end his message was clear — the cloud is here to stay.

"The success of cloud and AWS is mostly driven because we are giving you the resource model that is exactly what business economies need right now, instead of just the next technology step," Vogels said. "If cloud was just the next step, it wouldn't be this big." 

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