Tutorial :What common backend can be accessed securely from an iPhone and Android application?



Question:

I'm thinking about creating an application for the iPhone and Android that will need to access a common backend to retrieve account information. Can both access a web service over https? What other way would allow me to have one interface to the backend that is accessible by both?


Solution:1

They both work over http and https which is a common enough protocol. I would suggest you go with a RESTful web service so you expose your service via URI's like http://www.myservice.com/weather/zip/98007 which would return an XML blob that can be parsed by the client.


Solution:2

if you are starting from nothing, i'd definitely go with RESTful service that returns/accepts JSON... there are plenty of libraries for both platforms that will accept JSON and turn it into arrays and dictionaries.


Solution:3

I'd recommend using a RESTful web service backend, which is all standard HTTP and/or HTTPS. If you can use Ruby on Rails, its default scaffolding will get you about 99% of the way there and for the iPhone there is an open source project called ObjectiveResource that will automate your communication with this Rails backend. I haven't investigated yet what options are available on Android but since it is all simple HTTP it should be straightforward. I am not the maintainer of ObjectiveResource but I have contributed some code. You can check it out here:

http://iphoneonrails.com


Solution:4

One good approach I have seen used with other services is to write the backend in such a way that it can feed data back in different types - for Android an XML response is best, but for the iPhone sending back plist data is preferred (though it can also work with XML if required). In both cases it's easier to simply POST updates back to the server than to wrap an update in XML.

Both platforms should be able to use whatever form of authentication you wish to use, the iPhone I know supports all methods of HTTP authentication.


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