Mobile apps depend on data to operate, and as a developer, how you decide to handle that data can have huge implications on app performance. To provide the best possible experience, you must ensure fast and ready access to data and ensure users can share that data in real time, but how do you do this while contending with things like internet latency or data center outages? There are options and approaches for mobile app data processing, and this post will focus on the key to keeping mobile app data consistent: synchronization.

Why is data sync important?

Mobile developers know that maintaining data integrity across any multi-user app requires synchronization – it’s critical for consistency, security, and a good user experience. Mobile data sync means multiplayer games always show accurate scores and rankings, retail apps never oversell inventory, healthcare apps always work with current patient vitals, media streaming services pick up where you left off, and IoT sensors detect and react to issues more quickly.

Synchronization also enhances security. If a user permission changes, data sync instantly reflects the change across the app ecosystem to ensure that no one accesses something they shouldn’t.

Data sync is not optional. It is an essential capability for any mobile app and should be approached with careful consideration and planning.

Why is it hard to build data sync yourself?

The concept of data synchronization is so straightforward that many mobile development teams initially set out to build it for themselves. But they quickly realize that achieving a true data sync solution is extremely complex, especially as the number of app users and client devices increases. What’s more, it takes a great deal of effort and time to build data sync in-house, which diverts attention away from front-end development.

These are just some of the things that developers must consider when building a sync solution:

Data sync control

Synchronizing data is more than replicating local changes to other sources. It requires the ability to control replication events, define conditional replication, and provide replication filters for speed and efficiency.

Your data sync solution should:

    • Be bi-directional and support streaming, polling, one time, continuous, and push replication.
    • Be smart about identifying what subset of data has changed and only sync the delta.
    • Detect specific conditions for sync behavior, such as when connectivity is available and sufficient device power exists.
    • Selectively replicate some data but not others based on filters (for privacy, regulatory compliance, bandwidth efficiency, etc.).


When leveraging decentralized data storage for mobile apps, you must access, transmit, and store data securely and ensure only the needed data is sent to the device. To fully cover data security end-to-end, your sync solution needs to address user authentication and authorization and handle securing data at rest and in motion.

Sync conflicts

Developers must also handle cases where the same data is simultaneously modified on multiple devices, creating a conflict. Your sync solution should have a way to resolve conflicts as quickly as possible, including at the device layer, and it should offer the ability to customize conflict resolution depending on specific use cases.

The data sync imperative

Data synchronization is required for any mobile, IoT, and edge application, but you must get it right. Apps that sync slowly or show stale or incorrect information erode trust and increase abandonment.

What’s more, developing sync in-house takes tons of time and requires a myopic focus to achieve the required capabilities; that’s time and focus taken away from developing the app front end.

Don’t build sync yourself, use Couchbase!

Don’t lose time building complex backend sync yourself, use an off-the-shelf solution instead and free your team up to work on making the app front end the best it can be! To help, Couchbase offers a comprehensive data storage and sync solution as a fully managed backend service for mobile and IoT apps!

The Couchbase Mobile stack includes:

    • Couchbase Capella – A fully managed cloud NoSQL database-as-a-service (DBaaS) with SQL, search, analytics, and eventing support.
    • Capella App Services – Fully managed service for bidirectional sync, authentication, and access control for mobile and edge apps.
    • Couchbase Lite – An embedded mobile NoSQL database with support for SQL, built-in peer-to-peer sync, and broad mobile platform support.

Capella App Services provides websockets-based synchronization of data between the backend Capella database and Couchbase Lite embedded apps on edge devices. With App Services, data changes are instantly and automatically replicated across the app ecosystem as connectivity allows, while during network disruptions, apps continue to operate thanks to the embedded Couchbase Lite database.

    • Learn more about Capella App Services in the docs.

Couchbase Lite Peer-to-Peer sync

In addition to syncing data between the cloud and the edge via App Services, Couchbase Lite can also sync data peer-to-peer. The Couchbase Lite Peer-to-Peer sync feature allows data to be synchronized directly between devices without a central control point, enabling collaboration in isolation where groups of devices running Couchbase Lite embedded apps can share data amongst themselves without regard for cloud access or internet connectivity.

Mobile developers can easily add Couchbase Lite Peer-to-Peer data sync to their apps with just a few lines of code, check out this cool Peer-to-Peer demo app, Simple Color Sync:

Sync data from the cloud to the edge to the device with Couchbase

Couchbase securely syncs data between the cloud and the edge, as well as between devices, enabling you to store, query, search, and analyze data regardless of internet connectivity and speed, guaranteeing that the applications you develop will always be fast, available and consistent.


Posted by Mark Gamble, Dir Product & Solutions Mktg, Couchbase

I am a passionate product marketer with a technical and solution consulting background and 20+ years of experience in Enterprise and Open Source technology. I have launched several database and analytic solutions throughout my career, and have worked with customers across a wide variety of industries including Financial Services, Automotive, Hospitality, High-Tech and Healthcare. I have particular expertise in analytics and AI, love all things data, and am an emphatic supporter of data-for-good initiatives.

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