Microsoft today announced a number of updates to its Azure Mobile Services that include support for Git source control, custom APIs and Android push notifications through Google Cloud Messaging to its mobile backend service. Azure users now also get a free 20MB SQL database for mobile services and web sites for 12 months.
The highlight of today’s update is clearly support for Android push notifications in Azure Mobile Service’s Notification Hubs. The Notifications Hubs, which Microsoft launched earlier this year, previously allowed developers to send push notifications to their apps on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and iOS, but with the help of MS Open Tech, the platform now also supports broadcasting notifications to Android devices via Google Cloud Messaging. With this update, Azure’s Notification Hubs now support all the major smartphone platforms and, according to Microsoft, allow developers to push notifications to millions of devices with low latency.
The other update developers will surely appreciate is the addition of source control integration with Git. As Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie notes, this now allows developers to cone their git repository on a local machine, work on their scripts and then “”easily deploy the mobile service to production using Git.” It’s worth noting that Microsoft also recently added Git support to Visual Studio and its Team Foundation Server and Service.
Developers can also now create and expose custom APIs with Azure Mobile Services. This, Guthrie says, will allow developers to work with data sources other than SQL databases and broker calls to third-party APIs. The custom APIs can be written using Node.js and can use Node’s NPM packages.
The free 20MB SQL database is unlikely to be large enough for a popular mobile app or web site in production, but as Microsoft rightly notes, it should be enough to help developers develop and test their apps.
You can find a full list of today’s updates (and a few code examples) here.