This year at I/O, Google brought together developers for an immersive, three-day experience focused on the future of technology, mobile, and beyond. As the company’s annual developer conference, 2016 displayed how Google’s vision for technology is becoming largely omnipresent. With many notable announcements shared, Google’s announcement to expand Firebase is an exciting one. Firebase is a platform focused on improving app quality, acquiring and engaging users, and monetizing apps. As a standalone company of 3 years, and purchased by Google less than 18 months ago, Google has already capitalized and launched many plans for the growing platform.
When Firebase Joined Google
When Firebase joined Google, they had over 110,000 developers leveraging Firebase’s tools, libraries, and community to build their apps efficiently and effectively. Over the course of 18 months, Google was able to scale Firebase so that it could deliver an even more robust platform for mobile and web apps. Today Firebase has a community of over 450,000 developers and even more features that were announced during the Google I/O conference. How Google and Firebase were able to cultivate a working relationship can be attributed to their very similar viewpoints on where the future of mobile and web-based development was headed. Firebase was able to gain access to a cloud infrastructure suite, and Cloud Platform customers were able to gain access to Firebase’s rapid development capabilities.
New Features of Firebase Announced At Google I/O
Firebase’s new features were based off three principles: optimizing the developer’s user experience, cross-platform support for iOS, Website, or Android, and the ability to integrate data flow between their SDK, console, and document and support features. With these principles in mind, Google and Firebase rolled out Firebase Analytics, a free and new unlimited analytics solution specifically tailored for mobile apps.
How Firebase Analytics differs from that of Google Analytics is its focus on user and event-centric tracking. Instead of focusing on page views and sessions, Firebase will be able to shed more light on what actions your users are taking within mobile applications. Additionally, Firebase Analytics will also show you how your paid advertising campaigns are performing so that you know where your users are coming from.
During Google I/O, Firebase also announced their integration with Audiences, a feature that lets you define groups of users with common attributes, helping to better categorize and analyze what you’re customers are doing.
Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM), Storage, & Remote Config
- FCM: Now available for free and unlimited usage, Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) supports cloud-to-device push messaging for iOS, Android, and the Web. FCM is built to scale so that it has the ability to send well over 170 billion messages per day to two billion devices.
- Firebase Storage: Powered by Google Cloud Storage, developers will have the ability to update and download large files.
- Firebase Remote Config: Developers now have the ability to customize on the fly using instantly updatable variables without having to publish a new version.
Firebase Crash Reporting
Developers wishing to deliver higher quality apps now can use Firebase Crash Reporting to prioritize what errors are happening with their mobile apps. Firebase Audiences will help support Firebase Crash Reporting so developers can see what device types and locations are experiencing high crash rates.
Firebase Growth Features
For developers that have already developed their apps, Firebase also has features to help grow and re-engage their users.
- Firebase Notifications: This UI will help to better deliver notifications to users and eliminates writing a line of code to do so.
- Firebase Dynamic Links: These durable URLs help users navigate to the correct place as soon as the app opens, increasing user experience and decreasing run-time conditions.
- Firebase Invites: Developers can give your users the ability to easily share their app through SMS or email using referral codes.
- Firebase App Indexing: Developer’s apps can now be downloaded directly from Google search results, making it easier to access and, hopefully, increasing acquisition rates.
- AdWords: Firebase is now integrated with Google Adwords so that Firebase Audience’s group segmentation targets users more effectively.
Although Google has already morphed Firebase’s mobile back-end as a service (BaaS) into a full mobile development platform, they are still investing heavily in their existing backend products. Firebase Realtime Database now has a completely rebuilt UI, Firebase Hosting provides free custom domain support, and Firebase Authentication has brand new SDKs and an upgraded infrastructure specifically catered to security and reliability. All of these features, as well as the above-listed add-ons, are ready-to-use. Google’s Firebase is still in the early days as a new platform and still needs many refinements. Google is working very quickly to address any glitches and improve Firebase. In the meantime, developers can enjoy Firebase’s new features to see out which ones, if any, align best with their mobile app goals.