Google Firebase – A unified app platform for Android, iOS and the web


Founded in 2011 as a Backend as a Service (BaaS) company with a few developers, acquired by Google in October 2014 with 110,000 developers and now, a complete backend solution for mobile and web development with 450,000 developers, the journey of Firebase has been remarkable.

Firebase has come up with a single, easy-to-use, all-in-one package that offers Google’s best offerings so that the application development and optimization can be done from a single platform.

We have been using multiple tools and technologies during the entire web or mobile application development process; different platforms for development, analysis and monetization. Tech experts have been using Flurry Analytics and Google Analytics for analytics and tools like Crashlytics and Instabug for crash reporting.

But what if you were able to get a replacement of all these tools? What if you had access to a platform that let you develop apps, analyze them, add features and make money out of it?

Google Firebase is that platform that helps you develop high-quality apps, perform the analytics to constantly improve the user interface and experience, grow your user base and make more money out of it.

What Google Firebase Can Do For You – Firebase Features

Google Firebase is filled with a comprehensive range of features and you can mix and match them as per the needs and requirements of the application. Let’s walk through some of the best features of Google Firebase.

Firebase = Develop + Analyze + Grow + Earn

1. Analytics lies at the heart of Google Firebase

Analytics is one of the most important factors that contribute to the success of mobile apps, which is exactly why there are so many types of analytics tools available for the app developers. Some of the tools are for in-app behavioral analytics to check out who are your users and what they are doing, attribution analytics to check out the effectiveness of advertisements and other campaigns, push notification analytics and crash reporting. These are done by different analytics libraries and reports reside in different tools. Trying to understand the trends from these reports becomes tedious. That’s where Firebase Analytics comes into the play.

Firebase Analytics is a free and unlimited app measurement solution that has made analysis simpler than ever. It gives all the data in a single place making it easier and quicker for app developers to analyze and gain insights out of it. After the Firebase SDK is installed, it starts providing free and unlimited logging and reporting. All the data is available on the dashboard through the console that lets you understand user behavior so that you know how to market your app.

Using Firebase Analytics, you can find out who your users are, how regularly they are using your app, how much time they spend using it and how much money they spent in your app. Apart from knowing about individual users, you can also find out the behavior of different groups of users and then you can take action on audiences and send notifications to them. Moreover, Firebase Analytics will also let you see the performance of your campaigns to understand which methods are most effective. It also allows custom analytics involving complex analysis, large data sets and joining multiple data sources by linking your Analytics data to BigQuery. ‘Funnels’ is one of the most important features in Analytics, as it lets you optimize the completion rate of any event or a series of steps in the app. Using Funnel, you can find out from which step most users abandon the process and then make necessary changes to improve app retention.

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2. Develop: Upgrading existing features and adding in new ones

Google Firebase has had three important features (Authentication, Realtime Database and Hosting) for development. These features have been upgraded for even better app development.

Authentication

  • Firebase has made authentication easy for end users and developers
  • Supports a lot of different ways of user authentication
  • Built-in functionality for the third party providers like Facebook, Twitter, Google and GitHub
  • Can be integrated with an existing account

Realtime Database

  • Realtime Database stores and syncs the data between your users in real time
  • Users can access data from any device & they can collaborate with other users
  • Realtime Database sends notifications to interested devices
  • It allows offline use and synchronizes the changes, if there are any, once the data connection is reestablished
  • User can specify database security roles
  • No server maintenance and operations

Hosting

  • Firebase Hosting is custom-made for frontend web applications
  • It is a fast, secure and reliable static web hosting provider
  • It provides fast content delivery to users, no matter where they are
  • It provides reliable low latency experience
  • Sites are served over secured connection
  • It is great for single page web apps, mobile app landing apps and progressive web apps

New Features

Storage

  • Storage API lets users upload files to cloud so that they can be shared with other users
  • All transfers are performed over a secure connection
  • All transfers are robust and they automatically resume in case connection is broken which is useful for transferring large files over slow or unreliable mobile connections
  • Storage space is in petabytes and users can store billions of photos, so they will never be out of space

Cloud Messaging

  • Firebase cloud messaging makes sending messages easy
  • It is a free service for sending messages to other users through apps across various platforms
  • Users can send messages to single devices or groups of devices
  • It also makes building notifications on messaging system easy
  • It is powerful and scalable, as it delivers billions of messages every day to connected devices across platforms

Remote Config

  • Firebase Remote Config lets you deploy the changes in your app within minutes
  • Remote Config’s audience segmentation feature helps you with A/B testing by letting you deliver different configurations to different groups of users simultaneously
  • Firebase Remote Config also lets you try the changes to small number of users before you roll them out to a large audience
  • It can deliver different configuration sets to users on the basis of different factors

Test Lab (for Android)

  • Test Lab for Android makes it easy and affordable to test your app with various devices so that you know what will be the best for all the users
  • It provides a lot of physical devices to test your app
  • The best and the easiest way to use a Firebase test lab is to run a robo test and then there is no need of additional code to do so
  • Test results contain detailed report including screenshots and device log
  • There are several ways that help you test regularly:

1. Console – to upload and test your app

2. Command line interface

3. Android Studio 2.0

4. Play store developer console

Crash Reporting

  • Firebase Crash Reporting tool collects information about crashes and sends it to dashboard that monitors the overall health of your app
  • It can see top crashes and track recent history of crashes in app
  • Crashes are grouped together on the basis of similar factors and they are ordered by severity so that you know which issues you have to resolve first
  • All the crashes come with the detailed information like stack trace, device type and other important details like OS and app version at the time of crash
  • It is easy to get started with Firebase Crash Reporting
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3. Grow: Google Firebase helps in rapid expansion of your business

Notifications

  • Firebase Notifications Console helps you to re-engage your users quickly and easily
  • It lets you manage and send notifications to your users and you don’t require additional code for that
  • You can address the messages to single devices or Firebase cloud messaging topics
  • Firebase Notifications Console integrates with analytics, so you can know how effective your messages are on the basis of user activities

App Indexing

  • Using App Indexing, you can increase user re-engagement with Google Search integration as well as getting their app in search results
  • In Android, App Indexing is done using Android app linking and in iOS, it is done using iOS universal links
  • Using app indexing SDK or API, you can submit content to search engine on the basis of how people use your app content

Dynamic Links

  • Dynamic links let you set single link differently on iOS, Android, and desktop browser and take you to a place that is appropriate to that platform
  • You can set up dynamic links to set its behavior differently for the users who have your app installed and who don’t
  • If a user doesn’t have your app installed, you can redirect them to your website or to the Google Play Store. It will install the app and user will still get information that he was looking for when he opens app for the first time
  • Dynamic links can also be used for campaign emails, social media, banner ad text and you can check which campaigns are getting you highest quality users
  • It also helps you give users customized first-time experience on the basis of the campaign that brought them there
  • Dynamic links are great for sharing too; be it recipes or coupon codes
  • Being a part of Firebase console, it also lets you see the stats through Firebase console so that you can check how many people clicked on link or you can use Firebase analytics to check which users first opened app through particular links

Invites

  • Through Firebase Invites, you can share all aspects of your app; be it coupon code or a piece of content on Android as well as iOS
  • It works even if that friend has to install the app first
  • Firebase Invites works with Firebase Analytics and you can know when your users have installed or opened an app through invites

AdWords

  • AdWords help you put ads in front of billions of people
  • It lets you set up an ad campaign so that you can reach users that might be interested in your app
  • You can set budget and acquisition cost and you have to pay only if user clicks on that app
  • To make sure you are reaching the right users, you can build audiences, specific user segments and have AdWords to display your ads to them

4. Earn: Generate even more revenue leveraging Firebase

AdMob

  • AdMob automatically selects the ads that pay you the most
  • With AdMob, you can create CSS templates designed specifically for your user experience
  • It also helps you earn in-app purchase revenue
  • You can also determine which users are most likely to purchase so that you can target those people
  • It helps you connect to ad networks around the world

Once the app is ready and we submit it to our clients, it becomes extremely easy for them to use it. Analyzing the user behavior and making money out of the app through Firebase doesn’t involve a steep learning curve. Firebase implementation is quick and easy; you can make smart and data-driven decisions using free and unlimited analytics solutions.

No matter which package you chose, features like Analytics, App Indexing, Authentication, Dynamic Links, FCM, Invites, Notifications, Crash Reporting, and Remote Config are free. A few paid ones are Realtime Database, File Storage, Hosting, Test Lab (Android) and Google Cloud Platform. So, you can start for free and then scale with ease, as most of the features are for free.