Google turns Firebase to be a unified App platform with analytics, messaging and much more
At the Google I/O 2016 keynote, the company announced several new features for the new version of Firebase, which will provide better tools for mobile developers. Google had acquired Firebase, the mobile backend as a service company in 2014.
“Firebase is an amazing way for developers who don’t even know what a cloud is to develop cloud-based applications,” Greg DeMichillie, director of product management for Google’s cloud operation, said at a panel at I/O. And that means enterprise developers too. “Firebase will be an essential tool to build enterprise mobile apps,” said Urs Holzle, a Google senior vice president who heads Google infrastructure.
Google wants the new Firebase to be a complete platform for developing and managing Android, iOS, and web apps. The search giant with its move is looking to turn the backend in to an all-encompassing app platform that could replace Facebook’s Parse. However, at the same time, Google promises that existing features will continue to be supported and that the guiding principles of Firebase – quality developer experiences, cross-platform, and close integration – will remain unchanged.
The main feature Google showed off was its new free and unlimited mobile analytic tool. The Firebase Analytics service will serve as the glue for all of Firebase’s storage, user “push” notifications, purchase tracking and other services. The analytics service will not only allow the developers measure installations, but also purchases and a dozen other customer actions. Firebase Storage will allow developers to store media on a highly scalable and flexible system.
“This is really the next generation of Firebase,” said Firebase Analytics product manager Russ Ketchum, who added that the number of developers using the service has quadrupled since the acquisition, to 450,000. “You can think of this as Google’s mobile development platform now.”
Also, instead of than tracking web-focused metrics such as page views, it will track metrics that are unique to mobile and focus on how the user is reciprocating with the app, pointed out Jason Titus, head of Google’s developer product group.
Other new and free features added to Firebase are crash reporting, remote configuration and dynamic links (also known as deep-links, they take users directly to a specific app location even if the app has yet to be installed). Firebase Remote Config will allow devs to make changes to installed apps without having to publish new versions.
The new Firebase also introduces a “test lab” that allows devs to spot issues with their apps before users can see them. AdWords and AdMob, Google’s powerful advertising platforms are also now built into Firebase.