Google has launched Firebase Analytics, a new analytics solution for mobile apps, at this year’s I/O 2016 developer conference.
Firebase was acquired by Google in late 2014 and helps developers build apps for Androids, iOS and the Web. Current features include Realtime Database, User Authentication and Hosting.
However, based on app developer feedback, Firebase is adding more tools to help developers improve app quality and the acquisition and engagement of app users. It is also introducing new monetization tools.
These new tools are all tied together by Firebase Analytics. The analytics platform is free and unlike Google Analytics, it is designed specifically for mobile apps.
That means instead of focusing on page views, impressions or sessions, developers can see what users are doing inside the app, how paid advertising campaigns are performing with cross-network attribution and where users are coming from.
All this can be viewed from a single dashboard.
A feature called Audiences allows developers to define groups of users with common attributes. Once defined, these groups can be accessed from other Firebase features. We will come back to Audiences in a bit.
Developers will now be able to better understand why an app crashes using Firebase Crash Reporting. This is a set of actionable reports developers can use to diagnose and fix problems on both iOS and Android apps.
The tool is connected to Audiences in Firebase Analytics and will let developers see if users on a particular device, in a specific geography, or in any other custom segment are experiencing elevated crash rates.
Cloud Test Lab, (announced at Google I/O 2015), is now Firebase Test Lab for Android. Test Lab lets developers find problems in their apps before their users do by facilitating automatic and customized app testing on real devices hosted in Google data centers.
Notifications and Dynamic Links
Firebase wants to help developers grow and re-engage app user bases with the following features:
- Firebase Notifications is a user interface (UI) built on top of the Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) APIs. It allows notifications to be delivered to users without writing a line of code.
- Firebase Dynamic Links makes URLs more powerful in two ways. Firstly, links persist across the app install process so users are taken to the right place when they first open the app. Secondly, the destination of a link can be changed based on run-time conditions, such as the type of browser or device. This can be applied to web, email, social media, and physical promotions for insight into growth channels.
- Firebase Invites allows users to share referral codes or content via SMS or email to their networks. The idea here is to turn customers into advocates.
- Firebase App Indexing (formerly Google App Indexing), brings new and existing users to an app from Google searches. If the app is already installed, users can launch it directly from the search results. New users have the option to click a link to install the app.
- AdWords, Google’s advertising platform for user acquisition and engagement, has been integrated into Firebase. That means Firebase can now track AdWords app installs and report lifetime value to the Firebase Analytics dashboard. There are a number of cool things that can be done here. Among them, the Firebase Audiences tool can be used in AdWords to re-engage specific groups of users and in-app events can be defined as conversions in AdWords.
Google’s cloud-to-device push messaging service Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is being integrated into Firebase’ s backend and has been renamed as Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM).
FCM is a free service with unlimited usage and supports messaging on iOS, Android and the Web. James Tamplin, product manager, Firebase, says FCM has been optimized for reliability and battery-efficiency. (It currently sends 170 billion messages per day to two billion devices.)
In response to requests to be able to better store and download images, videos and large files, Firebase has launched Firebase Storage. This feature is powered by Google Cloud Storage.
Firebase Remote Config gives developers instantly updatable variables that they can use to customize apps in real time. Features can be enabled or disabled without having to publish a new version and can be customized for different audiences.
Backend products Firebase Realtime Database, Firebase Hosting and Firebase Authentication have been updated.
AdMob has been integrated into Firebase. This tool lets developers choose ad formats, including native ads.
Finally, Firebase has a new home: firebase.google.com.
Here’s a short video explaining some of the new features: