Sprynt launches eco-friendly, free ridesharing with Firebase

A newcomer to the ridesharing space, Sprynt is taking a different approach to building its service. They have a 100% electric fleet and rides are 100% free, paid for by local and corporate sponsorships. So when they first contacted our agency Savvy Apps, we were excited about the opportunity to work with them. We knew on the technology side, though, that Sprynt would pose some unique challenges. After considering a few options, we decided to use Firebase to tackle these challenges and create the best experience for riders, drivers, and the Sprynt management team.### Prioritizing real-time communication and queue management

One of the most important components of a ridesharing app is keeping everything synced in real-time. Sprynt needed fast and reliable synchronized rider and driver apps, GPS tracking, and ride-request queue management. That’s why one of the first features that attracted us to Firebase for this app was the Realtime Database.

We leveraged Firebase’s synchronization solution for its speed, as well as the Realtime Database listeners for keeping the system fast and lightweight. In our experience, Firebase excels when dealing with simple data schemas that need real-time communication between clients and server.

Extending to a complete solution

Besides the core product requirement of real-time communication, Sprynt needed a platform that could support a fully-featured app. For example: authentication for registering and logging in, notifications to help with rider and driver communication, and an easy-to-use dashboard to help the Sprynt team understand and manage their system.

Firebase has all of these components, which made it a leading candidate and our eventual choice. It provides the ability to quickly set up and scale a backend with authentication, push notifications, custom cloud functions, file storage, and analytics. The dashboards and admin tools also allow us to stay focused on building what matters most: a compelling user experience. Simply put, Firebase let Savvy begin a product like Sprynt quickly without compromise.

For authentication, we turned to Firebase Auth because we wanted to take advantage of the new phone authentication added this year at Google I/O. We were able to quickly build an authentication mechanism that allowed for users to sign up via phone numbers. This feature was an important one for Sprynt, since it streamlined the onboarding process. That’s especially important when someone might want to get started with Sprynt in a hurry.

When it came to building in notifications, we used Firebase Cloud Messaging. FCM allowed us to send notifications programmatically, such as when a driver is on the way to a rider. Beyond that, FCM gives Sprynt admins the ability to send out quick one-off messages to their user base through the notifications dashboard. We feel that this functionality will prove invaluable for handling services outages, highlighting new specials from advertisers, or other comparable communication regarding the Sprynt service.

Ensuring Sprynt’s longevity

Sprynt launched to great success. In the first month of service, they delivered around 5,000 passengers in their pilot service area. The app maintains a 5-star rating and their advertisers are very happy with their results so far.

Sprynt is already pushing hard to keep up with demand from riders and advertisers, as well as the influx of new driver applications. They also have already begun building a steady, repeat ridership base. Google Analytics for Firebase has proven helpful in tracking this kind of usage, as well as version update adoption rates, user device types, and custom events.

We built Sprynt using Firebase for long-term sustainability without constant developer involvement. By leveraging the Firebase console, we made it as easy as possible for Sprynt’s team to manage their business, with as little development support as needed. Cloud Storage for Firebase plus Cloud Functions for Firebase allow Sprynt to upload and process updated or new service areas without directly editing the database. These features will become even more important as Sprynt continues to grow in popularity and open new service areas.

A smooth ride

While Firebase Realtime Database has some weaknesses in its query support — particularly around complex queries that include filtering and sorting collections — overall, we’ve been happy with the platform and its progress.

We’ve used Firebase since it launched years ago, but we continue to appreciate when the observeSingleEventOfType function on one device responds to an event triggered by another. Watching it happen for the first time between the Sprynt Rider app and Sprynt Driver app still provides that “aha” moment, even today.

Firebase continues to enhance our ability to build and scale new businesses as quickly as possible.

If you want to learn more about using Firebase yourself, check out the use cases section of the website or subscribe to the Firebase channel on YouTube.