What’s new at Firebase Dev Summit 2017

Our mission for Firebase is to help you build better apps and grow your business, by providing tools that solve common problems throughout your app development lifecycle. We manage your backend infrastructure, provide you with the tools to improve the quality and stability of your app, and help you acquire and engage users, so you can focus on building a fantastic user experience.

To date, over one million developers have used Firebase to build their apps across iOS, Android and the web. It’s both inspiring and humbling to hear the many stories that all of you share with us. Take Doodle, for instance, a company that helps you find the best date and time to meet with people. Doodle recently used Firebase to redesign their app and increase retention and engagement.

We’re excited to be hosting the second annual Firebase Dev Summit here in Amsterdam, where we get to meet many members of our developer community! We’ve been working hard to improve Firebase, so that our products work seamlessly together, and we have several exciting new updates to share today. We’ve integrated Crashlytics into Firebase, enabled first-class A/B support and taken our first step in bringing the power of Google’s machine learning into Firebase with a new product called Predictions. We’ve also made a few other improvements, so let’s dive in!

Bringing Crashlytics into Firebase

Since Fabric joined Google, we’ve been working to bring the best of our platforms together. Today we’re announcing a big step in that journey: we’re adding Crashlytics to the Firebase Console for new and existing Firebase users. Crashlytics is the best-in-class crash reporter that helps you track, prioritize, and fix stability issues that erode your app quality, in realtime. We’ll be rolling out this update over the next several weeks, but if you’re eager to try it out sooner, you can visit g.co/firebase/opt-in and get access today.

We’re also integrating Crashlytics with other parts of Firebase. You can now use Crashlytics events to trigger Cloud Functions and power custom workflow integrations. For example, you can automate a workflow to route issues in a critical app flow - like your purchase path - to a particular developer or Slack room, ensuring the proper escalations, reducing the time to resolution, and increasing stability.

Redesigning the console

In addition to bringing Crashlytics to Firebase, collaborating with the Fabric team has allowed us to make some exciting updates to the Firebase console that will help you find key information about your app more easily and efficiently.

First of all, you’re going to notice a new structure in the left-hand navigation bar. We’ve clustered Firebase products into four main areas, based on the app development lifecycle: Develop, Stability, Analytics, and Grow. All of the products that you’re used to seeing in the Firebase console are still there; we’ve simply reorganized things to more accurately reflect the way your team works.

We’ve also redesigned the first screen you see when you open a Firebase project — what we call your Project Overview screen. We’ve heard from you that the majority of the time, when you come to the console, you’re looking for four main statistics: daily active users, monthly active users, crash-free user rate, and total crashes. We’ve taken those four key metrics and made them front-and-center for any apps in the project. We’ve also added sparklines, so you can understand how your app is trending over time.

Finally, we’ve overhauled the Analytics section of the console. You’ll find a new dashboard that is organized around the questions and tasks that you tackle on a day-to-day basis. We’ve also added a Latest Release section that gives you all the information you need about the stability and adoption of your latest app release, so you can make quick decisions after a launch. Lastly, we’ve added realtime cards to both of these sections, so you can have up-to-the-second insight into your app data. Like Crashlytics, these changes are rolling out over the next few weeks, but you can get access today by visiting g.co/firebase/opt-in.

Analytics dashboard before
Analytics dashboard before
Analytics dashboard after
Analytics dashboard after

Analytics dashboard, before and after

Improving the Cloud Messaging API

Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) gives you an easy way to send notifications to your users, either programmatically or through the Firebase Console. However, sending cross-platform notifications with more complex functionality has been difficult, sometimes requiring you to create multiple, separate messages.

Today, we’re announcing a new RESTful, FCM HTTP v1 API that makes it safer and easier to send messages to your cross-platform applications. The new FCM API allows you to use platform-specific fields in a single notification. For example, you might send a simple text notification to iOS, but a request with a click_action to Android, all in one API call. To read more about the new FCM API, visit our documentation.

Announcing a new A/B testing framework

In addition to FCM, another powerful tool for driving user engagement and retention is Remote Config. Up until now, running variant tests with either Remote Config or FCM has been manual and quite some work. We’ve heard from many of you that you want an easier way to test how different app variants or push notification messages impact your key business metrics.

Today, we’re launching the beta version of A/B testing, a new Firebase feature that’s integrated with Analytics, FCM and Remote Config. It’s built on the statistical engine and years of learning from Google Optimize, our free website testing and personalization product, and makes it easy to design experiments right from the Firebase console.

Setting up an A/B test is quick and simple. You can create an experiment with Remote Config or FCM, define different variant values and population sizes to test on, then set the experiment goal. From there, Firebase will take care of the rest, automatically running the experiment then letting you know when a winner towards your goal is determined with statistical significance. Learn more and get started with A/B testing here.

Introducing Firebase Predictions

Whether you’re driving engagement, revenue, or a different business metric, determining the right targeting can be difficult. Being proactive, instead of reactive, is always better, but up until now, there’s been no easy way to anticipate what actions your users are likely to take. To help with this, we’re taking our first step in bringing the power of Google’s machine learning to Firebase with a new product called Firebase Predictions.

We’ve already started using machine learning in other parts of Google, to enhance consumer products like Photos, Inbox, or the Assistant. Now, you can harness Google’s machine learning, using Firebase, to help you build great products. Predictions automatically creates dynamic user groups based on predicted behavior from your Analytics data and, out of the box, it will generate four user groups:

  • Users who are predicted to churn in the next 7 days
  • Users who are predicted to stay engaged with your app
  • Users who are predicted to spend money
  • Users who are predicted to not spend money in the next 7 days

You can use these predictions for targeting with Remote Config and notifications composer, giving you the ability to only show ads to users who are predicted to not spend money in your app or send a notification to users who are predicted to churn in the next 7 days.

You can also create predictions for any Analytics conversion event in your app. For example, if completing level 3 is an important milestone in your app, you can create a prediction for users who are likely to not hit that milestone and then send them an in-app promotion using Remote Config.

We’re already hearing from partners that Predictions helps them drive growth in their key business metrics. Halfbrick, a games developer known for popular titles such as Fruit Ninja and Dan the Man, used Predictions and Remote Config and boosted their 7-day retention rate by 20%! To learn more about Predictions, as well as read the full Halfbrick story, visit our product page here.

Looking to the future

While we’re excited about the updates to Firebase that we’ve announced today, we also know that there’s a lot more work to be done. We are working hard to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) across Firebase and we’re committed to helping you succeed under it. Offering a data processing agreement where appropriate is one important step we’re taking to make sure that Firebase works for you, no matter how large your business or where your users are. We’ll also be publishing tools and documentation to help developers ensure they are compliant. You can check out our privacy FAQs at g.co/firebase/gdpr.

As we continue to grow and improve the platform, we’d love to have your input. Join our Alpha program to help shape the future of the platform and stay on the cutting edge of Firebase.

If you weren’t able to join us in person in Amsterdam, all of our sessions are recorded and posted to our YouTube channel. Thanks for being a part of our community and happy building!