Over the past few months, we’ve seen that apps not only improve the way we live, they also enhance our ability to adapt to change. In 2020, more businesses and families have turned to apps to stay connected, productive, and entertained. At the same time, our developer community has stepped up to build and scale the apps people are relying on. Our team, alongside the rest of Google, has strived to be supportive in this moment. Our mission is to help you succeed by making it easy to build and operate apps.
Last year, we shared that 2 million apps actively use Firebase every month. Now, that number has grown to over 2.5 million monthly active apps, which includes global businesses like Gameloft and Alibaba, as well as innovative startups like Classkick. Classkick is a full-spectrum learning platform with a backend powered by our Realtime Database and supported by Google Cloud. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close, Classkick onboarded thousands of teachers and school administrators to their platform. With Firebase, they were able to scale to meet this new demand so students could continue to learn effectively from home and stay engaged with their teachers and classmates.
Classkick is helping students learn effectively from home
Classkick is just one example from our incredible community of how apps are helping people adapt to their new surroundings. It’s stories like these that inspire us to keep making Firebase better. Every year at Firebase Summit, we share updates on how we can help you accelerate app development, run your app efficiently, and tailor Firebase to suit your needs. Read on to learn what’s new at our digital Firebase Summit 2020, and view the sessions and resources on our summit website.
Accelerate app development with new building blocks
We’re continuing to invest in tools that speed up your app development so you can deliver value to your users in less time.
Introducing the Authentication emulator for rapid iteration and local development
Last year, we launched the Firebase Emulator Suite to let you run emulated versions of our backend products for a faster and safer development experience. A few months ago, we introduced you to the local emulator UI, which makes it possible to run services locally via a web app with a distinguishable UI, and comes with features like advanced data editing and searching. The Emulator Suite supports Hosting, Realtime Database, Firestore, Cloud Functions, and Cloud Pub/Sub - and now, we’ve added support for Firebase Authentication.
This means you can test the entire user management process - from user creation to Function trigger to sending updates to Firestore, and even fuzzy log searches to debug interactions between the emulators and your application - on your local machine. You can also use the new auth emulator to run integration tests that rely on authentication. The Emulator Suite, now with Firebase Authentication, allows you to shift to a local-first developer workflow so you can experiment and rapidly iterate without touching production data, incurring costs, or worrying that you’ll break something. Check out our documentation to get started.
New Hosting preview channels let you see changes before publishing
Web development can be cumbersome and complicated. With Firebase Hosting, you can deploy secure, fast-loading web apps and landing pages that are backed by a global CDN in less time, and with less hassle. Recently, we added new features that many of you have been asking for, including an integration with Cloud Logging to give you more server-side analytics, support for Brotli compression to boost your site performance, and improved support for localized content.
Our latest update to Firebase Hosting, preview channels, lets you see your changes before publishing them to your site. Now, you can deploy changes to a preview channel in seconds with a single command and generate an obscured unique URL to share with your team. Preview channels not only let you check that your changes look as intended right away, they also make collaboration quicker and easier even if you’re working across a distributed team. Try them out today!
More Extensions for adding features and functionality
At last year’s Firebase Summit, we launched Firebase Extensions; pre-packaged solutions that automate common tasks in your projects and let you add new functionality in fewer steps. Since then, we’ve partnered with Stripe to release the Send Invoices using Stripe and the Run Subscription Payments with Stripe extensions. These extensions let you integrate the Stripe payments platform with Firebase without requiring you to learn Stripe’s API.
Today, we’re sharing a preview of another extension through our Alpha Program, called Detect Online Presence. Detect Online Presence shows you which users or devices are currently online and stores that data in Cloud Firestore. If you’re developing a game or a social app, you can use this extension to let your users know when their friends are online for a friendly match or chat. Join our Alpha Program to try it out!
Get actionable insights to run your app efficiently
In addition to accelerating app development, Firebase provides actionable data so you can optimize your app - and ultimately, keep users happy.
Redesigned Performance Monitoring dashboard to help you focus on critical metrics
Any time you release a new version of your app, it’s important to pay attention to stability and performance metrics to ensure your users have a fast, high-quality experience. Firebase Performance Monitoring gathers and presents data about your app’s performance to show you exactly what’s happening in your app - and when users are encountering slowness. But sometimes, there’s so much information, it can be hard to focus on what’s important.
To help you hone in on key insights, we’re excited to unveil the redesigned Performance Monitoring dashboard. This new dashboard makes it crystal clear if one of your critical metrics needs attention so that you can take action, and it’s customizable, allowing you to bring the metrics you care about most to the forefront. We’ve made this dashboard available to everyone - just head on over to the console and add the metrics that matter to you.
New organizational and targeting tools for Remote Config
As people start using your app, you’ll want to delight them with new features, promotions, and personalization so they stick around. With Firebase Remote Config, you can dynamically alter your app, safely test and release new features, and stay in control of the whole experience - without having to publish a new version. However, as your project gets bigger, it might become hard to maintain and navigate through your app config. Over the past few months, we’ve added new features to help you better organize, visualize, and target your parameters so you can manage your app config more efficiently.
First, we added information about experiments into the Remote Config dashboard and launched parameter groups. Then, we made it possible to sort parameters alphabetically and enhanced the search tool. On top of that, we improved version targeting by making it available for iOS and adding support for semantic versioning, so you can use numeric operators like “>=” to target specific app versions without resorting to complicated regular expressions.
Most recently, we launched config metrics to give you more visibility into how your app configuration is behaving for users so you can find and fix incorrect configurations quickly. These config metrics include realtime fetch requests, which allow you to monitor rollouts of a new set of values, and fetch percentages, which show you the distribution of parameter values across users. For example, when you see a smaller fetch percentage for a condition than expected, it signals that the wrong users may be exposed to the intended values.
Tailor Firebase to suit your needs as you scale
When your app and business grow, your development challenges may become more complex. We’re working to give you automation capabilities, such as Crashlytics BigQuery streaming, and more control and flexibility so you can adapt Firebase to fit your sophisticated needs.
New Google Analytics APIs for better data management
One of the key factors in scaling a successful app is knowing how your users are interacting with it. Our robust integration with Google Analytics helps you understand what actions users are taking inside your app, where they’re spending their time, and why they churn — so you can make smarter decisions. Last year, we announced a significant new upgrade in Google Analytics that gave you a single view of customer engagement across both native apps and web-powered ones. Since then, we’ve added new features like the setDefaultEventParameters and powerful new ecommerce measurement, which you can read about in this blog post.
Today, we’re excited to announce three new APIs that give you more control so you can collect, record, and manage your data in a way that suits your growing business. The first one, the Google Analytics 4 Measurement Protocol, lets you log events directly to Google Analytics. This is especially useful for developers who want to augment their client-side data with server-to-server calls to gain new insights. For those of you who want to create your own custom dashboards, the Data API, which is the second new API, gives you programmatic access to your Google Analytics reporting data. Finally, the Admin API gives you the ability to configure your Analytics account and set user permissions.
Introducing imported segments for increased targeting flexibility
Over the years, we’ve seen many of you take advantage of our BigQuery integration by exporting data from Firebase, joining it with data from other channels, running sophisticated analysis - and even creating your own custom user segments in BigQuery. Now, we’re giving you the power to bring these custom segments back from BigQuery into Firebase with the launch of imported segments! This means you can target any custom segment with products like Remote Config, Cloud Messaging, and In-App Messaging. For example, if you have an ecommerce app and a physical storefront, you can import data from offline sources - like your store - and send those users an in-app promotion with In-App Messaging.
This feature is available through Firebase’s BigQuery integration. To get started, simply create your custom segment and import it into your BigQuery dataset. Then, Firebase will be able to read that data and make those segments available for targeting. We built imported segments to give you more control and flexibility to target your users.
With these improvements to Firebase, we aim to make app development faster and easier so you can stay focused on creating the amazing app experiences that people need to stay productive, connected, and entertained. People are relying on your apps to adapt and thrive in our changing world. You can rely on us to build, operate, and scale successful apps - in 2020 and beyond.