Google Firebase aims to catalyse the app market with free backend tools

Google Firebase aims to catalyse the app market with free backend tools
Google Firebase aims to catalyse the app market with free backend tools


Firebase is a backend as a service platform offering a series of app development tools: data storage and synchronization in the cloud, measuring user behavior and solutions for monetizing products.

At the beginning of October 2015 the search engine launched its Accelerated Mobile Pages, its fast-loading open standard for consuming information on mobile networks. It also has its Progressive Web Apps project, a mixture of websites and apps, and our topic today: Google Firebase, its SaS (Software as Service) platform for storing and synchronizing data for apps in the cloud. 

Firebase is based on four major business pillars, which it intends to leverage as a catalyst for hosting third-party apps:

●   A series of features for the development of mobile apps: Google offers data storage in the cloud, user authentication processes, database service, error reporting and more.

●   Analytics service: Google offers Firebase Analytics, an analytics service included as part of the free service for measuring user behavior within the products from the same metrics panel.

●   Resources for growth: the search engine looks at distribution for growing the audience –for example, through notifications. This includes everything related to advertising within Adwords.

●   Monetization: Firebase is integrated with a monetization tool called AdMob, which includes advertising in apps.

How to develop apps with Firebase

The only thing you need to develop a project with Google Firebase is to have a Gmail account, the same as for almost all the search engine’s products. Firebase gives app developers a platform that stores and synchronizes the information housed in a NoSQL database in the cloud with each application. These data are always synchronized in real time and continue to be available even when the app loses its Internet connection.

This NoSQL database is known by the name of Firebase Realtime Database. It stores the data in the JSON format, and synchronizes them with all the customers who happen to be connected at that time. The idea is that when a development team creates an application with Firebase’s Android, iOS or JavaScript SDKs, all those customers share the same instance within the NoSQL database, and the updated data is always received in real-time in response to the users’ requests.  

Once a free account has been set up in the Firebase console, each new app in the console is identified with a single URL that will serve to both store and synchronize the data in the database and to authenticate users. New apps can be registered within the console, and also administered or deleted. Here again, changes can be made in the database and the user authentication can be administered in each project. This is the Firebase operations center.

User authentication with Firebase

With the Firebase Authentication service, the whole user identity authentication process is done under market standards such as OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect. The idea is that the apps should be capable of recognizing the user’s identity, store their personal details and offer the same personalized experience from any device and from any operating system.

To start a user session in an application housed in the cloud like Firebase, you need to provide an email address and password, or use an OAuth token from a provider of federated identities if you log in through popular external services like Facebook and Twitter, or Google Plus.

Storage and analytics with Firebase

The other two major pillars of Firebase are its storage and its analytics service, designed for metrics to measure user behavior. The first product, Firebase Storage, offers the possibility of hosting images, audio and video and any other content generated by the users themselves. Firebase Storage is supported by Google Cloud Storage, a larger service that acts as back-up. The aim of this storage is to give service to applications that store and provide content created by their users.

Although Firebase Storage is backed by Google Cloud Storage, that doesn’t mean this is a non-scalable service – quite the reverse. Its scalability occurs automatically whenever required by the customer. Access and administration of the data accumulated in Firebase Storage is through its SDKs or through Google Cloud APIs, which manage all the information in two standard formats: XML and JSON.

It is worth noting that Firebase Analytics is a free and almost unlimited solution. In fact, it has the capacity to generate reports on metrics from a total of 500 events, a fairly high number for a totally free service. These events can be implemented in any native application for whatever environment (iOS or Android) through the analytics service SDK.

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