Tag Archives: Remote Config

Live from the Firebase Dev Summit in Berlin: Firebase, six months after I/O

Posted by Francis Ma, Firebase Product Manager

Originally posted to the Firebase blog

Our goal with Firebase is to help developers build better apps and grow them into successful businesses. Six months ago at Google I/O, we took our well-loved backend-as-a-service (BaaS) and expanded it to 15 features to make it Google’s unified app development platform, available across iOS, Android, and the web.

We launched many new features at Google I/O, but our work didn’t stop there. Since then, we’ve learned a lot from you (750,000+ projects created on Firebase to date!) about how you’re using our platform and how we can improve it. Thanks to your feedback, today we’re launching a number of enhancements to Crash Reporting, Analytics, support for game developers and more. For more information on our announcements, tune in to the livestream video from Firebase Dev Summit in Berlin. They’re also listed here:

Improve App Quality to Deliver Better User Experiences

Firebase Crash Reporting comes out of Beta and adds a new feature that helps you diagnose and reproduce app crashes.

Often the hardest part about fixing an issue is reproducing it, so we’ve added rich context to each crash to make the process simple. Firebase Crash Reporting now shows Firebase Analytics event data in the logs for each crash. This gives you clarity into the state of your app leading up to an error. Things like which screens of your app were visited are automatically logged with no instrumentation code required. Crash logs will also display any custom events and parameters you explicitly log using Firebase Analytics. Firebase Crash Reporting works for both iOS and Android apps.

Glide, a popular live video messaging app, relies on Firebase Crash Reporting to ensure user quality and release agility. “No matter how much effort you put into testing, it will never be as thorough as millions of active users in different locations, experiencing a variety of network conditions and real life situations. Firebase allows us to rapidly gain trust in our new version during phased release, as well as accelerate the process of identifying core issues and providing quick solutions.” - Roi Ginat, Founder, Glide.

Firebase Test Lab for Android supports more devices and introduces a free tier.

We want to help you deliver high-quality experiences, so testing your app before it goes into the wild is incredibly important. Firebase Test Lab allows you to easily test your app on many physical and virtual devices in the cloud, without writing a single line of test code. Beginning today, developers on the Spark service tier (which is free!) can run five tests per day on physical devices and ten tests per day on virtual devices—with no credit card setup required. We’ve also heard that you want more device options, so we’ve added 11 new popular Android device models to Test Lab, available today.

Illustration of Firebase Crash Reporting

Make Faster Data Driven Decisions with Firebase Analytics

Firebase Analytics now offers live reporting, a new integration with Google “Data Studio”, and real-time exporting to BigQuery.

We know that your data is most actionable when you can see and process it as quickly as possible. Therefore, we’re announcing a number of features to help you maximize the potential of your analytics events:

  1. Real-time uploading of conversion events
  2. Real-time exporting to BigQuery
  3. DebugView for validation of your analytics instrumentation
  4. StreamView, which will offer a live, dynamic view of your analytics data as we receive it

To further enhance your targeting options, we’ve improved the connection between Firebase Analytics and other Firebase features, such as Dynamic Links and Remote Config. For example, you can now use Dynamic Links on your Facebook business page, and we can identify Facebook as a source in Firebase Analytics reporting. As well, you can now target Remote Config changes by User Properties, in addition to Audiences.

Build Better Games using Firebase

Firebase now has a Unity plugin!

Game developers are building great apps, and we want Firebase to work for you, too. We’ve built an entirely new plugin for Unity that supports Analytics, the Realtime Database, Authentication, Dynamic Links, Remote Config, Notifications and more. We've also expanded our C++ SDK with Realtime Database support.

Integrate Firebase Even Easier with Open-Sourced UI Library

FirebaseUI is updated to v1.0.

FirebaseUI is a library that provides common UI elements when building apps, and it’s a quick way to integrate with Firebase. FirebaseUI 1.0 includes a drop-in UI flow for Firebase Authentication, with common identity providers such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. FirebaseUI 1.0 also added features such as client-side joins and intersections for the Realtime Database, plus integrations with Glide and SDWebImage that make downloading and displaying images from Firebase Storage a cinch. Follow our progress or contribute to our Android, iOS, and Web components on Github.

Learn More via Udacity and Join the Firebase Community

We want to provide the best tool for developers, but it’s also important that we give resources and training to help you get more out of the platform. As such, we’ve created a new Udacity course: Firebase in a Weekend! It’s an instructor-led video course to help all developers get up and running with Firebase on iOS and Android, in two days.

Finally, to help wrap your head around all our announcements, we’ve created a new demo app. This is an easy way to see how Analytics, Crash Reporting, Test Lab, Notifications, and Remote Config work in a live environment, without having to write a line of code.

Helping developers build better apps and successful businesses is at the core of Firebase. We work hard on it every day. We love hearing your feedback and ideas for new features and improvements—and we hope you can see from the length of this post that we take them to heart! Follow us on Twitter, join our Slack channel, participate in our Google Group, and let us know what you think. We’re excited to see what you’ll build next!

Introducing Firebase Remote Config

Turning a great app into a successful business requires more than simply releasing your app and calling it a day. You need to quickly adapt to your user’s feedback, test out new features and deliver content that your users care about most.

This is what Firebase Remote Config is made for. By allowing you to change the look and feel of your app from the cloud, Firebase Remote Config enables you to stay responsive to your user’s needs. Firebase Remote Config also enables you to deliver different content to different users, so you can run experiments, gradually roll out features, and even deliver customized content based on how your users interact within your app.

Let's look at what you can accomplish when your wire up your app to work with Remote Config.

Update your app without updating your app

We've all had the experience of shipping an app and discovering soon afterwards that it was less than perfect. Maybe you had incorrect or confusing text that your users don't like. Maybe you made a level in your game too difficult, and players aren't able to progress past it. Or maybe it was something as simple as adding an animation that takes too long to complete.

Traditionally, you'd need to fix these kinds of mistakes by updating those values in your app's code, building and publishing a new version of your app, and then waiting for all your users to download the new version.

But if you've wired up your app for Remote Config in the Firebase platform, you can quickly and easily change those values directly in the cloud. Remote Config can download those new values the next time your user starts your app and address your users' needs, all without having to publish a new version of your app.

Deliver the Right Content to the Right People

Firebase Remote Config allows you to deliver different configurations to targeted groups of users by making use of conditions, which use targeting rules to deliver specific values for different users. For example, you can send down custom Remote Config data to your users in different countries. Or, you can send down different data sets separately to iOS and Android devices.

You can can also deliver different values based on audiences you've defined in Firebase Analytics for some more sophisticated targeting. So if you want to change the look of your in-app store just for players who have visited your store in the past, but haven't purchased anything yet, that's something you can do by creating Remote Config values just for that audience.

Run A/B Tests and Gradual Rollouts

Remote Config conditions also allow you to deliver different values to random sets of users. You can take advantage of this feature to run A/B tests or to gradually rollout new features.

If you are launching a new feature in your app but aren't sure if your audience is going to love it, you can hide it behind a flag in your code. Then, you can change the value of that flag using Remote Config to turn the feature on or off. By defining a "My New Feature Experiment" condition that is active for, say, 10% of the population, you can turn on this new feature for a small subset of your users, and make sure it's a great experience before you turn it on for the rest of your population.

Similarly, you can run A/B tests by supplying different values to different population groups. Want to see if people are more likely to complete a purchase if your in-app purchase button says, "Buy now" or "Checkout"? That's the kind of experiment you can easily run using A/B tests.

If you want to track the results of these A/B tests, you can do that today by setting a user property in Firebase Analytics based on your experiment. Then, you can filter any of your Firebase Analytics reports (like whether or not the user started the purchase process) by this property. Watch this space for news on upcoming improvements to A/B testing.

A Fabulous Improvement in Retention

Many of our early partners have already been using Firebase Remote config to test out changes within their app.

Fabulous, an app from Duke University's designed to help people adopt better lifestyle habits, wanted to experiment with their getting started flow to see which methods were most effective for getting their users up and running in their app. They not only A/B tested changes like images, text, and button labels, but they also A/B tested the entire onboarding process by using Remote Config to determine what dialogs people saw and in what order.

Thanks to their experiments with Remote Config, Fabulous was able to increase the number of people who completed their onboarding flow from 42% to 64%, and their one-day retention rate by 27%.

Research has shown that an average app loses the majority of their users in the first 3 days, so making these kinds of improvements to your app's onboarding process -- and confirming their effectiveness by conducting A/B tests -- can be crucial to ensuring the long-term success of your app.

Is Your App Wired Up?

When you use remote config Remote Config, you can supply all of your default values locally on the device, then only send down new values from the cloud where they differ from your defaults. This gives you the flexibility to wire up every value in your app to be potentially configurable through Remote Config, while keeping your network calls lightweight because you're only sending down changes. So feel free to take all your hard-coded strings, constants, and that AppConstants file you've got sitting around (it's okay, we all have one), and wire 'em up for Remote Config!

Firebase Remote Config is part of the Firebase platform and is available for free on both iOS and Android. If you want to find out more, please see our documentation and be sure to explore all the features of the Firebase SDK.