What is Firebase? All the secrets unlocked
This article will provide an in-depth analysis of Firebase, significant pros & cons, pricing structure, and core features.
Developing robust and high-quality mobile applications is a proposition that requires a lot of dedication, but more importantly, a powerful and feature-rich development platform.
Firebase from the Google stable is one such platform that has won over developers across the globe.
Firebase gives developers many options for creating highly functional and versatile web, Android, and iOS platform applications.
While there are several contenders in the app development space, Firebase is always conversing with the best currently available platforms.
Read on to discover how Firebase works, gain some in-depth insight into Firebase and its capabilities.
- 1 What is Firebase and how it works?
- 2 Firebase History
- 3 Who are the Firebase Founders?
- 4 Popular Apps Using Firebase
- 5 What type of apps can be developed with Firebase?
- 6 Where are Firebase headquarters located?
- 7 What are Firebase use cases?
- 8 Firebase Reviews
- 9 Firebase Advantages
- 10 Firebase Limitations
- 11 Firebase Pricing
- 12 Firebase Privacy
- 13 Firebase Features
- 14 Firebase Alternatives
- 15 Conclusion
- 16 General FAQ
- 17 What is Firebase?
- 18 What are Firebase core features?
- 19 What are the best alternatives to Firebase?
What is Firebase and how it works?
What is Google Firebase? It is a mobile application development platform from Google with powerful features for developing, handling, and enhancing applications. Firebase is a backend platform for building web and mobile applications. (1)
Firebase is fundamentally a collection of tools developers can rely on, creating applications and expanding them based on demand.
Firebase aims to solve three main problems for developers:
- Build an app, fast
- Release and monitor an app with confidence
- Engage users,
Developers relying on this platform get access to services that they would have to develop themselves, and it enables them to lay focus on delivering robust application experiences.
Some of the Google Firebase platform’s standout features include databases, authentication, push messages, analytics, file storage, and much more.
Since the services are cloud-hosted, developers can smoothly perform on-demand scaling without any hassle. Firebase is currently among the top app development platforms relied upon by developers across the globe.
Firebase history is quite fascinating, and as many startups has a lot of ups and downs. It originated from Envolve, a startup company established in 2011 by Andrew Lee and James Tamplin. (2, 3, 4)
The company offered an API for developers to facilitate online chat integration for websites. The founders of Envolve discovered that their chat service was being utilized for relaying non-chat messages.
Developers were relying on the platform for real-time application data syncing. Lee and Tamplin decided to differentiate the real-time architecture from the chat system, a move which led to Firebase being founded in 2011. The Firebase backend as a service platform was publicly launched in April 2012.
The first Firebase product launched was the Realtime Database. It is an API for application data synchronization across Android, web, and iOS devices. Application developers can rely on the platform for creating collaborative real-time applications.
The company accumulated seed funding of more than $1 million in 2012 from contributors including Greylock Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Founder Collective. The company also raised series A funding of $5.6 million in June 2013 from Flybridge Capital Partners and Union Square Ventures. (5)
Firebase Authentication and Firebase Hosting were launched in 2014 by Firebase, establishing the company as a leading mobile backend as a service (MbaaS).
Firebase became a part of Google in October 2014, and it is now the Google BaaS platform. The technology giant then acquired Divshot, a web hosting platform that was then merged with Firebase. (6)
Who are the Firebase Founders?
Popular Apps Using Firebase
Here are some examples of Firebase’s client showcase.
- The New York Times
- Le Figaro
- eBay Motors
What type of apps can be developed with Firebase?
So, what is Firebase used for? It is a pretty comprehensive and flexible platform. It allows users to develop the following categories of applications:
Where are Firebase headquarters located?
Firebase headquarters locates at San Francisco, California.
What are Firebase use cases?
The Firebase use cases are pretty broad and include:
- MVPs – Minimum viable products
- Realtime applications
- Chat and messaging apps
- Ads optimization based on user behavior
- Sharing photos
- User retention optimization via machine learning
- Business applications
To know more about this topic please read the article What is Firebase Used For.
According to G2, Firebase has a 4.5 score out of 5, and 209 users reviewed the platform. Popular mentions and product features include app development, cloud functions, and data storage.
According to TrustRadius, Firebase has an 8.6 score out of 10, and 99 users reviewed the platform. The sentiment is positive for most users, and only a tiny minority reviewed the platform negatively.
According to Capterra, Firebase has a 4.6 score out of 5, and 581 users reviewed the platform. The comprehensive set of features is a common positive aspect mentioned, and the solution’s complexity is a common negative aspect.
Here are the top ten benefits of using Firebase.
- Free to start
- Development speed
- End-to-end app development platform
- Powered by Google
- Developers can focus on frontend development
- It’s serverless
- It offers machine learning capabilities
- Generates traffic to your apps
- Error monitoring
Want to know more? See details below:
1. Free to start
Firebase is free to start with and lets users log in with their Google account. (7)
The Spark plan is free and offers many features to help developers get started. Based on growing requirements, they can then opt for the Blaze Plan.
Getting started without any cost is definitely a good option offered by Firebase and one reason it is so popular. The Spark plan does have generous database read and write number limits.
The other advantage is that the Blaze Plan takes into consideration the original free limits.
For instance, let’s consider you will host 20GB storage on the Blaze Plan. The free limit covers 10GB, and that means Firebase will only charge you 10GB for the extra usage.
2. Development Speed
Firebase is a suitable application development option that can help developers drastically reduce the time to market for developing apps.
Usually, every developer needs access to the server and host for database and backend service creation and maintenance.
Hence having a backend developer and a frontend developer is necessary to build applications. It is true even for smaller applications where backend and frontend have to cooperate at different stages.
Having frontend and backend developers can often result in errors and issues that can cause application problems increasing development cost and complexity.
However, using Firebase lets frontend developers manage all work and reduce the time needed to reach completion. That’s all thanks to ready-to-use services for data storage, authentication, notifications, analytics, and more.
On top of that, Firebase provides multiple ready-to-use services that will avoid a developer creating boilerplate code, reinventing the wheel, and start a backend from scratch.
Frontend developers won’t have many problems integrating Firebase into their codebase, thanks to its high-quality SDKs, detailed documentation, and vibrant community.
3. All in one platform (wide number of services)
Firebase also gives developers a comprehensive list of products to aid them in the development process.
Firstly, two database options are Firestore and Firebase’s Realtime Database. Likewise, Firebase lets you perform effortless cloud media storage and enables serverless application development through integrated Cloud Functions.
Firebase covers the entire application development cycle, and the platform contains features to build, release and monitor applications. Also, as the last step of the application development cycle, it provides tools to engage users and keep them using it.
4. Powered by Google
Firebase is powered by Google, one of the most prominent and trusted names in the world of technology.
Since its acquisition, Firebase has gone through a series of changes and developments and become the reliable platform it is today. It harnesses the power of the Google Cloud and many of Google’s services.
Firebase is now part of the Google Cloud Platform, works in perfect harmony with other Google Cloud services, and integrates with plenty of third party services. (8, 9)
Since Firebase’s acquisition, Google is heavily investing in the platform and delivering a more robust product.
5. Focus on frontend development
Developers worldwide prefer Firebase as it lets them focus on creating frontend code for mobile applications.
Firebase reduces the need to develop boilerplate backend code, pushing back the development completion date for applications.
Firebase makes application development convenient and helps to keep costs low.
Using Firebase also allows developers and companies to standardize the backend environment under a single and easy to learn technology.
A backend pattern decreases the amount of training required to support it and lets frontend-focused developers perform most activities.
6. It’s serverless
Scaling up and down servers it’s not an easy task! In particular, scaling up a database cluster is challenging and optimizing the performance for huge workloads requires experienced engineers.
Firebase solves this problem and provides an entirely serverless environment.
Firebase comes with a serverless architecture that requires users to pay based on requests, and there is no requirement to manage or worry about server infrastructure.
It is different from a conventional server, which has to stay functional at all times.
Firebase users are charged only when the server is being utilized due to its serverless nature.
As a result, there are fewer concerns related to scaling due to better efficiency.
Developers get freedom from taking a hands-on approach to handling DevOps, setup, infrastructure, and capacity planning.
7. Machine Learning
Machine learning is on the edge of remodeling the information technology sector. In countless ways, it’s already started.
According to Gartner, 30% of businesses will use ML in one part of their processes. (10)
Firebase is also advantageous as it offers developers the option to rely on machine learning.
ML can be utilized by both iOS and Android developers regardless of their level of experience.
Firebase comes with an ML kit with readily-available APIs for different mobile platforms features like text identification, face detection, image labeling, barcode scanning, and more.
Developers can opt for Cloud or on-device APIs based on their application development requirements.
8. Generate traffic
Firebase facilitates app indexing to let users reengage Google Search users by providing app links on Search. (11)
Application ranking can also be enhanced on Search once by indexing an application, which helps your app gain exposure to new users who can install it.
Developers can rely on the Android Instant App that can be utilized for accessing application content.
9. Monitor Errors
Firebase’s Crashlytics feature is a fantastic tool to find and fix issues in a fast way. Firebase can monitor both non-fatal and fatal errors, and reports are generated based on how errors affect users’ experience. (12)
Firebase ensures optimal security and availability of data with the help of regular backups. (13)
The apps are protected from any possibility of data loss by relying on the automatic backup feature of this platform.
Users of the Blaze plan can easily configure the Realtime Database for taking automatic backups. Clicking the Backups tab of Firebase Database gives one access to the auto-backup settings.
Although it’s a fantastic platform, Firebase also has some downsides.
- It’s not Open-Souce
- Vendor Lock-In
- Firebase does not work in many countries
- Only NoSQL databases are available
- Slow Queries
- Not all services are free to start
- It’s not cheap and pricing is difficult to forecast
- Runs only on Google Cloud
- Dedicated Servers & Enterprise Support are not an option
- Does not provide GraphQL APIs
Let’s explore the limitations of Firebase in more granularity below:
1. It’s not open-source
Firebase is not an open-source option for mobile application development, making it a suboptimal option for many developers.
Users are unable to modify Firebase source code due to it being closed-source. Many developers who like Firebase features end up using other platforms due to this limitation.
Although the platform is not open-source, it’s important to emphasize that many libraries and SDKs are available on GitHub. (14)
This may be the largest limitation of Firebase and prevents the community from improving the product, increasing the flexibility levels and self-hosting options for developers that cannot afford Firebase pricing.
Please refer to the article Firebase Open-Source Alternatives for options that do not work with proprietary technologies.
2. Vendor Lock-In
Another major deterrent to using Firebase is the fact that it has vendor lock-in.
It is a significant issue that stops some developers from opting for the platform. Not having access to source code can be quite difficult for some developers.
In particular, for large apps, moving out to other vendors is not an easy task, and to make this move, the entire backend would need to be rebuilt from scratch.
3. Firebase does not work in many countries
Firebase is a subdomain from Google, and the official website is https://firebase.google.com and blocked in many countries.
Google is blocked and can’t be reached in countries like China, along with other Google services, because China has obstructed the URIs with *.google.com and *.googleapis.com.
For a complete list of countries, please refer to the Transparency Report. (15)
4. Works only with NoSQL Databases
Both Firebase database options, Firestore and Firebase Realtime Database, offer a NoSQL structure, and there is no option to use a relational database. (16, 17)
- Complex Queries
Another challenge users face with NoSQL database is the implementation of complex queries.
Although Firebase made significant improvements on Cloud Firestore in comparison to the RTDB, running complex queries is still a challenge for certain users.
The example above extracted from StackOverflow delineates the challenges faced by a user moving from Parse to Firebase. (18)
Examples of the user’s issues are related to filtering, combining filters, and combining multiple queries.
Even though there is a solution for this situation and a user can craft complex with Firebase, the implementation may not simple for a beginner using the platform.
There is an interesting thread on StackOverflow that discusses how Firebase Realtime Database handles ACID properties. (19)
Even though it will support transactions, developers will have to execute their own code, unlike a traditional relational database, causing their systems to be more complicated. (20)
- Data Migration is not easy as using a SQL database
According to the article 5 Reasons Not to Use Firebase, with Firebase, a user can’t deal quickly with data-migration similar to a simple SQL database.
Firebase uses JSON, and there are virtually no SQL features, so migrating from the database will not be as easy.
5. Slow Queries
Not all databases are ideal for all use cases, and Cloud Firestore is no exception.
Although it’s a fantastic solution to scale your apps, provide offline query support and real-time updates, it has limitations as well. (21)
Some examples are:
- Write frequency limited to 1 per second;
- There is no native aggregation queries;
- Maximum API request size 10 MiB;
- Document size limit is 1 MiB;
- Maximum concurrent connections 1M;
- Query flexibility;
- Queries slow performance.
There are two great articles to read to know more about Firestore limitations. The first great post is The top 10 things to know about Firestore when choosing a database for your app and the second one Why is my Cloud Firestore query slow.
6. Not all Firebase services are free to start
Although most of the services are available under the Spark Plan, there are some exceptions to this rule. Examples are Cloud Functions and Machine Learning. (7)
Cloud Functions are only available on the Blaze Plan, and a user cannot try the service under the Spark Plan.
It’s important to emphasize a free quota for Cloud Functions, but charges will happen under the Blaze Plan as soon as the user exceeds the free limit.
The second example of service not available under the Spark Plan is Cloud Vision APIs under the Machine Learning feature. This service is only available to Blaze Plan users and charges $1.5/k APIs.
7. It’s expensive and pricing is hard to predict
Firebase is a feature-rich mobile application development platform but also an expensive one for some. It does offer a free plan, but that comes with some restrictions.
It is a reason why many developers end up settling for self-hosting applications with options like Digital Ocean, AWS, or Google Cloud.
Firebase adds value on top of a pure IaaS provider, but the convenience comes at a price. Generally speaking, self-hosting an application will be cheaper than using Firebase. (22)
So, before going for Firebase, please make sure you correctly compare the upfront costs of setting a cluster at an IaaS provider and the on-going costs (servers + additional engineering costs) of maintaining the servers versus running the application directly on Firebase.
The other aspect that makes Firebase expensive is that it is a proprietary technology, requiring a return on the engineering investment. On the other hand, open-source technologies can use the power of community-based development and deliver more affordable solutions.
Firebase provides services in a usage-based pricing model, and it is hard to cap pricing. There are no fixed pricing plans for the platform, and keeping track of resource usage can be a hassle.
Estimating the costs of Firebase can prove to be difficult for some users, especially when the scalability requirements cannot be predicted. The pricing is complicated, and Firebase has specific pricing for every feature.
Keeping the costs under a threshold can be quite challenging with the platform, and there is no easy way to cap or put hard limits on the bill.
With that said, there are ways of setting budgets, usage alerts, and even explicitly capping the number of requests thanks to Google Cloud integration. However, they require you to go beyond Firebase and are a bit complex to set up.
To best manage your spending, you should use Firebase features optimally. Examples include optimizing your Cloud Function code for quicker runtimes and correctly deciding between RTDB and Firestore. For example, use RTDB to handle small but high-throughput data and Firestore for larger data sets or when requiring complex querying.
In the past, Firebase used to offer the Flame plan. That was a fixed price $25/month plan, but it was retired in January 2020. (23, 24)
The change in the pricing structure caused inconveniences for some users, and the movement to the Pay as you go increased the charges in some situations. To know more about this topic, please read the article Firebase Costs Increased by 7,000%!.
Please note that not necessarily a usage-based structure is bad! Most IaaS providers like AWS or Azure use this principle as well.
On the positive side, it will charge you exactly the resources you consume and provide a greater level of granularity.
Please make sure you understand how the billing works before committing to this model and monitor your costs regularly to avoid unexpected charges by the end of the month.
8. Runs only on Google Cloud
Firebase is now a part of Google, and its infrastructure runs entirely on the Google Cloud. (25)
There is no option to run Firebase on other cloud providers like AWS, Azure, or Digital Ocean.
Firebase limits the level of flexibility in terms of hosting options. Firebase does not provide server-level access, and problems may arise if customizing server settings is necessary.
9. Lack of Dedicated Servers and Enterprise Contracts
Firebase users do not have the option of dedicated servers or enterprise contracts. (23)
Not providing dedicated servers is a significant limitation. The only way to use Firebase is over a serverless structure that offers less flexibility than a fully dedicated cluster structure.
Also, sharing resources may not deliver optimal performance due to noisy neighbors.
A serverless environment is an excellent option for apps, that workload fluctuates over time. For instance, peaks and valleys during the day or the week.
Imagine a restaurant booking app; a serverless environment will work fine for this app because it will guarantee all server resources are allocated automatically during the peak periods on Friday/Saturday night.
On the other hand, several applications’ workload will not fluctuate that much but may require tailor-made security settings or some server-level access. A serverless structure will not be adequate for this scenario, and dedicated hosting a more suitable option.
Firebase does not offer enterprise pricing plans, contracts, or assistance, which is a significant issue for many potential users. However, the Blaze plan can be considered a suitable option for the need of developers with enterprise-level needs.
10. Does not provide GraphQL APIs
Firebase does not provide GraphQL APIs as part of the standard setup. Although there are workarounds for GraphQL implementation with Firebase, REST is still the platform’s default option.
To know more about GraphQL and Firebase, please check this question on StackOverflow. (26)
Firebase offers a free and a usage-based plan for its users. However, there is no fixed and uniformly priced plan for users to pick up and get started. (7)
|The Spark Plan of Firebase is available for free, with 10 GB hosting, SSL, multiple websites, custom domain, and several other offerings. |
It has some useful features like Firebase ML, Realtime Database, Cloud Firestore, and Test Lab.
These are some of the options one can avail with the Firebase Spark Plan.
(Pay as you go)
|The Blaze Plan from Firebase is available under a pay as you go, flexible pricing model. |
It comes with all Spark Plan features along with some extra ones to improve the development experience.
With this plan, users have to pay $0.026/GB for hosting and the same for every GB of storage.
Many of the Spark Plan restrictions are lifted with the Firebase Blaze plan.
The Blaze Plan calculator available on the Firebase website can be a handy tool for calculating the estimated costs.
The Free plan has some restrictions and, for example, does not give developers access to Cloud Functions.
Blaze is the pay as you go pricing plan with segmented pricing for different feature sets, i.e., Cloud Firestore, Cloud Functions, Authentication, Hosting, Firebase ML, Realtime Database, and Storage.
- Firebase Always Free Services
Firebase is generous with its array of Always Free services that help many developers get started with their application development projects.
These services can be availed free of costs regardless of what plan one opts for. Take a look at the different services being offered on the platform as ‘always free’.
- App delivery for testers.
- App indexing to let search engines index applications
- Different user-specific app version deployments for A/B testing
- App performance prediction and reports
- Active app customer interaction through integrated messaging
- Automatic notifications and user messaging across Android, iOS, and web apps with Firebase Cloud messages.
- Firebase app performance monitoring
- Application crash detection with Firebase Crashlytics
- User redirection across different platforms using dynamic links
- Remote application function customizations
- Firebase Machine Learning components enable predictions to inform about returning application users.
- Firebase Paid Services
The Firebase console’s Usage tab can be accessed for checking plan payment status and usage-related data for different Firebase services.
- Storage tab— The Storage tab exhibits the total amount of data within a database, other than the data that is stored across other Firebase offerings.
- Connections tab— The Connections tab contains information regarding the total number of real-time connections including WebSockets.
- Load tab— This tab contains graphical displays of application loads and exhibits this data to users in a designated amount of time.
- Downloads tab— It contains information related to the total volume of data downloaded from a database.
For more information about Firebase pricing, please read Google Firebase Pricing for Dummies.
Firebase feeds service data to Google for non-Firebase services. This option is selected by default; to avoid it; users must uncheck the box.
Firebase has a wide array of advanced features for the needs of developers. (27)
What is Firebase app? Its key features can be categorized under Build, Release & Monitor and Engage. Firebase as a backend is utilized across different stages of mobile application development.
|Build||– Databases (Firestore + RTDB)|
– Cloud Functions
|Release & Monitor||– Crashlytics |
– Performance Monitoring
– Test Lab
– App distributions
|Engage||– Remote Config|
– A/B Testing
– Dynamic Links
– In-App Messaging
Firebase Build Features
Build is an expansive feature set of Firebase with various components that enable developers to stay on top of their application development requirements.
These include two different databases and several other features for data storage, handling, authentication, and machine learning.
The Firebase platform’s two databases are Cloud Firestore and Realtime Database, which are both useful tools for modern application development requirements.
Cloud Firestore, also known as Google Firestore, is a component of the Firebase mobile application development platform.
It is fundamentally a cloud-based NoSQL database for data storage and synchronization. Firebase users can access Firestore from the mobile or web applications via native SDKs.
Cloud Firestore can be utilized with various programming languages like Unity, C++, Java, Node.js SDKs, and support for REST APIs and RPC. The Firestore database from Firebase is geared towards offering optimal performance, reliability, automatic scaling, and benchmark usability.
To know more about Firestore, please read the article What is Google Firestore. (28)
Firebase Realtime Database is a cloud-hosted database. It facilitates JSON-based data storage and performs real-time data synchronization with connected clients.
It lets applications receive the latest updates and data. Offline applications are able to remain responsive because the Database SDK carries out on-disk data persistence. It helps to sync devices to present server states following the restoration of connectivity. (29)
To know more about the differences between Cloud Firestore and The Realtime Database, please read the article Firestore vs. Realtime Database.
- Machine Learning
Firebase ML refers to a mobile SDK that harnesses the power of Google machine learning and implements the same to the iOS and Android applications through a convenient package. (30)
Utilizing machine learning functionality with Firebase ML is quite suitable for anyone regardless of their experience level. You do not need to possess in-depth knowledge of aspects like model optimization or neural networks. Seasoned developers can use the Firebase ML Kit APIs for utilizing mobile application TensorFlow Lite models.
For more information about Firebase ML, please read the article What is Firebase Machine Learning?.
- Cloud Functions
This reduces the requirement for scaling and managing servers. For more information about Cloud Functions, please read the article What is Firebase Cloud Functions?.
Authentication is a Firebase feature offering ready-to-use UI libraries, backends, and convenient SDKs for user application authentication. Authentication is supported through phone numbers, passwords, and providers such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others. (32)
Authentication enjoys integration with different Firebase services, and it makes use of OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0 and allows custom backend integration.
Fore more information about Firebase authentication, please read the article What is Firebase Authentication?.
- Cloud Messaging
Firebase Cloud Messaging or FCM refers to a cross-platform message service for free-of-cost messaging. This feature enables app owners to notify client apps if and when data or emails are to be synced. (33)
FCM lets app owners send notifications to boost retention and engage users. Cloud Messaging facilitates payload transfers of up to 4kb for instant messaging cases.
For more information about FCM, please read the article What is Firebase Cloud Messaging?.
Firebase has various scalable and agile hosting features for Microservices, web apps, and several other content types. Content can be hosted across different categories, and users have the ability to avail SSL protection and single-click rollbacks. (34)
For more information about Firebase Web Hosting, please read the article What is Firebase Hosting?.
- Cloud Storage
The Cloud Storage feature of Firebase is a service for storing application development resources, including objects. Users gain access to Google-level upload and download security with this feature, and it is suitable for storing media files and user content. (35)
To know more about Firebase Storage, please read the article Firebase Storage.
- Emulator Suite
To facilitate the integration and testing of all the mentioned features, Firebase provides the Local Emulator Suite. This allows developers to test their code without inducing additional costs.
The Emulator Suite currently provides emulators for Authentication, Cloud Functions, Firestore, RTDB, hosting, and Google Cloud Pub/Sub, with more coming. There’s also a built-in UI similar to the one you’d find in the actual Firebase Console.
Alongside other prototyping and testing tools such as Cloud Functions shell and Firebase Test SDK, Emulator Suite is great for implementing all kinds of manual or automated tests.
Firebase Release & Monitor Features
Release & Monitor is a collection of Firebase features to prepare developers for the much-anticipated application launch. It comes with an array of testing, analytical, and distribution tools to ensure smooth application experiences for users.
Crashlytics is Firebase’s realtime crash reporter that enables developers to track issues, prioritizing them, and addressing them. The Crashlytics feature can be used to prevent possible stability issues. (36)
To know more about this tool, please read the article What is Crashlytics.
Firebase users can utilize the features of Google Analytics, which is integrated with Firebase. Users can use Analytics for performing unlimited reporting for multiple Firebase SDK events. Developers can make better decisions by analyzing user behavior with Analytics. (37)
To better understand the differences between Firebase Analytics and Google Analytics, please read Firebase Analytics vs. Google Analytics.
- Performance Monitoring
Firebase Performance Monitoring is a service that helps you to gain insight into the performance characteristics of your iOS, Android, and web apps. (38)
You use the Performance Monitoring SDK to collect performance data from your app. It helps you understand where and when your app’s performance can be improved so that you can use that information to fix performance issues.
- Test Lab
Firebase Test Lab is a cloud infrastructure for application testing. It lets users test their iOS and Android applications with an operation across many devices and different device configurations. (39)
Users can also see results, including screenshots, logs, and videos in the Firebase console.
- App Distribution
Firebase App Distribution is a feature that offers a comprehensive view of a user’s beta testing program across the Android and iOS platforms. Users can receive useful feedback before the production phase of a new release. (40)
A user can send early versions of applications using CI servers or a console. Application installations also become easier for testers.
Firebase Engage Features
Engage is the Firebase feature set that lets app owners and development teams reach out and engage customers. It has several advanced tools for enhancing the user engagement process.
- Remote Config
Remote Config refers to a cloud solution that enables users to modify applications’ behavior and appearance without updating them. Users can also create default in-application values for app behavior and appearance maintenance. (41)
Firebase Predictions is a useful feature that takes advantage of machine learning for data to develop dynamic user segments based on behaviors. Automatic predictions can be availed with Firebase Remote Config, In-App Messaging, A/B Testing, and the Firebase Notifications composer. (42)
- A/B Testing
A/B Testing is a Firebase feature that helps developers deliver better app user experiences by improving app management, scaling, and analysis. Users can quickly test modifications made to UIs, features, and campaigns before app launches. (43)
- Dynamic Links
Firebase Dynamic Links are smart URLs that let application managers direct both potential and current users to different parts of Android or iOS applications. This feature can work without being affected by the installation, and it lets new users access content when an app gets launched initially. (44)
- In-App Messaging
In-App Messaging is a Firebase feature for engaging active app users using contextual messaging. Users can carry out specific in-app actions for accessing different features or unlocking certain offerings. (45)
Although Firebase is an excellent platform for app development, many alternatives are equally remarkable. If you are looking for a Firebase alternative in 2022, here are the options we recommend.
Back4App is a widely-used open-source platform and operates as a low-code backend to accelerate app development.
It is a highly functional and feature-rich option that fulfills the needs of many app developers. The Back4App platform facilitates easy development, hosting, and management of applications and is a reliable option for hosting web, mobile, and IoT apps.
With this Firebase alternative, users can take advantage of a database that enables fast and efficient data update and syncing. Developers can use both GraphQL and REST APIs and take advantage of live queries for instantaneous data storage and sync.
Backendless is a well-known mobile backend as a service with various robust application development and management tools.
It gives users the options of dedicated, cloud, and managed servers to suit different development requirements.
The Backendless database lets developers rely on caching for enhancing application speed. It also allows users to perform centralized log file management to improve application efficiency.
Geolocation is another handy feature for developing apps that work with location awareness.
AWS Amplify is an offering with many features for the development of AWS full-stack applications. It is preferred for mobile and front-end development projects.
One of its standout features is Analytics, suitable for figuring out user behaviors, and it also has convenient metrics and auto-tracking. AWS Amplify’s push notifications help to improve engagement and make customer targeting better.
Users can also benefit from the syncing and storage features of the platform.
Parse is the leading open-source backend framework since 2016 and provides a comprehensive set of features like a spreadsheet-like database, APIs, Notifications, Authentication, and Storage.
Kinvey is a serverless application development platform for multichannel application development, and it works through a cloud backend and SDKs.
This serverless backend lays the focus on app functions and delivering quality user experiences.
It has code sharing for cross-platform applications and facilitates easy management of code. Kinvey can be a preferred choice for angular development and gives users access to native APIs.
To know more about Firebase’s competitive landscape, please read the article Firebase Alternatives.
This article explained Firebase, its advantages, downsides, pricing structure, core features, and best alternative platforms.
Firebase is Google’s mobile app development platform. Its advantages include an end-to-end development environment, faster time to market to create apps, and scalable infrastructure. Although it’s a fantastic product, Firebase has downsides. It’s a closed-source platform, has vendor lock-in, and only provides NoSQL databases.
Pricing wise Firebase operates under two different plans. The first one is Spark that provides a generous free tier and encompasses most of Firebase features. The paid plan is called Blaze and works under a usage-based model and charges the application based on the used workload.
Firebase divides its features into three main categories; Build, Release & Monitor, and Engage. These are all employed across various stages of an app development cycle.
There is plenty of competitors to Firebase, and the more prominent ones are Back4app, Backendless, AWS Amplify, Kinvey, and Parse.
Hopefully, this article will help you to understand Firebase better and make an informed decision to use or not this service.
What is Firebase?
Firebase is Google’s mobile app development platform. Its advantages include an end-to-end development environment, faster time to market to create apps, and scalable infrastructure.
What are Firebase core features?
The core features encompass database management, file storage, cloud code, analytics, scalable hosting and machine learning.