What is Firebase used for?

Firebase is a Backend as a Service (BaaS) offering from Google that comes with many managed services. It’s easy to integrate and, in many cases, can easily replace custom backends.

Key Takeaways

  • Build, Release & Monitor are the three product categories of Firebase
  • You can use Firebase to develop web, Android, iOS apps
  • Use cases include chat apps, onboarding flows, ads, content sharing

Firebase core functionalities

Firebase products come in three categories – BuildRelease & Monitor, and Engage. Each category consists of a different set of products and corresponds to a different stage of development.

Build

In the Build category, you’ll find services forming the backbone of Firebase. These are NoSQL databases – JSON-based Realtime Database (RTDB), and it’s a newer document-centric alternative called Cloud Firestore. The article Firebase Databases provides a in depth explanation about the diferences.

Other than that, there’s also static site HostingCloud Storage for storing and serving user-generated content, Authentication for managing user accounts and integrating social sign-in, Cloud Functions for running serverless JavaScript code in the cloud, and a few more.

Release & Monitor

This category includes tools to distribute, analyze and configure your products and is primarily aimed at mobile app developers.

Here, you’ll find monitoring tools such as integrated Google AnalyticsCrashlytics, and Performance Monitoring. Apart from that, Test Lab and App Distribution will help you test your app on virtual or physical devices in the cloud and distribute it to your test users, respectively.

Engage

Lastly, tools such as Cloud and In-App Messaging, together with Dynamic Links, will help you engage more with your users through notifications, in-app links, and content sharing.

Furthermore, with A/B Testing and Remote Config, you’ll be able to test out new features – even the ones based on future foresight from Machine Learning (ML) Predictions.

Firebase use cases

With all of its products, you can use Firebase in a multitude of apps for the web, Android, and iOS. Firestore or RTDB, paired with Authentication and Cloud Functions, can serve as a solid backend for most apps.

With that said, with the right selection of products, Firebase can also allow you to implement features and experiences that would otherwise be impossible without weeks or even months of additional backend development. Let’s take a look at some Firebase use cases examples.

Custom onboarding flow

Starting with a combination of Authentication, Remote Config, and Google Analytics, you can develop a custom onboarding flow, boosting the user experience.

Not only will the user be able to log in with one of their favorite OAuth providers (like Google, Apple, or Facebook), but also offered tailored experiences with just a few adjustments in Remote Config.

You could then gather relevant data through Analytics to customize the experience further within a given session or even when the user returns after a while.

Progressive feature roll-out

Going further with the Remote Config use cases, you can also utilize it to roll out features other than the onboarding flow. For example, you could target your most active users through Analytics, then send them invitations to join your testers group through Cloud Messaging.

When the user accepts the offer, just toggle the relevant setting in Remote Config and potentially perform other tasks with Cloud Functions. With that, the user will have immediate access to the feature without needing to update the app.

Multi-device support

The power of Analytics extends across devices – everywhere the user’s logged in. Thanks to the Authentication, as well as RTDB or Firestore and their real-time sync, implementing high-quality multi-devices experiences will be a breeze!

On top of that, with Analytics, you’ll have a complete image of how and where your app is used. This data could then be used to prioritize user experience on certain frontends, thus further optimizing the user engagement.

Built-in chat

Chats are essential to users not only in social apps but also for contact with the support, asking product-related questions, and many more. With that said, it’s no surprise that Firebase allows you to build a chat widget or whole app very easily.

How could that work? With Authentication, you could quickly identify and connect relevant users. Then, with RTDB or Firestore and their real-time sync, implementing the core text chat or even video with help from WebRTC couldn’t be simpler.

After that, just plug in Cloud Messaging for notifications, and you’re ready to go!

Content sharing

Building on the idea of chat, you can use Cloud Storage to allow for sharing content such as uploaded video, image, or audio files.

On top of that, with additional metadata and reference in Firestore or RTDB, you’ll have a clear view of who has rights to what files and thus, be able to give them proper management permissions.

However, images and video files can get quite large, and thus it’s important to compress them server-side. Thankfully, that’s easy with Cloud Functions. Simply watch for new files stored and process them if they cross a certain threshold.

Optimized ads

As Firebase is a Google platform, it integrates beautifully with Google’s advertising services, such as AdSense or AdMob.

With AdMob integration, you’ll be able to see and manage your ads quickly – whether it’s revenue, campaigns, or ad placement. Furthermore, leveraging Google Analytics and Remote Config Once again, you’ll be able to toggle certain ad banners on and off, depending on user’s interactions.

3rd-party services integrations

At this point, you probably already understand the potential of Cloud Functions. However, where they truly shine is when integrating with 3rd-party services.

Handling payments with Stripe or sending emails with Mailgun can easily be done with Cloud Functions. Beyond that, they can respond to various triggers such as HTTP calls, Webhooks, or events coming from other

Firebase services (Analytics, Cloud Storage, Firestore, etc.), making them highly versatile and able to handle many different tasks.

Referral system

For the last example, you can use Firebase to build a referral system. Whether that’s only through Cloud Functions and integration with 3rd-party service or from the ground-up with the help of Dynamic Links, accelerating your product’s growth through referrals is simple thanks to Firebase.

Summary

As you can see, Firebase has many use cases. From implementing simple features to integrating advanced 3rd-party APIs and handling complex apps – Firebase can do it all and so much more.

FAQ

What is Firebase?

Firebase is a Backend as a Service (BaaS) offering from Google that comes with many managed services.

What is Firebase used for?

Firebase products come in 3 categories – BuildRelease & Monitor, and Engage. Each category consists of a different set of products and corresponds to a different stage of development.

What are Firebase’s use cases?

– Custom onboarding flow
– Progressive feature roll-out
– Multi-device support
– Built-in chat
– Content sharing
– Optimized ads
– 3rd-party services integrations
– Referral system


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