Firebase Overview – Google I/O 2016

Welcome to this summary of the Firebase Overview talk by Firebase product leads James Tamplin and Francis Maat Google I/O 2016.

The full talk is available on YouTube and lasts 43 minutes.

Firebase was acquired by Google in 2014, and has retained it’s brand.

Francis says they’ve seen incredible growth over the last year and a half, and now over 450,000 developers are using Firebase.

The three features powering this growth have been developer Backend Services:

Developer Backend Services

  1. Realtime database
  2. Authentication
  3. Hosting

A number of new features have since been added:

Cloud Messaging

App Quality Services

Test Lab for Android
Crash Reporting

Grow your userbase


Dynamic Links

Re-Engagement tools


Earn money

In-App ads

Francis begins the demo at (4:24) showing us the new Firebase console.

We see that it is very easy to add Firebase to an iOS app using a wizard. There are four steps:

  1. Enter the bundle ID and click Add App.
  2. A config file is created for us. Copy that config into our IDE.
  3. Install pod using CocoaPods
  4. Add initialization code

With this done we get the basic integration with Firebase Analytics. This is basically Google Analytics for mobile apps and is free and unlimited.

We see statistics for Bingo Blast, an Android and iOS game.

We also see the Audiences tab, and Francis creates a new audience “Canadian Purchasers”. Any future app buyer from Canada automatically get categorized here.

Other tabs demoed are attribution, funnels and cohorts. To learn Firebase Analytics in detail you can watch Use Firebase Analytics to Build Extraordinary Apps – Google I/O 2016.

James takes the stage and explains the backend services:

Firebase Authentication

This is an Authentication and account management system that supports emails and passwords, social providers and existing authentication systems.


Realtime Database

This is a cloud hosted NoSQL database.

Realtime Database


This is backed by a CDN, serving static assets and using SSL by default. You can now bring your own custom domain to Firebase hosting for free.



This handles poor connectivity and is backed by and accessible from Google Cloud Storage.

James demonstrates this at (16:07), taking a photo and uploading it to Google Cloud.


Remote Config

James demonstrates this using Bingo Blast as an example at (17:20).

Apparently Canadian purchasers are way too good at Bingo, so he creates a new condition:

Name: Canadian Purchases
Applies if: User in audience
App ID:
Audience: Canadian Purchases

Then he adjusts the settings so the game is harder for them.

Remote Config

Test Lab for Android

This used to be called Firebase Test Lab. Allows testing on the most popular devices before you ship. Reports & screenshots. Robo and custom tests.

Test Lab

Crash Reporting

See crashes and impacts, version & OS drill-down, integrated into Analytics.

Crash Reporting


We see the Robo test demonstration initially fails. It doesn’t upload the Bingo APK. However James shows one he made earlier.

We see the Activity map for this. We can get screenshots from the test device, and a video of test lab in action.

We get logs and can filter by errors, warnings and info. We see the various crash statistics.

Integrations to Google Services

Google Play

Firebase is integrated with Google Play. In-app purchases are sent to Firebase analytics. Application Not Responding events are sent to Firebase Crash Reporting.

Google Cloud

Google Cloud Storage can be fetched from Firebase as well as Google Cloud. James says there will be much more of this in the future. Lightweight compute will be coming to Firebase.


Francis takes over the stage again at (23:35) and begins describing high friction user experiences. This could be reduced if hyperlinks were smart enough to tell which platform the user is on.

Dynamic Links

This provides a single URL that you can configure where you send your users on the fly.

It works across platforms and preserves URL states even through app install flow. This also works with Analytics Insights.



A drop-in widget for app sharing. Users can share the app through SMS or Email.

Recipient suggestions come from Google, and it’s built on Dynamic Links.



Universal app campaigns. Audience targeting, conversion tracking and optimization.

Google ads have driven over 2 billion app installs to date.


Re-Engagement: App Indexing

Get your app indexed through Google Search



This is built on Google Cloud messaging which is now rebranded as Firebase Cloud Messaging.

Firebase Notifications has a simple UI and is accessible through the console.

Francis demonstrates this at (32:50)



Display Ads on your app. This could be setup so that it only shows to users not making in-app purchases.


Case Studies

At 36 mins in we see a couple of promotional videos.

These tell the story of companies NPR One and Is.

Further Reading

There’s many ways to learn more about Firebase. Probably the easiest way is to subscribe to their YouTube channel.



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