Firebase Summit 2020: Google announces new capabilities to aid developers

The event featured a number of new features to enhance app development, organize data, assess user engagement, and more.

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Image: iStock/sarinyapinngam

On Tuesday, Google kicked off Firebase Summit 2020 to discuss the latest news about its mobile development platform, Firebase. This year, the two-day event is being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amid the planned demonstrations, live question-and-answer sessions, technical sessions, and more, Google announced a number of new Firebase capabilities designed with developers and app users in mind.

"With these improvements to Firebase, we aim to make app development faster and easier so you can stay focused on creating the amazing app experiences that people need to stay productive, connected, and entertained, especially during these strange times. People are relying on your apps to adapt and thrive in our changing world. You can rely on us to build, operate, and scale successful apps— in 2020 and beyond," said Francis Ma, product director at Firebase in a blog post shared prior to the event.

Performance Monitoring dashboard

Google detailed new capabilities allowing developers to further optimize their apps with users in mind. Firebase Performance Monitoring provides a wide range of app data and user metrics to help developers monitor their apps, however, as Ma notes, the tool details "so much information it can be hard to focus on what's important."

To help provide this information in a more user-friendly capacity, Google introduced a Performance Monitoring dashboard. This dashboard is customizable allowing developers to arrange the metrics in a way that more aptly suits their needs. Individuals can leverage a maximum of six metrics on the dashboard at a given time and these can be added or removed as needed.

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Google Analytics APIs

On Tuesday, Google announced three APIs (Google Analytics 4 Measurement Protocol, Data API, and Admin API) to enhance Firebase Google Analytics integration and give developers more control over this data.

Using programmatic access to Google Analytics, Data API allows developers to use their reporting data to create custom dashboards, per Google. Using Admin API, developers are able to configure their Google Analytics account and set various user permissions. Google Analytics 4 Measurement Protocol enables developers to directly log events in Google Analytics. Ma, of Firebase, detailed a use-case for these capabilities.

"This is especially useful for developers who want to augment their client-side data, with point-of-sale systems for example, so they can make server-to-server calls to gain new insights," Ma said in the release.

Detect Online Presence

At Firebase Summit 2019, Google announced nine new prepackaged extensions solutions to streamline app production. On Tuesday, the company announced Detect Online Presence, a new extension designed to help developers identify users and devices online at a given time. A developer who has created a social or gaming app can use Detect Online Presence to alert these users when a friend or contact is online "for a friendly match or chat," Ma explained, detailing a situational use-case leveraging the new extension.

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Imported segments enabled

Google also launched BigQuery imported segments capabilities and this means developers can now use Cloud Messaging, In-App Messaging, and Remote Config to target custom segments.

To access this feature, users will need to create their custom segment, import this into their BigQuery data set, and this will allow Firebase to read this data, making these segments readily available for targeting purposes Ma explained before detailing a specific developer scenario.

"If you have an e-commerce app and a physical storefront, you can import data from offline sources—like your store—and send those users an in-app promotion with In-App Messaging," Ma said.

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