Google's Firebase Gains Gaming And Analytics Tools

Google is pushing a significant update to its Firebase platform in order to make the backend-as-a-service even more useful for developers. The refreshed platform targets game developers and tosses in new crash reporting and analytics enhancements for good measure. 

Firebase was a major focal point at Google's I/O developer conference in May. The company pushed the BaaS as the perfect one-stop-shop for Android, iOS, and Web development, and claims since May that 750,000 projects have been created in Firebase. Google is now delivering the first update to Firebase post I/O. 

Game developers have good reason to be happy. Firebase now has a Unity plugin. Google says it built an entirely new Unity plugin that supports Analytics, the Realtime Database, Authentication, Dynamic Links, Remote Config, Notifications and more. Google also expanded its C++ SDK with Realtime Database support. These tools should help smooth over game development. 

Firebase's Test Lab includes more devices and introduces a free tier. The Test Lab lets developers test their apps on both physical and virtual devices in the cloud without requiring any test code. Responding to developer feedback, Google added a swath of 11 new Android device models to Test Lab. Google didn't say which devices it added, but they are all available today. Google says developers on the (free) Spark service tier can now run up to five tests per day on physical devices, or up to 10 tests per day on virtual devices. Google won't ask for credit cards, either. 

On the analytics front the refreshed Firebase makes a wide number of improvements. 

To start, Firebase Crash Reporting now shows Firebase Analytics event data in the logs for each crash. Google says this gives developers more clarity into the status of their app in the run-up to a crash or error. Bonus: No instrumentation code is required. 

Google took care to improve the number of connections Firebase Analytics has with other Firebase tools. For example, Firebase Analytics now offers live reporting and will work seamlessly with Google's Data Studio for real-time exporting to BigQuery. The revised DebugView can help validate analytics instrumentation, and StreamView will offer a live, dynamic view of analytics data as it is received by Google. It also lets developers use Dynamic Links on their Facebook business page and can indentify Facebook as a source. 

"We know that your data is most actionable when you can see and process it as quickly as possible," said Firebase Manager Francis Ma in a blog post

Last, FirebaseUI now takes advantage of an open-sourced user interface library. Google says the FirebaseUI library offers a wide array of drop-in UI elements to ease the process of designing and developing apps. The FirebaseUI hooks into the new Analytics tools, as well, allowing developers to see how user interface elements impact the Realtime Database. It can even work with Glide and SDWebImage to download and display images from Firebase Storage. 

"Helping developers build better apps and successful businesses is at the core of Firebase," concluded Ma. 

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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