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What's New in Firebase? Updates From the Firebase Dev Summit

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Firebase's goal is to help developers build better apps and grow them into successful businesses. By taking care of your app back-end or infrastructure, Firebase lets you focus on solving problems for your users. The new features announced at the Firebase Dev Summit this November were centered around Crash Reporting, Analytics, and support for game developers. In this article, I will give you a breakdown of what was announced and how to get started with these tools. 

Firebase Crash Reporting

Since it was released at Google I/O, this has been a beta product. But Firebase Crash Reporting is now out of beta! These are the new updates that come with the full release of Firebase Crash Reporting.

  • Improved user workflow: You can now mark errors as fixed and track which ones were fixed by you. 
  • Email alerts: You can now get an email notification whenever a new crash happens. You can get notification of new issues or issues that have resurfaced after having been fixed. 
  • Instant reporting: Previously, any time a crash happened on your user's device, it would take about 20 minutes to show on the dashboard. But now you can get the report instantly.
  • Detailed insight with Analytics: Instead of just showing the errors, you can now see the context in which it happened. For example, if you have an app where an error occurred when your user was creating his/her profile, you can use Firebase Analytics to gain insight into what led to this crash. 

Check out our article on Firebase Crash Reporting here on Envato Tuts+ if you are new to Firebase Crash Reporting. 

Firebase Test Lab for Android

At its I/O developers conference about six months ago, Google announced the launch of Firebase Test Lab. With this feature, you can test your app on a wide range of devices and configurations before shipping the final product. This gives you a detailed test result at the end. So what's new? Firebase Test Lab now has:

  • Eleven new device models. 
  • Ability to test your app on the latest version of Android (currently 7.1).
  • Ability to run five free tests per day on physical devices and ten free tests per day on virtual devices.

Visit the official guide to get started. 

Firebase UI Library

This is an open-source UI library that provides common UI elements when building apps. This library draws on the best practices that Google has learnt over the years. Firebase UI has now been launched as version 1.0. 

With this library, you get UI flow for Firebase Authentication, client-side joins and intersections for Realtime Database, as well as integrations with Glide (an open-source image-loading library for Android) that make downloading and displaying images from Firebase Storage a piece of cake. All these integrations help bootstrap your app's UI experience. The library is available for Android, IOS, and Web

To learn more about these other parts of Firebase, check out our articles on Firebase File Storage, Firebase authentication, and the Firebase Realtime Database here on Envato Tuts+.

Firebase Analytics

Firebase Analytics now has an integration with Google Data Studio, a service that turns your data into informative dashboards and reports that are easy to read, easy to share, and fully customizable. (Note that Google Data Studio is still in beta.) You can now also export to BigQuery in real time from Analytics. Not only that, but the connection between Firebase Dynamic Links and Analytics has been improved, so that if you use Dynamic link on your Facebook page, Analytics will detect the source as Facebook on the Analytics dashboard. 

Unity Plugin for Firebase

An exciting announcement for game developers: Firebase now has a Unity3D plugin and an enhanced C++ SDK. (Most high-quality Android games are still built with C++.) This new feature also opens up some of the core Firebase functionalities such as AdMob, Analytics, Authentication, Realtime Database, Invites and Dynamic Links, Cloud Messaging and Remote Config for use in your game. The Firebase documentation has more information on how to add Firebase to your Unity setup

Although it was not announced at the Firebase Dev Summit, you should also know that Google Play Services and Firebase will require API level 14 at a minimum starting from early 2017. The next release of these libraries (version 10.2.0) will increase the minimum supported API level from 9 to 14. So when building your app now, it is recommended to set your minimum SDK to be API level 14. 

Conclusion

In this article, I told you about the new Firebase features that were announced at the Firebase Dev Summit in Berlin. Firebase has been working to make it easier for developers to code awesome apps, by taking care of the infrastructure and back-end for them. With these additional new features, the developer's job will be easier and faster. 

Meanwhile, check out some of our other courses and tutorials on mobile development!

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