We compare the mobile backend services that Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) provide in their respective cloud environments.
- Database (Firebase slightly better because of real time database updates through web sockets)
- Serverless routines
- Push notification
- Analytics (Firebase more powerful)
- Offline support
- App indexing (show results from the app in Google search on Android)
- Deep-links (open website urls in the app)
- Crash reporting
- Performance monitoring
- Remote configuration of apps (change settings on the backend rather than updating the app)
- A/B testing
- Fast implementation and solid documentation
- Traffic based cost (AWS is based on API calls, traffic and push notifications)
We are running some 100+ apps on Firebase for just about the cost of traffic. Development is super fast - as you only need an SDK and no backend development.
Not using Firebase for analytics, deep-links, crash reporting, performance monitoring, remote configuration and A/B testing is - in our humble opinion - comparable to coding with pen and paper. Implementing, testing and maintaining those features with alternatives adds 10,000 - 50.000€ to any app project.
Our largest apps have millions of active users, and over the last four years since we have been using Firebase we were not experiencing a single outage.
Firebase also acquired Crashlytics (the leading crash reporting and error tool from Twitter) and is building Firebase Analytics on the backbone of Google Analytics with export to BigQuery.
Firebase is also heavily investing in features around A/B testing, machine learning (like predictive targeting) and CRM.
The UI is intuitive enough that we have non-devs working them to send push notifications, change configurations or run experiments.
Unfortunately, Firebase with its SDK-based approach does not offer any logs, monitoring or out of the box error reporting. We usually opt for our custom build backend APIs for auth, data and storage running on Google App Engine.
Some companies are concerned with security and GDRP considerations. AWS is stronger here with their stronger and more fine-grained control on locations. However, Firebase has been approved by the IT, data protection and internal compliance departments of all of our clients including a couple of DAX companies and even leading German newspaper and magazine publishers.
- Offline support - Can be build natively at high cost
- In-App-Messaging - Mixpanel
- Crash reporting - Instabug or Testfairy
- Performance monitoring - New Relic
- Remote configuration of apps - Can be build on APIs
- A/B testing - Mixpanel, Optimizly