Google Adds Version Testing Feature to Firebase Mobile Dev Platform

New Firebase feature will allow mobile app developers to better test different versions of their UI and application functions to determine the ones that perform the best.

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Google has added a new feature in its Firebase mobile app development platform that gives developers a way to test different versions of their application's user interface and functions with selected users to determine the ones that work best.

The new feature builds on the relatively simple app testing capability that has been available with Firebase up to now and makes it easier for developers to set up and measure sophisticated A/B tests, according to Google.

A/B tests allow organizations to compare two or more versions of web pages, applications or any other product among a randomly selected group of users to determine which version performs best.

The new testing capability works with an existing Remote Configuration feature in Firebase that lets developers change the appearance and behavior of a mobile application on the fly from a central console. Firebase supports Android and iOS app development.

"You can create an A/B test that will allow you to play with any combination of values that you can control through Remote Config," Google developer advocate Todd Kerpelman, wrote on the Firebase blog Nov. 6.

Users will be able to define how they want to run the testing by defining the specific values or features in their user interface or the app itself that they want to evaluate. They can use the Remote Config capability to specify how many variants to include, how many users to work with, and the overall testing goals.

Developers can use the new A/B testing function to test for different outcomes. For instance, they could conduct a test to see which app version has the best chance of increasing revenue or user retention. Or the goal could be to test different app versions to determine which configuration is likely to create the fewest crashes or to result in the most number of users finishing an in-app tutorial for instance, Kerpelman said.

Once the developer has been properly defined the test, Firebase automatically will deliver the different variations of the application being tested to randomly selected users. Firebase then measures how the different user groups interact with the different versions over a period of time to determine the one that appears to be performing better than the others.

The tests use the same statistical models that Google uses for its Google Optimize testing and personalization tool for website owners, according to Kerpelman.

In addition to testing the UI and other app features, developers will also be able to use the A/B testing feature to evaluate the effectiveness of different application notification messages. Such testing can be used to narrow down on the most effective messages for getting users to take some intended action such as starting an application or making a purchase.

The A/B testing capability is available to Firebase developers starting this week. Applications that are set up to use the Firebase remote configuration feature and optionally have the latest version of the Firebase Cloud Messaging feature should be able to immediately start working with new feature Kerpelman said.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.