Google Watch

The latest news bites emanating from the Googleplex.

Google to Acquire Twitter’s Mobile App Development Platform

Google has acquired Twitter's mobile application development platform Fabric and will merge it with its own Firebase development team as part of the Google Developer Products Group.

Google Fabric Acquisition 2

Google has agreed to acquire Fabric, Twitter’s application development platform for an undisclosed amount of cash.

Once the deal is approved, Fabric's team will join Google’s Developer Products Group and work with the company's Firebase application development platform team.

"Fabric and Firebase operate mobile platforms with unique strengths in the market today," Fabric’s vice president of engineering Rich Paret said in a blog announcing the planned acquisition. "We're excited to combine these platforms together to make the best mobile developer platform in the world for app teams."

Twitter announced Fabric in October 2014 as a modular platform for building mobile applications. The platform consists of multiple kits that are designed to help developers address mobile app stability issues as well as those pertaining to application distribution and revenue generation.

One of Fabric's most popular and downloaded products is Crashlytics, a kit, which according to Fabric, can help developers detect, access and fix bugs in their code much faster than other available tools.

Developers can use Crashlytics to isolate the root cause of a problem down to the exact line of code, according to Fabric. As part of the Crashlytics kit, Fabric includes a real-time app analytics component called Answers by Crashlytics and a separate user feedback component that allows developers to assess the overall health of an application.

By acquiring Fabric, Google will also gain access to a so-called Twitter Kit that developers can use to leverage Twitter for distributing mobile applications. The kit includes a native Tweet embedding capability that gives developers a way to place Tweets in their applications with a few lines of code. Also part of the Twitter kit is a sign-in feature that developers can use to enable users of their applications to login via Twitter.

Another kit that likely stoked Google's interest in Fabric is MoPub, which Twitter has described as a monetization platform for mobile application developers. The kit gives developers a way to more easily integrate ad-serving features in their mobile applications and to ensure that applications work smoothly with ads and advertisers across multiple mobile ad networks.

Fabric's Twitter Kit also includes Digits, a SMS authentication tool that makes it easier for developers to enable application sign-in via mobile phone numbers instead of usernames and passwords.

More than 580,000 application developers have downloaded Fabric and applications developed on the platform are currently installed on some 2.5 billion mobile devices worldwide, according to Twitter.

In a blog, Google Firebase product manager Francis Ma noted that after the acquisition is complete, Crashlytics would become Firebase's main crash reporting product. Google will release more details about how Fabric's products will be integrated with those from Firebase in coming weeks and months, he added.

"The integration of Fabric is part of our larger, long-term effort of delivering a comprehensive suite of features for iOS, Android and mobile Web app development," Ma said.

Google acquired Firebase in 2014 and since then has focused on making it a unified app development platform for Android and IOS applications as well as for mobile Web development purposes.

Last May Google added several new tools to Firebase including an analytics component, a cloud message feature and a remote configuration capability. As part of the Firebase expansion last year, Google introduced the crash reporting capability that will soon be replaced by Crashlytics and a test lab feature for finding vulnerabilities in Android apps.

For Twitter, the Fabric sale continues the company's efforts to improve its bottom line by divesting itself of non-essential businesses. Last October, the company announced that it would be killing off its Vine video-sharing network and reincarnating it as a mobile app for Android and iOS.

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.