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Mobile Apps

Google acquires Firebase to help apps span Android, iOS, Web

Google will continue to offer Firebase's cloud-based synchronization service. It's a new step to making Google's tech foundation more compelling to programmers.

Firebase logo
Firebase

Google has acquired Firebase, a company that offers developers a mechanism to write mobile and Web-based apps that stay in sync with each other.

The Firebase employees will become part of Google's cloud-computing team, Google said Tuesday. Firebase offers a service that lets apps running in browsers or on Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems work in lockstep by saving and sharing data using central servers. Google will continue to operate the service.

"Over the past three years, we've gone from a crazy idea that 'just might work' to a proven product used by 110,000 developers. Today, I couldn't be happier to announce that we've joined Google," Firebase co-founder and Chief Executive James Tamplin said in a blog post.

The acquisition is part of Google's effort to cater to programmers -- the independent developers in the world who create software and applications and help cement the technology giants' power and keep them competitive with one another.

The current computing market is dominated by a handful of those technology giants, with Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon at the top of the list. Each has technology that reaches from low-level hardware to high-level apps and services. It's the programmers who help make those technology stacks relevant by building the apps and services that the rest of use -- everything from social networks to company expense-report tools.

Firebase should help Google lower hurdles for those programmers, Google said:

Mobile is one of the fastest-growing categories of app development, but it's also still too hard for most developers. With Firebase, developers are able to easily sync data across Web and mobile apps without having to manage connections or write complex sync logic. Firebase makes it easy to build applications that work offline and has full-featured libraries for all major Web and mobile platforms, including Android and iOS.

If you're already a Firebase developer, you'll start seeing improvements right away, and if you're a Google Cloud Platform customer, you'll find it even easier to create great mobile and Web apps. The entire Firebase team is joining Google and, under the leadership of Firebase co-founders James Tamplin and Andrew Lee, will be working hard to bring you great new features.

Google has a big jump on Apple when it comes to cloud computing foundations, but its primary mobile rival has been catching up. As for Microsoft, it already has significant cloud clout with its Azure service, and Amazon Web Services is the first port of call for programmers trying to get new online tools up and running quickly. Cloud services, ideally, are easy to tap into, and customers pay as they use them, thereby avoiding heavy upfront costs of buying hardware, software and network capacity of their own.

Tamplin said being under Google management should let Firebase improve its services faster.