What if you could track and get insights on actual user experiences for planned updates in your app?
That is exactly what Firebase A/B testing can do for you, along with several other additional benefits. For instance, Firebase lets you use Remote Config to perform A/B tests for your iOS app without asking users to download a full version of the app. iOS A/B testing is a great and cost-efficient way to evaluate user engagement in your iOS applications.
This article will help you learn how to use and configure Firebase to experiment and generate results for A/B tests in an iOS environment. Before exploring how to use the Firebase console to perform iOS A/B testing, let’s get familiar with Firebase first.
In this article:
What Is Firebase?
Firebase is a platform offered by Google that allows you to flexibly, quickly, and easily manage mobile or web applications in real time. The platform eliminates the risk of breaking something. It has several features and attributes to create, deploy, evaluate, and interact with your apps.
Firebase has three main functionalities, and there are several unique tools integrated within the platform to perform each of those functionalities smoothly. First, take a look at the core functionalities offered by the Firebase team:
Build. With the build functionality of Firebase, you can perform the backend management of your application without having to manage a server. You will also get solutions to the common issues related to application development. In addition, the tools are designed to let you scale up as much as needed to cater to millions of users.
The tools for supporting the build functionality are Cloud Firestore, Remote Config, Cloud Functions, Cloud Messaging, Authentication, Realtime Database, Firebase ML, Hosting, and Cloud Storage.
Release and monitor. This functionality aims to make each stage of the software trial process easy for you. With Firebase’s release and monitor tools, you will be able to gradually roll out all the features of your production app for users while fixing any problem areas along the way.
The integrated tools you can use are Google Analytics, Crashlytics, Performance Monitoring, Remote Config, Test Lab, and App Distribution.
Engage. The primary purpose of this functionality is to help you get sufficient insights into the user experience. You can also conduct different types of marketing experiments to adjust your app's UI and modify your app for varying end-user segments.
The relevant tools under the Firebase platform are Predictions, Remote Config, Google Analytics, A/B Testing, Authentication, Cloud Messaging, Crashlytics, In-App Messaging, and Dynamic Links.
One of the most prominent functions offered under the umbrella of the Firebase console is the A/B test. A/B testing is a great way to compare different variations of your app and make informed data-driven decisions.
Now that we have an overall idea about the different tools and functionalities of Firebase, from here on, we will focus our discussion on how you can conduct A/B testing for iOS apps with Firebase.
How Does Firebase A/B Testing Work?
In a nutshell, the main idea of A/B testing is to develop a new version or feature (typically known as variant B) of your original product (typically known as variant A) and distribute this new app version to a predefined audience group. The process will allow you to compare user statistics and engagement data from variant A users versus variant B users.
- If you use Firebase, you can conduct the A/B test with the help of a cloud service known as Firebase Remote Config. Also, it’s possible to modify the user interface and app behavior directly from the Firebase console by using Remote Config. Interestingly, the Remote Config experiments will not annoy your end-users because they will not have to download the full version of the app while you use the Firebase Remote Config.
- You will also determine which portion of the users will experience the changes you make with your A/B test. Then, based on how you set the remote config, Firebase will seamlessly divide your app into different subgroups and ensure the correct version is shown to the appropriate user groups.
- Moving on, Firebase uses advanced algorithms based on Bayesian statistics to examine your data so that you know the confidence level for the insights you get through Firebase Analytics. Once you are satisfied with the experiment results, you will implement the changes for the remaining users and send them a notification with Firebase Cloud Messaging.
So how does it benefit you? You will save a significant amount of time and resources for the engineering time by not using test devices. Instead, your developers can efficiently experiment on the go from the Firebase console. Let’s now take a closer look at the main capabilities of the Firebase A/B test.
Main Capabilities of Firebase A/B Testing
One of the key advantages of using Firebase A/B testing is it will let you test your application in a real-life environment with actual user participation to adjust your application performance metrics, such as retention rate or onboarding flow based on the data before final deployment.
Here are the core capabilities of Firebase A/B testing:
- Trial and enhancement of app experience. With Firebase Remote Config, you will be able to check out user experience based on several metrics, and you will also know whether the modifications are easy to run.
- Frequent interaction through Notifications composer. A/B testing will let you try different combinations and wordings for your interactive messages for user engagement. You can take advantage of the Notifications composer to find the most interactive way to bring in more users.
- Deploying feature upgrades. A faulty feature upgrade may be disastrous for your reputation and costly to handle. However, with Firebase A/B testing, now you can be fully confident about how a feature would work before making it available to all of your users. In addition, you will have comprehensive user experience data gathered directly from a predefined user segment.
- Aiming at specific user groups to validate a prediction. With analytics events, you will learn the behavior of a predicted user group. For example, you want to know which users are more likely to act upon a particular CTA button that you will include in your app. You can anticipate and define user targeting accordingly to gain market insight into user actions.
Now let’s get into more technical details and see the steps you would take to implement Firebase A/B testing for your iOS application.
Implementation Flow for A/B Testing on iOS
To implement A/B testing on your iOS app, you will need to follow two simple steps, as shown below:
Connect the app to Firebase. To connect your iOS app with Firebase, first, you will need to install the Firebase iOS SDK and follow the step-by-step installation guide. To do so, you will need Xcode and an updated or recent version of iOS. You can either use a simulator or an Apple device for this purpose.
After the link is initiated, Firebase will use your constants from the GoogleServices-info.plist file, and the Remote Config library will be able to locate new values from the internet.
- Use Remote Config to update the app. Here, you will create a singleton Remote Config object containing the in-app default values of parameters and updated parameter values from the backend. You can also supervise and control when to make the fetched values available for the app users.
Moving on, you need to tell Firebase what you want to do with your experiment and the results you are seeking. You can do so by adding analytics to the app. Take a look at the next step.
Adding Analytics to the App
Here, you will define the purpose of your experiment, and accordingly, Firebase will generate insights for you. Here are the two steps to take:
- Adding events. With its event-based model, Firebase Analytics will trigger events for graphical representation whenever users perform the actions you track. Firebase will collect, store, and analyze these events in the cloud server.
- Debug view. You will also need to turn on the debugging mode as it will show you all the analytics results directly from the Firebase console in real time. It will include events you added yourself before and the events that are automatically tracked by Firebase, such as user engagement or screen view.
We will now take you through the steps for configuring your iOS app for A/B testing using Remote Config.
Configuring iOS A/B Testing
The configuration process for iOS A/B testing is pretty straightforward with a logical flow. It starts with creating an experiment and setting up what you want to track and ends with rolling out the winning variant. Take a look at the outline below:
Setting Up What to Measure
To begin, you will have to define what you want to measure in the goals section. Firebase will recommend some predefined goals for you, and you can also add your own. You can click “Add metric” to include additional metrics to track.
An experiment with Notifications composer lets you compare experiment results from different variants. Similarly, you can use conversion funnels or analytics events to examine performance in a Remote Config experiment.
Setting Up the Variants
The next step is to set up and define multiple application variants using Remote Config. You may also use the Notifications composer to re-engage with users before the final deployment of a variant.
Using Firebase, you can conduct trials for all of your experimental variants on a single test device. You will get an Instance ID Token as a unique identifier for each event you track. After finalizing your experiment, you will need to click “save.”
Firebase offers excellent flexibility to choose the size of the experimental user group, and you can constantly adjust it. For example, you can begin with experimenting with a small number of users; however, you may expand it as you wish if the early results are promising.
Evaluating Experiment Results
Firebase will help you with integrated Bayesian statistics to generate statistically significant results for your experiment. You will know with a certain degree of confidence that the changes in user behavior result from the changes you made in your app and are not just incidental ones.
Based on your experimental results across different variants, you can easily pick the winner and make it available to all of your app users. The process is as simple as clicking a “Roll out variant” button. Afterward, you can replicate variables from Remote Config and update the default values in the available version of the iOS app.
Need help with navigating through the Firebase console and user properties? Drop a note to Geniusee and see how our skilled developers can make the process even simpler for you!
A/B testing can save you from stresses about rolling out an iOS app, as negative user experiences can be costly. In addition, with A/B testing, you can significantly simplify the rolling out process and make informed decisions about user engagement across several variants. If that sounds exciting, make sure you connect your iOS app with Firebase Remote Config today and keep the libraries up to date.