Google Cloud Platform for AWS Professionals: Mobile Backend

Updated October 17, 2017

Compare the mobile backend services that Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) provide in their respective cloud environments.

Service model comparison

Both AWS Mobile Hub and Firebase provide services for authentication, data storage, serverless routines, content delivery, notifications, device testing, and analytics. However, the two platforms differ in their scope.

AWS Mobile Hub offers a collection of services that work well for mobile backend development. In GCP, Firebase provides a suite of backend services, but also provides client libraries that include front-end capabilities aimed at speeding client application development.

These features include UI flows for authentication, integrated app performance monitoring, sharing features, remote configuration, app indexing, and dynamic links.

Feature AWS Mobile Hub Firebase
Authentication Amazon Cognito Firebase Authentication (includes UI flows)
Database Amazon DynamoDB Firebase Realtime Database
Data Storage/CDN Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront Firebase Hosting
Serverless routines Cloud Logic and AWS Lambda Firebase Hosting and Cloud Functions for Firebase
Notifications Amazon SNS Firebase Cloud Messaging
Client application services N/A Performance monitoring, app indexing, app monitoring, crash reporting, app sharing, remote configuration, dynamic links

Supported platforms

Both AWS Mobile Hub and Firebase support most major mobile platforms. In addition, Firebase provides JavaScript libraries for direct integration in web applications and frameworks such as Angular. AWS Mobile Hub integrates with some additional mobile app development platforms, including Xamarin and React Native.

Feature AWS Mobile Hub Firebase
Android Yes Yes
iOS Yes Yes
Xamarin Yes No
React Native Yes No
Unity Yes (Developer Preview) Yes
JavaScript Yes Yes


Both AWS Mobile Hub and Firebase provide the backends and SDKs for authentication. AWS provides Amazon Cognito, and Firebase provides Firebase Authentication. Both services provide email and password authentication through a number of federated providers, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and GitHub authentication. Amazon Cognito also includes support for Amazon authentication.

The two platforms differ in the type of authentication support they provide. Amazon Cognito provides backend services, including server-side endpoints and databases, for performing authentication. Access to other AWS services is provisioned using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) attached to users or user groups.

In addition to the backend-services and server-side endpoints for performing authentication, Firebase Authentication provides pre-built UI flows and UI-oriented SDKs for interfacing with its backend services for authentication.

Languages and Platforms

AWS Cognito and Firebase Authentication both support Android, iOS, Node.js, and REST. In addition, Amazon Cognito supports React, .NET, Python, PHP, and Ruby.

The following table provides a general mapping between Amazon Cognito and Firebase Authentication:

Feature Amazon Cognito Firebase Authentication
Basic email/password authentication Yes Yes
Federated providers Amazon, Facebook, GitHub, Google, Twitter, OpenID providers Facebook, GitHub, Google, Twitter
Custom Providers Yes Yes
Anonymous authentication Yes Yes
User data storage Amazon Cognito Sync User Based Security
Supported platforms Android, iOS Android, iOS
Supported languages and frameworks .NET. Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby Node.js
Deployment locality Multi-regional Global
Pricing model Billed by monthly active users in tiers. Included for free in all tiers.


AWS Mobile Hub's main data storage provider is Amazon DynamoDB, a managed document/key-value store. Firebase is named after its real-time database, which is document-based and includes synchronization in real time to all connected clients. The Firebase database also supports offline access and modification to data, persisting data to the client disk and synchronizing the client with the server state after connectivity is restored.

Both databases support direct client access. Firebase security rules manage access to data within Firebase, while AWS IAM manages securing client access to DynamoDB.

AWS Mobile Hub NoSQL Database (DynamoDB) Firebase
Direct access from client Yes Yes
Security AWS IAM Firebase Security Rules
Transactional No Yes
Real-time updates No Yes
Offline & re-sync No *Note: some offline and resync available via Amazon Cognito Sync Yes
Deployment locality Available regions: US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia),
US West (N. California), US West (Oregon),
Canada (Central), Asia Pacific (Mumbai),
Asia Pacific (Seoul), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney),
Asia Pacific (Tokyo), EU (Frankfurt),
EU (Ireland), EU (London), South America (São Paulo)
Not configurable.
Pricing model Based on region, throughput, data storage, and data transfer. Based on simultaneous connections, data storage, and data transfer.

Serverless functions

Both platforms support serverless routines and access from the client. AWS Mobile Hub uses Cloud Logic to select AWS Lambda routines to use with the mobile application and to provide access to those routines through the AWS API Gateway. Firebase provides Firebase Hosting and Cloud Functions to support client access to serverless routines running in the cloud.

Feature AWS Mobile Hub Firebase
Serverless routine AWS Lambda Cloud Functions for Firebase
Routing to serverless routines Cloud Logic Firebase Hosting
Deployment locality Available regions: US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia),
US West (N. California), US West (Oregon),
Canada (Central), Asia Pacific (Mumbai),
Asia Pacific (Seoul), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney),
Asia Pacific (Tokyo), EU (Frankfurt),
EU (Ireland), EU (London), South America (São Paulo)
Not selectable.
Pricing model Based on millions of API calls and data transfer. Based on invocations, memory use, cpu seconds, and outbound networking and data transfer.

Content delivery

Both AWS and Firebase offer a content delivery network (CDN): Amazon provides Amazon CloudFront, and Google provides Cloud CDN. The mechanics of the two platforms are similar, but the network used to distribute the content may have significant differences. For a detailed comparison of networking on the two platforms, see Google Cloud Platform for AWS Professionals: Networking.

Feature AWS Mobile Hub Firebase
Content delivery network (CDN) CloudFront Cloud CDN
Origin hosting Amazon S3 Firebase Hosting
Deployment locality Global Global
Pricing model Based on data transfer and storage. Based on data transfer and storage.

Push notifications

Configuration of push notifications is similar in AWS and Firebase. Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) and Firebase Cloud Messaging differ only in their specific implementations and some of the frameworks supported. The supported services platforms appear below.

Feature Amazon SNS Firebase
Supported notification services Google Cloud Messaging, Apple Push Notification Service, Windows Push Notification Service, Baidu Cloud Push, Unity Google Cloud Messaging, Apple Push Notification Service, Unity, Chrome 50+, Firefox 44+, Opera Mobile 37+
Supported platforms and languages REST HTTP API, JavaScript, Java, Python, Node.js, Ruby, Go, C++, PHP, .NET REST HTTP API, XMPP, JavaScript, Node.js, C++
Deployment locality Multi-regional Global
Pricing model Based on millions of messages Free

Import and export

AWS Mobile Hub allows developers to import and export their projects as YAML files. Firebase allows you to configure automated nightly backups of your project data and rules, storing them as JSON files in Cloud Storage. You can transfer Firebase projects between projects by using Cloud IAM.

App testing

Both Firebase and AWS support submitting automated tests to be run on various devices that are hosted in the cloud by the provider. These tests allow the developer either to get a quick smoke test to ensure a sane build of their application or to hand code specific steps in the UI to be executed on the cloud device or devices. AWS Device Farm supports more test frameworks and devices. Firebase Device Lab supports only Android devices using Robo or Android Instrumentation tests.

Feature Amazon Device Farm Firebase Device Lab
iOS test types Appium, Calabash, XCTest, KIF, UI Automation N/A
Android test types Appium, Calabash, Robotium, Espresso, UI Automator, custom instrumentation tests, built-in explorer Robo & Android Instrumentation tests (including Espresso).
Deployment locality Not selectable Not selectable
Pricing model Per minute or flat rate. Per device hour, excluding set number of free tests per day.


Amazon Pinpoint and Google Analytics for Firebase both support analytics, audience segmentation, and targeted campaigns. Both support exporting events to a data warehouse service. Firebase Analytics also integrates with other GCP services, including Firebase Crash Reporting, Firebase Remote Config, Firebase Cloud Messaging, and Google Tag Manager.

Feature AWS Mobile Hub/Pinpoint Google Analytics for Firebase
Analytics and campaigns Yes Yes
Export to data warehouse Export to Amazon Redshift Export to BigQuery
Unlimited reporting Yes Yes
Incorporate notifications Yes Yes
Remote config N/A Yes
Tag management No Yes (Google Tag Manager)
Deployment locality Global Global
Pricing model Based on Monthly Targeted Audience Free

Additional features

Firebase and AWS Mobile Hub each include features that are not included by the other.

Additional AWS Mobile Hub Features

Conversational bots

AWS Mobile Hub includes a feature called Conversational Bots. This feature integrates Amazon Lex for text and voice conversion with AWS Lambda functions. Even though conversational bots are not a formal feature of Firebase, GCP has Dialogflow and API.AI, either of which can be combined with Firebase to achieve a conversational user experience.

Additional Firebase features

Crash reporting

Firebase Crash Reporting has two options for crash reporting: Firebase Crash Tool and Fabric Crashlytics. In contrast, AWS Mobile Hub relies on partner technologies for crash reporting.

Beta distribution of native applications

In addition to crash reporting, Fabric Crashlytics offers Beta by Crashlytics for distribution. Beta by Crashlytics is a popular beta distribution framework that provides for user invitation/revocation and integration with other Fabric libraries. Beta by Crashlytics also integrates with Fastlane build tools for iOS and Android for automated distribution.

App indexing

Firebase App Indexing indexes app content so that Google searches on the device provide links to the app in their results.

Firebase Dynamic Links link to the native app when opened on the device and link to web content from a desktop browser. To provide dynamic links, Firebase creates a domain that can be used to register the universal link domain within the Android or iOS platform.


Firebase Invites are an app referral feature that allows app users to share Firebase apps using dynamic links. The dynamic links adapt to the platform of the invited user: web, Android, or iOS.

Remote configuration

Firebase Remote Config lets developers change the behavior and appearance of an application without requiring an application update. Remote Config uses in-app default values to control the behavior and appearance of the application. Developers can then use the console to override in-app default values for all users or segments of them.

Performance monitoring

Firebase Performance Monitoring is a beta feature that monitors startup time, activity while in the foreground and background, HTTP/S network requests, and custom traces that are created using its included API.


AWS Mobile Hub pricing is based on the individual service components being used. Firebase automatically includes a number of products:

  • Authentication (excluding phone number authentication)
  • Analytics
  • App Indexing
  • Dynamic Links
  • Invites
  • Remote Config
  • Cloud Messaging
  • Performance Monitoring, and Crash Reporting

AWS Mobile Hub has bundled plans at a free tier and intermediate tier. Each Firebase bundled plan includes the following, with given usage limitations.

  • Storage
  • Cloud Functions
  • Phone number authentication
  • Hosting/Content Delivery
  • Test Lab

Outside of the intermediate usage limitations, Firebase includes individual per-service pay-as-you-go costs.

Additional GCP products, such as BigQuery, are billed separately.

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