In this post I’d like to cover a great open source library: FirebaseUI (for Android and iOS). I’ve been pretty vocal about the need to come up with better patterns around dealing with passwords or even ideally getting completely rid of them by using better alternatives and I feel like Firebase’s approach towards authentication is very much in line with what I’ve been demanding.

What is FirebaseUI Auth?

FirebaseUI Auth is a collection of UI bindings for Firebase that allows to handle presenting data from Firebase (FirebaseUI Database) and offers a beautiful drop-in solution to handle user authentication (FirebaseUI Auth) in your Android or iOS application. It comes with support for Smart Lock, integrates with the most common identity providers (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google) and allows to customize it’s UI by simply providing a theme on Android or subclassing FIRAuthPickerViewController on iOS.

Why is it useful?

The team took a look at implementing several security best practices - such as suggesting a user’s frequently used email addresses (via Smart Lock HintRequest), creating new accounts or linking multiple accounts to the same user. This sounds very easy in theory but looking at the variety of possible cases this suddenly becomes a behemoth that isn’t all that easy to handle (picture taken from the FirebaseUI Auth documentation):

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Not having to work on solving all these different (edge) cases and instead focussing on a great user experience (and your own application) sounds like a great proposition for me. This is why I’d love to encourage you to give FirebaseUI a try and provide me or the team itself (via Twitter or GitHub) with any feedback you might have.

How can I use it?

Installation is as easy as using either Gradle or CocoaPods in order to resolve the right dependencies. The team has split up FirebaseUI into multiple modules/subspecs in order to allow you to select the most minimal feature set you’re interested in. There are great samples - like the FirebaseUI Chat Demo for iOS or the sample application for Android that outline the steps needed to get the library integrated.

I’ll be giving a talk at Droidcon Vienna next weekend and am looking forward to discussing current authentication UI/UX best practices with the attendees!

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