It's a cold, hard fact: Apple iPhone owners spend a lot more money on apps than people with phones running Google Android.

The net result is that it's increasingly uncommon to find a developer who only works with Android.The massive reach of Google's Android operating system is good, but it's almost always better to hedge your bets with a web browser or iPhone app, as well, if you actually want to make money.That's why a cheer went up from the crowd at this week's Google I/O conference when the search giant announced a huge upgrade to its Firebase product — a popular free service, now with 450,000 users, that provides the crucial behind-the-scenes plumbing for iPhone, Android, and web apps.That update brings lots of new features, many of which will make life easier and more profitable  for developers.

That includes a new Firebase Analytics product, the evolution of the popular Google Analytics, and a bunch more features that bring Firebase into parity with its soon-discontinued competitor Facebook Parse.

It's a smart move that turns a weakness — the difficulty making money from Android apps — into a potential strength for Google and its increasingly important cloud computing business.Unification"This has been a massive effort across the company to unify our efforts for app developers," Google analytics head Russ Ketchum tells Business Insider.

"The result is that Firebase is now these full suite of integrated products designed to help developers build their apps, grow their user base, and earn more money.

With these upgrades, Firebase now does everything that Parse used to, plus its original killer feature of super-speedy database synchronization across devices.Real geniusThe real genius, though, is that Firebase can act as kind of a gateway to the Google Cloud Platform, where customers can rent supercomputing power and services from the search giant just by punching in a credit card.After all, Firebase is simple and powerful, but it won't be enough for every app.

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