Thanks to the flexibility and control it gives developers over their apps, feature flag tools are seeing wide adoption in the industry. They allow for quicker development and enable you to experiment, A/B test, and personalize your app to different users.
However, using an in-house solution for feature flagging can be too time-consuming to implement and a headache to maintain for most development teams. Which is why we are rounding up the top feature flags tools in 2018 for you to choose from.
Mobile Feature Flag Management Tools
Firebase Remote Config
Part of Google’s development platform, Firebase Remote Config is a simple but powerful feature flag tool. Remote Config allows you to do more with feature flags than hide incomplete features; with it, you can set up A/B/n tests and even update your app on the fly. Additionally, if you use Analytics for Firebase, you can leverage your existing audiences and segments for feature flag targeting.
However, the Remote Config dashboard is fairly basic, offering limited functionality and a less intuitive experience compared to other services. There is no group management outside of Google Analytics’ audiences, which requires you to enable Analytics in the Firebase SDK in order to access them.
Supported Languages and Platforms: Android, iOS, Unity, C++
Pricing: Google offers a generous free “Spark” plan. The “Flame” plan costs $25/month, while the “Blaze” plan is “pay as you go” depending on your usage.
Rollout is an enterprise-grade feature flag tool that focuses on mobile and IoT applications, boasting clients like Zendesk, AT&T, and Upwork. They offer a powerful feature management solution that allows user and segment targeting, A/B and multivariate testing, instant roll-backs, and remote configuration. And with their sights on enterprise, Rollout includes great security on all plans. Additionally, they integrate with some of the most popular mobile analytics tools, and JIRA. This way, you make use of your existing analytics and segments, while maintaining your stack and workflows.
Pricing: Rollout offers a 14-day free trial. The “Pro” plan includes all features and starts at $75/month, scaling with the number of MAUs and seats, but you’ll have to contact Rollout for a quote. The “Enterprise” plan adds premium support and handles millions of MAUs; request a demo for a price quote.
LaunchDarkly is another dedicated feature flag management tool that offers extensive features. They support a variety of platforms and languages and boast clients like Microsoft, Atlassian, and Invision. Like Rollout, LaunchDarkly offers all the features of an enterprise-grade tool but, unlike Rollout, reserves the security features for the “Enterprise” plan. Out of the box, integrations are limited to Optimizely, NewRelic, and VSTS, but they do have a very well documented REST API.
However, keep in mind that LaunchDarkly does not include A/B testing in their plans but offer them as an add-on purchase.
Pricing: LaunchDarkly offers a 30-day trial. Their plans start at $75/month billed annually for the “Starter” plan which is limited to one member, 1,000 MAUs, and no add-ons. The “Professional” plan costs $325/month billed annually and increases the limits to 5 members and 25,000 MAUs while also adding security features and priority support.
Experimentation (A/B testing) $126/month for 1 million activities
Extra 5 team members $240/month
Extra 25,000 MAUs $150/month
Optimizely is a well known A/B testing and experimentation tool for both web and mobile. It claims to be built for the enterprise with features like roles, permissions, and two-factor authentication while still maintaining excellent usability. Along with user targeting, remote configuration, and instant rollbacks, Optimizely offers advanced A/B testing and experimentation features. By leveraging their presence on web they can even run multichannel experiments, closing the loop. Moreover, Optimizely integrates with over 30 popular development tools and should cause minimal disruption to your workflow.
Pricing: Optimizely offers three plans i.e. “Essentials”, “Business”, and “Enterprise”, but you will need to contact them for a price quote.
Split is yet another powerful feature flag management tool serving customers like EA, Salesforce, and Crunchbase. It might not be suited for cross-channel experiments, but offers highly granular control over your releases, their targeting, and team permissions. Additionally, Split provides a powerful analytics engine that can automatically determine the significance of test results, and attribute events to the relevant experiment. Lastly, Split also features enterprise-grade security and wide integration with the most popular tools.
Pricing: Split offers a 14-day trial. Paid tiers start at $700/month billed annually for their “Foundation” plan. Aside from premium support, the only difference between plans is the number of MAUs and tracked metrics. Contact Split for a quotation on the higher plans.
Apptimize started as a mobile-oriented feature management and A/B testing platform and now serve companies like Glassdoor, Viber, and Grubhub. They have recently expanded to offer cross-platform experiments and tracking to give you a better understanding of your users while homogenizing the user experience across channels. The usual feature flagging, A/B/n testing, and security capabilities are also included along with highly granular team permissions and user targeting. However, Apptimize only integrates with the popular analytics tools and does not provide APIs for their SDK.
Pricing: Apptimize only offers two plans, “Basic” and “Enterprise”, and you will need to contact them for a price quote.
Taplytics started as a mobile analytics tool and after its success has gone on to add many additional features including feature flags and A/B testing. It has powerful push notification, analytics, and experimentation features but – with the exception of cross-channel experiments – offers a quite basic feature flagging experience. Having said that, Taplytics’ feature flagging tool is still useful for smaller teams that do not have complicated app requirements. This is especially true if the team is already using Taplytics as their analytics.
Pricing: Contact Taplytics for a price quote.
Bullet Train is a very interesting new open-source feature flag management service that has only recently been released. Their product only offers basic feature flag management and remote configuration currently with audit logs, user segmentation, and A/B testing listed as coming soon. Additionally, Bullet Train currently supports a limited number of languages and lacks any third-party integrations. However, their affordable prices geared at startups and the promise of quick iteration can drive some to overlook these downsides, especially if their app’s needs are relatively simple.
Pricing: Bullet Train is open-source and you can self-host it at no cost. Hosted Plans have a 30-day trial and start at $5/month for the “Side Project” plan capped at 2,000 MAU. The “Start-Up” plan costs $29/month with a 10,000 MAU cap, while the “Scale-Up” plan costs $99/month and caps at 50,000 MAU. The “Enterprise” plan caters for requirements above 50,000 MAU and you will need to contact Bullet Train for a quotation.
Feature flagging has earned its spot among the rest of the mobile development best practices and with good reason. It allows you to decouple deployment from delivery, mitigates release risks, and gives you the power to A/B/n test different versions of your app. Above all, it enables you to rollback a problematic feature on the fly, remotely push changes to your app, or even deliver different versions to specific segments of your app, all without going through the app store.
Keep in mind that you will need to supplement your feature flagging tool with other tools to gain the full benefits they have to offer. In-app analytics tools allow you to better segment your audiences and target them with specific versions, in addition to helping you to evaluate each version’s performance. In-app bug reporting tools will help you quickly discover and resolve bugs and crashes that occur in your test versions. Finally, in-app chat and survey tools open a direct communication channel between you and your users for quick feedback on your new versions.
Whether you will be using one of the services we listed in this post or even developing an in-house tool, feature flags and A/B testing are definitely worth the hassle when done right.