June was an especially productive month for the Power BI group at Microsoft. Along with the official launch of the capacity-based Power BI premium licensing option and the new Power BI Desktop reporting options introduced during last month's the Data Insights Summit, the Redmond, Wash. software maker also issued several new updates to the business intelligence and analytics platform's underlying cloud service and its apps.
Among those new updates is the ability to add favorite apps to the Power BI mobile apps. In Power BI, apps (not to be confused with the mobile client applications) are collections of dashboards and reports that automatically update to reflect the changes made by their authors.
Now, when users launch the Power BI mobile apps on their smartphones or tablets, they have the option to add apps to a list of favorites, similar to the way web browser users can bookmark websites. After a users selects a favorite, it will appear as the Power BI mobile app's default landing page, providing users with instant access to the business metrics they're most interested in.
The latest batch of updates also includes report loading and caching performance enhancements that provide a snappier and more responsive user experience while exploring data visualizations on their smartphones. Along those lines, the Power BI authoring toolkit now allows users to create responsive layouts that render data visualizations appropriately, whether viewed on a mobile phone or large-screen display, according to Microsoft.
Power BI also gains interactive R custom visuals, replacing the image-based approach of the past. The software now uses HTML to draw charts, instead of static images, opening up new levels of interaction. For example, users can now select a region within a chart to delve deeper or zoom in to explore business data in finer detail.
Personal Mode on the Power BI On-premises Data Gateway, which provides end-user connectivity to on-premises databases and other data sources, has been also upgraded, announced Sirui Sun, a senior program manager at Microsoft Power BI, in a July 3 announcement.
"New features in this release include an improved Fast Combine experience, ability to delete the gateway from the Power BI portal, export logs functionality and enhanced overall reliability and performance. Install the new gateway," Sun wrote. Microsoft is urging existing Power BI Gateway – Personal users to install the newer version before the upgrade stops working on July 31.
For marketers, Microsoft released a preview of its Campaign/Brand Management for Facebook template for Power BI. After linking the social analytics solution to a Facebook account, the solution allows users to measure engagement on Facebook pages, gauge user sentiment and view trends going back 90 days.
Finally, Microsoft also rolled out email subscriptions for Power BI dashboards. Rather than log into Power BI to peruse an organization's latest key performance indicators, busy executives can now opt to have their dashboards delivered to their email inboxes once a day. Email subscriptions require a Power BI Pro license.