Microsoft Makes Navigating Power BI Mobile Easier

The latest updates help users get to the data they seek faster and keep better tabs on their most important business statistics.

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Microsoft has updated its Power BI mobile apps, offering users new and faster ways of accessing their business analytics on the go.

On all mobile platforms (Android, iOS and Windows), the apps now use the Favorites page as the default landing page, helping users quickly reach their most used dashboards and visualizations. Users who haven't selected a favorite will see the My Workspace page instead.

Power BI's navigation sports an updated look and feel that helps users get around the app in a simpler, more intuitive manner, according to Romi Koifman, a Microsoft Power BI program manager. As part of the changes, the app's group selection features have been tucked under the Workspaces category.

The app's alert notifications are more descriptive, she added. Now when a metric crosses a predefined threshold—Power BI allows users to configure alerts based on a variety of factors—the app will show more information on why an alert was triggered.

On Android, those alerts will be easier to dismiss. Users can dismiss a notification with a simple swipe gesture.

The Windows Phone version of the app gains the geo-filtering capabilities that are already present in its Apple iOS counterpart. The new feature allows users to filter geographical data based on their current location with a single tap. Geo-filtering can be used to explore data pertaining to a user's country, state or city.

While decidedly less mobile than an iPhone, Android handset or Windows Phone, Power BI now supports the SandDance visualization in presentation mode on the Surface Hub, Microsoft's all-in-one teleconferencing, collaboration and whiteboard hardware product for meeting rooms.

Hailing from Microsoft Research, SandDance generates eye-catching animations as users explore their Power BI data, boosting the platform's storytelling potential. Instead of abrupt transitions between charts and graphs, the technology shows data points twisting and twirling—like grains of sand caught in the wind—before settling into position, visually reinforcing the notion that the insights generated by the software relate to each other in some manner.

Surface Hub customers can now use SandDance to help tell the story behind their business metrics.

"As part of providing presentation mode functionality in Surface Hub, we took another step in making this a great visual for presentations by providing a more clear way to move between the different perspectives," wrote Koifman in a blog post. "With this update, you can set a persistent, predefined set of states in SandDance, and move between them using simple back and forth and play buttons."

Last week, Microsoft announced the availability of custom visuals based on R, the statistical programming language that is popular among data scientists.

"With the October 2016 release of Power BI Desktop, and in the Power BI service, you can use R-powered custom visuals without any knowledge of R, and without any R scripting," said Microsoft Senior Program Manager Sharon Laivand, in a statement. "This enables you to harness the analytic and visual power of R visuals, and R scripts, without learning R or doing any programming yourself."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...