Microsoft Upgrades Power BI Mobile Sharing on Android, iOS Devices

The iOS version of the Power BI app makes it easier for users to annotate and share their business insights on the go with Apple mobile devices, including the Apple Watch.

Microsoft is rolling out the final Power BI mobile app updates for 2016. This time around, the focus is on making it easier to share findings and get Android tablet users up to speed on the business intelligence (BI) app.

On iOS, the company has made new enhancements to the app's annotating and sharing features. New to the latest release is the ability to share both annotated and mobile-optimized reports directly from the app. Further, shared snapshots sent via email now create a deep link that takes the recipient directly to the related Power BI tile or report.

Building on Power BI's existing Quick Response code capabilities, which allow users to share reports using codes that can be scanned by cameras on smartphones and tablets, the company has added the ability for unauthorized users to request access directly from the app. The owner of the related Power BI dashboard in question must approve the request using the Power BI web portal.

The app also allows Apple Watch users to refresh data from the companion app for the wearable. With the iPhone app running in the background and the dashboard index page visible on the Watch, users can "deep press" the Watch's Force Touch-enabled screen to perform a refresh.

This month, Microsoft finally released a preview edition of the Power BI app for Android tablets. The company is encouraging users to take it for a spin and help the company refine the app by supplying feedback using the Power BI Mobile online community forum.

Also for Android devices, Microsoft has enabled location-based geographic report filtering.

"Now you can use your Android device to filter reports by your current location in just one tap," stated Romi Koifman, a Microsoft Power BI program manager, in a Dec. 19 blog post. "When viewing reports with data about the city, state, or country that you're in, you'll be able to filter your data by that city, state, or country. As long [as] you're using the app, the filter will remain in effect in the reports to which it was applied."

On both the Android and iOS Power BI apps, Microsoft has modified how the apps behave when users tap on tiles containing custom URLs. Tapping a tile now takes users directly to the URL instead of the focus mode view for the tile. Microsoft has also changed how the apps' offline background refresh feature works on all versions of the app to reduce network overhead.

Meanwhile, Microsoft senior program manager Will Thompson assured desktop users that the company is taking menu bloat seriously as the desktop version of Power BI continues to gain features.

"The overall UX [user experience] across the desktop is getting busy as we add more functionality, and we're always looking at ways to better structure it," said Thompson during a recent Power BI Ask Microsoft Anything session in the community forums. "We've got some ideas that'll help the formatting and layout options in particular—and the order in which cards appear is getting fixed too."

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...