Thursday Mar 13, 2014

BI Mobile: What’s the Deal with Android?

Android devices make up 80% of the worldwide mobile market. So if companies are promoting BYOD to work (bring your own devices), why haven’t we heard anything about Android Business Intelligence (BI) apps? Matt Milella, a Director of Product Development for Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile Apps, recently joined me on an Oracle Podcast to discuss a new Android BI offering and described why Android apps are special and not just Apple App clones.   

Matt started the conversation off by talking about what can be done with this new Android version of the Business Intelligence Mobile App. I asked him if it is basically the same as the Apple iOS version. His response was interesting -- “Well, Yes and No.  Yes, in that you can consume all of your OBIEE content including BI Mobile App Designer content just like the iOS version, but it is not the same exact thing.  When we decided to build an Android version we wanted to make sure that we delivered an ‘Android’ experience, and take advantage of specific Android features.”

That piqued my interest. If they are just both mobile operating systems, why would you want them to be different? Matt explained that it was important for Android users to feel comfortable in the application, so they wanted the app to look and act like other Android applications that the users have become accustomed to, such as Gmail or Google Now.  Users are then able to focus on what is being delivered – Business Intelligence.  

But that was just the beginning. Matt told us that they included a ‘card’ layout concept for browsing content just like YouTube or Google Now apps.  They have also taken search abilities to the next level, with search suggestions, support for voice search, and voice commands.  So now, users can open a dashboard by saying, ‘open’ and the dashboard name - or even part of the name.  “Android has really great voice controls that we were able to leverage, and this works really well.  We think that users will stop browsing the catalog and most if not all reports and dashboards will be opened with search,” said Matt. The last big item he told us about is the ‘tap-to-share’ feature using near field communications (NFC).  This works just like in the Samsung commercials!  

Tap and Share

Apparently, tap-to-share has a great use case for Business Intelligence.  Just think - you’re in a meeting discussing some numbers, a report, or a specific KPI, and everyone wants to look at them more carefully.   Typically this might be done manually (sharing a URL or report name) or by email, or everyone sending each other a link.  According to Matt, “now you literally can just tap someone’s Android device and ‘POW’ the same content opens, and of course it opens with the correct security context for that new user.”  Matt mentioned that they have more great ideas around sharing and getting on the same page with colleagues, and to stay tuned.

According to Matt, the new Android release will work on any sized Android device.  The application adapts to the screen size and for Android there are a lot of screen sizes. Android pioneered the Phablet  (phone/tablet) category, and they wanted to be sure to support devices like the Galaxy Note or the HTC One Max.  The BI content looks amazing on these larger screen phones.  Matt said, “With BYOD in full swing, we have broad support, and this now has to include form factors or screen sizes of devices.”

Matt emphasized that with Android’s world market share now at 80% in a BYOD world, you just cannot ignore this operating system.  Oracle wants to be the mobile leader, therefore they have to offer world-class Android and iOS apps, no exceptions!  So expect more cool features and innovations to follow for both Android and iOS.

To listen to the entire podcast, click here.
To learn more about Oracle’s BI Mobile Android Release, click here.

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