The wait is finally over for iPhone users—the Google Analytics iPhone app is here!
On July 18th, Google released the long-awaited iOS version of its Google Analytics mobile app. Since the Android app for Google Analytics was launched over two years ago, iPhone users had been left out in the cold. But no longer! Now, both iPhone and Android users alike can have their analytics data at their fingertips.
Does this mean that you can dispense with your desktop computer and use your smartphone for all your analytics needs? Of course not. As a lighter, mobile-optimized version of GA, the app can’t do everything that you can do in the browser version. Rather it takes advantage of the mobile platform, offering quick and easy access to your data so you can monitor your site on-the-go.
The new iPhone app is simply a tool and is only useful if used for the right purpose.
So let’s explore its capabilities and limitations and help determine if it’s the right tool for you.
After a few minutes exploring the new iPhone app, one thing becomes very clear— it is a heavily-condensed version of Google Analytics. You have access to fewer reports, fewer dimensions and metrics, and fewer tools for segmentation and analysis than in the full desktop version.
The app also does not provide access to account configuration or admin functions. Hence, tasks such as creating views, editing goals or filters, and managing users must be done from a browser.
So you’re not going to be able to perform in-depth analysis or fully manage your GA account from the confines of your phone. But honestly, why would you want to?
If you’re like me, you may use Google Analytics with multiple browser tabs open at the same time, switching between a variety of reports filtered, sorted and segmented in different ways. This alone would be nearly impossible to do efficiently on a smartphone. Not to mention exporting data into Excel for further analysis or creating reports in other formats.
If we can say that the desktop version of Google Analytics lets you perform a “deep dive” into your data, then the mobile app is designed to let you keep watch from the lifeguard tower.
You will get the greatest benefit out of the GA mobile app if you use it to monitor your site at a high-level, keeping an eye out for trouble. Should you see something odd that needs closer inspection, you’ll have to climb down from the tower and jump into the water.
According to Google, “the Google Analytics app experience is designed to give you an overview of your data and performance.” So it’s best to think of the GA mobile app as an interactive dashboard—one that you can carry in your pocket.
The main Overview screen lets you quickly scroll through high-level metrics, neatly organized into GA’s standard sections of Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour, and Conversions. You can’t get this on your desktop unless you create a custom dashboard. And even then, it won’t look as pretty.
The best feature of the Overview screen has to be the Behaviour chart, which displays a heat-map of when your site is most active. At least for now, this type of chart is exclusive to the GA mobile app.
From the Overview screen, your standard site usage metrics (pages/visit, bounce rate, avg. visit duration, etc.) can be found by tapping on the Audience card. Each of the other cards on the Overview screen also brings up more detailed data with a single tap.
The full list of available reports can be accessed via the hamburger menu at the top left. Advanced segments may also be applied by tapping the icon in the top right corner, however only the default segments are available.
There will surely be updates and refinements to the GA iPhone app coming soon. You will notice that Google has yet to update its terminology in the app, i.e. sessions are still visits, users are still visitors.
Here are a few enhancements that we would like to see that would make the app even more useful as an on-the-go dashboard:
- Change the Acquisition chart on the Overview screen to display a breakdown by Channel Grouping instead of source.
- For sites with a diversity of inbound traffic, the source dimension can be heavily fragmented.
- Even showing medium would be an improvement here.
- Replace the Keyword chart on the Acquisition screen.
- This is a waste of screen real-estate given that the majority of keywords are “not provided”.
- Show goal conversion metrics broken down by individual goals.
- Right now, you can only see total goal completions, which is nothing more than a directional measure.
Have you tried the Google Analytics app? Tell us about it!