Google Analytics arrives on the small screen with iPhone app

For the first time you can access your Google Analytics data from your iPhone. The new mobile apps allows you to monitor your online business with real-time reports in the palm of your hand.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor on
Google Analytics arrives for iOS - Jason O'Grady
(Photo: Loves Data)

If you rely on Google Analytics (GA) to monitor the performance of your website, your life just got a little easier thanks to a new mobile app for iOS (free, App Store) and Android (free, Play Store). 

Google Analytics has been the industry standard web analytics tool since 2005. It's installed by embedding a small bit of tracking code on your web pages. Once installed, it unlocks the value of data generated by visitors to your website and it turns normally unintelligible log files into slick charts, graphs and reports that are actionable. GA provides answers and insights about your online business that previously required cumbersome tools that were prohibitively expensive. 

After installing the GA tracking code on your website, simply log into the Google Analytics portal to analyze visitor traffic, perform advanced segmentation, view in-page analytics, and understand traffic sources. I've been using GA on my website since 2007 and find it to be an invaluable tool for tracking things like users, pageviews, referrals and keywords. Businesses that sell a product or a service (as opposed to publishing content) will love its ability to drive online marketing decisions with hard data instead of instinct or intuition. 

The new GA mobile app puts Google's powerful web analytics tools on your iPhone (or Android device) and gives you the ability to keep tabs on your online business when you're away from your desktop.

From the GA mobile app support page

The app optimizes the Google Analytics report layouts and controls for a mobile environment, so you get the best experience no matter what device you use. For example, the app automatically adjusts the display to fit your screen size, and the navigation is based on touching and swiping instead of traditional keyboard typing.

While it's a powerful and visually compelling first release (1.0.1, actually) Google Analytics for iOS is missing a couple of things. Most account configuration options (like creating properties, editing goals or filters, adding users, and changing permissions) can’t be managed from the app. You need to sign in to your Google Analytics account using a desktop browser to do things like that.

Also, full reporting visualization and analysis options are limited to the major reports that you'd expect, but it's a subset of the full suite available on the desktop. I'd also like to see a universal version of the iOS app that works on the iPad's larger screen and event-based push notifications. 

Although it's missing a few administrative features from its desktop cousin, GA for mobile includes a new feature. The pageviews heat map report (below), for example, is a new Behavior report not yet available in the web interface (Overview > Behavior). It neatly displays the times of day and day of the week where you receive the highest number of pageviews.

Despite a few areas for improvement, GA for iOS is one of the most powerful reporting tools available for website owners – and it's free (GA Premium with more features is also available.) If you don't already run regular analytics on your online business, you're putting yourself at an (unnecessary) disadvantage by not using a tool like Google Analytics. The new GA mobile app puts high-quality data at your fingertips so that you can monitor your business's performance even when your away from your desk.

For further reading, I recommend Loves Data's blog post on 10 great tips for the new GA mobile app.

Google Analytics comes to the small screen with iOS and Android apps - Jason O'Grady
(Screen shots: Google)
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