This article is about business reporting and scientific charts on the iPhone, the iPod Touch and the iPad. It lists available options and points out their specific advantages and drawbacks.
Visualization of information is of crucial importance for mobile devices. Unlike for desktop machines where you can interact with information on large screens, mobile devices demand that all information fits on a small screen. Therefore, having the means to present data concisely and interactively is of crucial importance in business applications.
On desktop operating systems a plethora of different libraries for visualization is available for almost all use cases. For iOS the choice is more limited and there are additional considerations that have to be taken into account. One is the latency and bandwidth of mobile communication — app users may not always have a working network connection and the connection may also be quite slow. Thus, frequent reloading of data and related information is not always possible.
Mobile devices also are more interactive, giving users the option to work directly with the data on their screen and manipulating data with single or multiple touches. Thus, the UI interaction is often highly specific to the operating system in question. Apps would simply behave differently on Android and iOS machines.
Mobile devices do not have much computing power and sustained computation will result in reduced battery life. Thus, expensive computational operations should be avoided on the device and instead handled by a remote server.
When taking all these considerations into account the “best” choice will depend on the individual use case. In the following I list a couple of popular choices and their respective strengths and weaknesses.
The following listing is not complete, but shows viable options with their respective merits and drawbacks:
There are several options available for visualization on iOS devices. Each option has particular strengths and weaknesses. Developers need to carefully draft their specifications and then pick that option that provides the best fit in their specific use case.
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Wolfram is a leading software engineer focused on Enterprise and B2B apps on iOS. His clients rank from small independent studios to companies in the German DAX index.
He has worked at top Universities on three continents in the past decade and is a popular speaker at conferences. He is currently working in Berlin, Germany, and can be reached at his company website.