Tableau 9.2 with Geolocation on the iPhone (source Tableau)
Tableau 9.2 with Geolocation on the iPhone

In what appears to be a significant release despite its denomination as 9.2 Tableau has revealed some significant upgrades as well as a new iPhone app.

A new iPhone App

iPhone support has now been added for the Tableau iOS app previously available only on the iPad. New functionality has also been added with geolocation now built into the application. This could be useful for sales teams with direct access to the analytics platform as they will be able to look at key prospects in close proximity to their location, allowing them maximize the effectiveness of their working day.

Chris Stolte, Chief Development Officer and co-founder of Tableau Software
Chris Stolte, Chief Development Officer and co-founder of Tableau Software

The other feature enhancement to this app is a faceted search that allow users to filter on a variety of fields to aid drilling down to find the most relevant insights. It is not just the iOS app that has been updated, there are also improvements to the main Tableau application.

Chris Stolte, Chief Development Officer and co-founder of Tableau Software explained the premise for the upgrade and iPhone development: “Tableau 9.2 advances our mission to help people see and understand data, making it easier to prep data, tell stories with maps and stay on top of your data, right from the iPhone.”

“Expanding our mobile app to the iPhone was one of our most requested improvements. We’ve also made it easier and quicker to interact with data and continue to provide more ways to keep data fresh and secure.”

Improvements to mapping and visual analytics

Tableau have introduces a Map Options dialog box. This allows users to pan and zoom, access search functionality from within the map screen and also adds a view toolbar. There are additional mapping data sets included within the default application including US congressional districts, local name synonyms for world capitals and Japanese postal codes.

There is integration to Mapbox, the company that is a mapping platform for developers, using the open source API’s that Mapbox provide. Tableau allows users to integrate the maps that Mapbox provide, delivering a wide range of backgrounds that allow data points to be added in layers giving context to the data points that has not been possible before.

These improvements to Tableau and its mapping interface are supported by additional functionality with the visual analytics capabilities of the software. Most of these are modifications to existing functionality requested by users. This includes the ability to insert totals and sub totals at different locations, Web authoring and the ability to view hierarchical data in tree maps.

Some of the minor annoyances with previous versions have also been resolved. It is now possible to fix one end of the axis in a graph, allowing data to start at the optimum point for viewing and colour selections can be retained and re-used. There are improvements to the data preparation routine with the ability to insert calculations into the data prior to analysis, amend column names and sorting data for easier reviewing prior to importing.

For enterprise customers there are a new level of permissions that can be set. It is now possible to not only set permissions at the data source and workbook level but also at project level. For large multinationals with multiple data sets and workbooks, especially in matrix management structures this will be useful.

These permissions can also be set by a developer if required using the available API’s. There is also support for OpenII connect. Users who have already been validated against an OpenID connect provider such as Google no longer need the double authentication. This will cut down on the administrative tasks as well as improve the user experience.

New support for OpenID Connect means users are automatically signed into Tableau Server if they are already signed into an OpenID Connect identity provider such as Google, Salesforce and SAP HANA. It is also possible to refresh data on the server with data feeds using SAML identity providers for authentication.

For companies using multiple data sources and supporting a single login solution that uses an identity provider this will enable them to move some of the analytics closer to the end user as they can refresh the data without authentication. The full feature list can be found on the Tableau website


While this is not a major upgrade from Tableau they have utilized the release to not only deliver bug fixes and minor improvement but also delivered some significant improvements. These could make a major difference to some customers with the Mapbox integration being a case in point.

While the iPhone app is welcome, the screen size for the phone does dictate to an extent how effective that application will be. Given the limited screen size it will be interesting to see how companies develop their interface to take advantage of the quick access that the iPhone has.

It will also be interesting to see how Deloitte Consultancy utilize the new features, especially mapping and the iPhone app within their customer meetings. With the iOS application now introducing new functionality it will be fascinating to see how Vizable develops over the next few months. Vizable is the free iPad analytics app that can be downloaded from iTunes. With version 8 released in 2013 and version 9 earlier this year it will be interesting to see what Tableau will be doing in 2016 and whether there will be another major release.




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