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RoamBi iPhone app makes data uberpretty

Interactive and gorgeous, the new RoamBi report viewer for iPhone and iPod Touch will catch the eye of field employees and data nuts alike.

RoamBi iPhone app--pie chart

A data report reader may not seem like the most exciting candidate for an iPhone app, but if you're working in the field--or are even just a numbers nut--the new RoamBi app will catch your eye.

RoamBi (short for 'roaming business intelligence') is good-looking, all right, and it manages to cram a breadth of information into its gorgeous charts and graphs. Unlike many mobile versions of spreadsheet readers, you'll almost never need to scroll through a tiny spreadsheet to analyze your data.

The service also includes a Web publisher where individual operators or corporate employees can import reports in four visual templates--the pie chart, graph, card file, or list. The data can then be e-mailed to the phone or pushed through the RoamBi account.

On the iPhone or iPod Touch itself, report-seekers can search and sort reports, or open them by the visual style if the report's name is hard to remember. On top of the features that let you drill down deep into each report's components on successive screens are visual trills to customize color, hide columns, and drag and drop elements to rearrange them. There's bookmarking information to keep a data point handy, graphs you can double-tap to see a new view, and sometimes secondary graphs that swing up when you tap a button. Though highly interactive, it isn't always intuitive. If you don't know to tap a graph or spin the pie chart to view more details, you may at first miss out. Plus, as RoamBi is currently view-only, it's not yet ready to be used as a collaborative tool across a mobile team.

Though free for individual use, RoamBi's largest user segment will be the corporate set. Integration with, Excel, Crystal Reports, and your company's enterprise server will come at a cost, as will the premium version of RoamBi expected to issue forth later this year.