One of many excellent free tools provided by Google, Google Analytics is a hugely popular way to assess how many people visit your website, how many pages they view, and where they come from - among many, many other metrics. But true to Google's 'everything online' philosophy, there is no Google-made app to access this information via tablet or smartphone. There are plenty of third-party apps for Android, however, of which Analytix HD is a fine example.
Analytix HD is aimed primarily at tablets running Google Android 'Honeycomb'. Early Android tablet users, or those with smartphones, should look to plain old Analytix. Before you install bear in mind two things: to use an app such as Analytix you'll have to give what may be critical company data to a third party, and if you lose your mobile device you could be giving away that data to anyone who finds the device.
Once installed the first thing that strikes you about Analytix HD is how good-looking it is. All shiny black with rainbow-coloured blosk. Next, you'll be bowled over by how easy it is to use. By virtue of downloading it from the App Center to your Google account, Analytix HD will log in to your personal Google profile, and your stats will be there waiting. Don't worry if, like us, your personal logon is not the account which is associated with the website you wish to analyse - a whopping great 'Add an account' button on the home screen requires you to upload only an email and a password and you are away.
If, like us, you have access to data for multiple sites, you'll like the ability in Analytix to favourite certain profiles. You can't view different sites' data side by side, but Google doesn't allow that in GA's native form, and in this case it takes only a click to switch between Profiles. A drop-down from the top-right of the screen offers easy switching between accounts.
Data is laid out beneath the headings Dashboard, Charts, Visits, Content, System, E-Commerce and Events, and you can drill down to see information by periods of Year, 3 Months, Month, Week, 4 Days or Day. Or to put it another way: you can get to most of the important data that Google Analytics offers, albeit not to the level of granularity that GA offers in its native form. You can't, for instance, see data by the hour. But, whisper it, it's easier to use in app form - at least on a superficial level - than is the web-based Google Analytics. And if you're looking for a quick snapshot on the move, that may be the most important thing.
Initially, at least, there were some aspects of the interface that left us pining for Google's web GUI. We thought geographical data, for instance, was displayed only as a list, without Google's helpful global heat map. We'd missed one crucial button, however. Once you've set up Favourites, on opening the app you can click a small orange star next to each Favourite account. Clicking this takes you straight to all the key data you can quickly digest. It's a great feature, although we suspect many users will miss it.
Preferences allow you to select to start only with your favourite profiles, and you can set a start date, and choose not to include incomplete data from the day on which you are using the app. This can be useful as Google Analytics tends to take an hour or two to catch up, and this can make for poor comparitive data.
One grumble we did have with Analytix HD was the inability to compare data. Any serious web analytics junkie likes to compare data year-on-year and month-on-month.