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IBM Goes Mobile with Watson

For two years, IBM has provided the cognitive computing capabilities of its Watson Analytics service via a Web interface, and now it's gone mobile.

Watson, perhaps best known for powering a supercomputer that beat a human champion in the "Jeopardy!" TV game show in 2011 to win a $1 million prize, is one of the leading services in the cutting-edge artificial intelligence/cognitive computing/machine learning space.

It can analyze and interpret data such as unstructured text, images, audio and video; learn on its own to grow its subject matter expertise; provide reasoned recommendations through understanding a user's personality, tone and emotion; create conversational chatbots capable of dialog with humans; and more. IBM has embedded the technology in a slew of open APIs and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products.

Now, in the face of enterprise mobility, mobile-first initiatives and mobile just generally "eating the world," it can be used on Apple's iPad mobile devices.

IBM Watson Analytics Mobile is now available in the Apple App Store.

IBM Watson Analytics Mobile
[Click on image for larger view.] IBM Watson Analytics Mobile (source: IBM)

"IBM Watson Analytics Mobile is a data analysis and visualization service on the cloud that helps just about anyone quickly discover patterns and meanings in their data -- all on their own," the app's description reads. "Watson Analytics Mobile recommends answers based on your questions using natural language and automatically serves up insights and visualizations that enable you to see new and unexpected things in your data."

Its listed features allow users to:

  • Import data -- including Twitter -- and immediately engage with their data.
  • Type or ask questions and quickly see key patterns and trends.
  • Preview their data in the best visualization automatically created from a question.
  • Discover new insights with unbiased data analytics.
  • Use discoveries interchangeably between Watson Analytics and Watson Analytics Mobile.

The app lets users type questions in plain English and then provides automatic suggestions to further guide data analysis.

"The Web-based version has been offering people unbiased insights for the past two years," IBM exec Marc Altshuller said in a recent blog post. "This mobile version extends that experience right to your iPad. Discover interesting or hidden nuggets of information by simply interacting with the app and without having to build anything. It leverages the same powerful natural language engine that allows you to type a question in plain English and immediately see results."

The "freemium" app can directly import data in formats including .xls, xlsx and .csv, which can be done via apps such as Box, Dropbox and OneDrive, including e-mail attachments. More data sources -- along with support for Twitter hashtag analysis -- are available with subscriptions to the enhanced Watson Analytics Plus or Professional editions.

"With this app, you can easily upload data directly into Watson Analytics," Altshuller said. "Imagine you are sitting in a meeting and an unexpected question comes up. You fire up the app, load a data set and share results in real time, eliminating the need for follow up and improving information flow in your organization.

"Watson Analytics is all about making it easy and fast to make operational decisions based on unbiased insights. Watson Analytics Mobile App for the iPad is all about extending that same experience to make the right decision at the right time."

Although this is the first mobile app for the full-fledged Watson service, IBM has for years been extending the cognitive technology in the mobile space. In 2014, for example, it announced the IBM Watson Mobile Developers Challenge to identify three developers to receive assistance from IBM to build new-age Big Data apps, as the company sought to spur development efforts in the growing AI space.

About the Author

David Ramel is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine and Application Development Trends Magazine.

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