Viz: Create Gorgeous Charts On the Go

I always wonder which one of the modern day technological tools that people hate the most. There are two items that should be at the top of almost everybody’s list: email and spreadsheets. Email is dead cheap, it works well until people decide to get lazy and there is always a lot of innovation happening in that domain all the time.

Spreadsheets on the other hand are a symbol of monotony and boredom. They stand right next to PowerPoint presentation slides when it comes to creativity killing potential. Sadly, there isn’t a better way to consolidate numbers.

Viz audaciously tries to take on spreadsheets when in comes to interpreting numbers to your audience. How far can this app go given the limited screen real estate and resources of a smartphone?

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Creating a Slide

Following the footsteps of the new breed of apps, Viz sports a flat design. It’s actually a simple app in the first place. Create a slide and input the numbers you have into the app and you will get a gorgeous presentation with colorful charts.

Getting started with a chart.

Getting started with a chart.

There isn’t a help wizard or helpful tooltips to guide the user along. It would benefit Viz to have either of the two to help cut down the learning curve of professionals that the app targets.

The workflow is simple and straightforward, largely because there aren’t a gamut features akin to a spreadsheet or presentation creation app. You can kickstart the process by giving the project a title and adding labels.

Speaking about the title, the app is in a persistent uppercase mode at all times. It’s extremely annoying to tap the shift key to input lowercase letters. Thankfully, it wasn’t as excruciating when it came to creating the labels.

Adding labels, assigning values and creating a barchart.

Adding labels, assigning values and creating a barchart.

Before we proceed, I have a word of caution for you: do not jump between apps when you are creating a slide. All the data you enter is gone as soon as the app moves into the background. This is totally unacceptable and is a bug that needs to fixed ASAP.

Besides, when you have a handful of labels and the keyboard is up when you are entering data, it’s not possible to scroll beyond the labels on display. I had to dismiss the keyboard by tapping on the screen, scrolling down and then start to enter data. Surefire quirks to land coveted one-star reviews!

Charts and Graphs

I got out of the grumpy mood after seeing the charts and graphs in the offing. There are five of them in total, and they all look impeccable. Tap on the type of chart you prefer and your numbers are all now represented in a format that’s easy to comprehend. For most part, the charts look professional and you can definitely send them across to a client with confidence.

Colorful pie and cloud charts.

Colorful pie and cloud charts.

The choice of colors are limited to just five different themes right now, and the absence of a custom color scheme is jarring.

The problem with Viz is that it’s way too simplistic; it doesn’t do anything beyond the basics. The concept of “a simple app” doesn’t fit Viz. It costs $1.99. Even free apps are rocking color palettes like skittles and you don’t get that option in a charts and graphs app? Also, the use cases of the charts created by the app are fairly limiting.

More gorgeous charts.

More gorgeous charts.

I admired the speed and efficiency of the app, though. Even mainstream apps developed by the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter stutter a lot before the entire app loads. Viz created charts without any noticeable lag and even with a crazy combination of chart types and color schemes the charts rendered instantly. A bonus brownie point for that!

Social sharing and export options.

Social sharing and export options.

Social sharing part of the equation is covered comprehensively. You can also export the chart as an image to the camera roll and directly mail it across to someone. Once you are done, you can archive the slide or discard it. Archived slides can be accessed from the launch screen and they can be re edited as well.

Final Thoughts

The developer claims they’re going against spreadsheets. After using it for a while, I can only partly agree with this claim. The app without doubt makes sense of the numbers you feed to it, but I would love to see Viz get past the basic side-by-side comparison chart and start tackling a bit more complex options. This is a fairly uncharted domain and there definitely is so much money on the table for that perfect app.

It has a real potential to give PowerPoint a run for its money, though. But that is a distant dream that can’t materialize by just being a mobile app. I wish Viz would expand to the iPad and eventually to OS X in the days to come.

Viz is a brave new attempt at slaying the evil dragon that is spreadsheet. A tiny attempt if you ask me, but Viz has a great headstart!


Summary

Viz offers a quick way to create simple charts on your iPhone.

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