iPhone App Grade: B
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The Interactive Brokers mobileTWS (Trader Workstation) iPhone app offers a high quality mobile trading experience. Accessing account information and positions is fully detailed yet still easy to use. Looking up stock quotes and retrieving market data could be handled better. Charts are nicely designed but could use a few extra features. Market news is provided by Interactive Brokers analysts and is thus quite limited. The scanners and alerts tools are very nice features and are worth the time to learn. Stock trading is well done and should handle the needs of most users. Options trading could be improved by adding a menu for options chains but the detailed quote pages with contract price charts helps to make up for this oversight. Taken as a whole, the Interactive Brokers mobileTWS iPhone app is one of the better mobile trading platforms.
App Store Facts:
- App Name: mobileTWS
- Version: 2.3
- App Size: 3.5 MB
- User Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Here is the mobileTWS welcome page. Quotes, charts, scanners and market briefings can be accessed without logging in. For all other features, logging in is mandatory:
User names are stored automatically but passwords and pass code card entry are required to be re-entered. Note that if users close the app for a few minutes they will automatically be logged back in, unless the session has timed out.
The account menu contains various aggregate account metrics such as cash, equity and other security balances, margin levels, excess funds available for trading and more.
The portfolio menu shows a list of current holdings, their current value and the gain / loss for each position. Selecting any position will bring up the quote page for that security.
The quotes menu contains a user customizable list of securities with their current prices and percent changes. Users have to add a security to their list to access its corresponding quote page. This is inconvenient when users wants to look at the quote page quickly and they does not anticipate keeping track of that security in the future.
Individual quote pages contain the most recent price, daily high price, daily low price and daily volume. We are not eligible for free real time market data nor do we pay for any market data so we are forced to view delayed quotes within mobileTWS. Along with this, the high, low and volume information is not present either. Between the market data restrictions and the poor interface, mobileTWS is not a good solution for those looking for a quick and easy tool to get the latest market quotes.
At the bottom of individual quote pages are the charts. Charts can be viewed for time frames of 1d, 1w, 1m, 3m, 6m, 1y, 2y and 5y. Here is a three month mountain chart for Bank of America (BAC):
Turning the iPhone in horizontal mode reveals an expanded version of the chart. Here is a one year chart of BAC in horizontal mode:
The charts are clear and attractive but a few extra features such as chart style, technical analysis tools and the ability to compare multiple securities in a single chart would be nice.
IB Market Brief
Market news and commentary is limited to the IB Market Brief section, which contains daily commentary for the options, FX and interest rates markets and is provided by Interactive Brokers analysts. Here is a look at the most recent Options briefing:
Those looking for more in depth commentary and news provided by such agencies as Bloomberg and Reuters need to look elsewhere.
Scanners are user customizable rules that are used to filter out particular securities or markets. These work in the same way as a typical stock screener but go beyond just stocks and have very specific parameters. For example, here is a scanner we created to show the top percentage gainers in Asian futures markets. This is a very cool feature:
Alerts are user customizable rules that will email or text message users based on specific criteria. For example, here is the alert logic we set up to notify us when the price of Chevron (CVX) falls below $70.00 a share. This is a nice feature to have but many brokers offer far more advanced alert configurations:
To trade stocks in mobileTWS, select the Order Ticket menu option. From there enter the desired symbol or search for the symbol from within the same menu. This brings up a list of security types, including stocks, futures and options. Select stocks to bring up the quote page for that particular security. From the quote page select to buy or sell the security.
This brings up the trade ticket with the symbol populated, 100 shares as the default quantity and an order type of limit with the last trade price populated. Stock order types include market, limit, stop loss, stop limit, relative and trailing. This is a respectable selection of order types but is reduced from the order types available with the full desktop version of Interactive Brokers. For our order of Cisco (CSCO), we changed the quantity to 1 and the time in force from Day to GTC (good until canceled, which is held in Interactive Brokers system for roughly 3 months) and then selected the Transmit button:
A confirmation window appeared asking us to confirm the transmission. We again selected Transmit which submitted our order and brought up the Order Status screen. From here, open orders can be modified or canceled. Both actions work fine except that there is no way to view canceled orders. A trade history menu would be really helpful in this situation.
A view of existing positions is available from within the Portfolio menu. Select a position to retrieve the quote page for that security. From this page, a Close button is available, which will load the trade ticket with the symbol, quantity and limit price automatically populated. This is pretty good functionality.
To trade options in mobileTWS, select the Order Ticket menu option. From there enter the desired symbol or search for the symbol from within the same menu. We typed in CSCO for Cisco. This brought up a list of security types, including stocks, futures and options. We selected options which brought up a date selection menu where we chose July 2010. The next menu asked for the contract type and strike price. An options chain menu with recent trading prices would be ideal for this situation. Without having the ability to view options chains we chose $25 calls. This brought us to the contract details page where we could see the most recent pricing information and an options contract price chart. From here we selected the Buy button which loaded the options order trade ticket.
Options can only be traded with basic buy / sell order types such as market, limit and stop. There are not multi leg orders like the full list offered with the desktop version of Interactive Brokers. By default, the quantity is set to 1, the order type is limit and the limit price is the price of the last trade. Everything looked OK so we selected the Transmit button on our order:
A confirmation window appeared asking us to confirm the transmission. We accepted which submitted our order and brought up the Order Status screen. From here, open orders can be modified or canceled. Both actions work fine except that there is no way to view canceled orders. A trade history menu would be really helpful in this situation.
A view of existing positions is available from within the Portfolio menu. Select a position to retrieve the quote page for that security. From this page, a Close button is available, which will load the trade ticket with the contract, quantity and limit price automatically populated. This is pretty good functionality.
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