MATLAB Mobile brings MATLAB to the iPhone and iPad (sort of)

May 24th, 2010 | Categories: iPhone, math software, matlab | Tags:

The Mathworks have released a new app for iPhone and iPad called MATLAB Mobile.  When I first saw the headlines I was very excited but the product is rather disappointing in my opinion since all it does is offer a mobile interface to an instance of MATLAB running on a desktop machine.  While this might be useful to some people I have to admit that it doesn’t light any fires for me.  I’ll save my excitement for a mobile MATLAB application that can actually do some mathematics locally.


How about you though?  Will this new application be useful for the way you work?

More articles from Walking Randomly on mobile mathematics software

  1. Mikhail
    May 24th, 2010 at 14:47
    Reply | Quote | #1

    MATLAB is just an emulator of a pocket calculator on PC/MAC. On a handheld device MATLAB is a … pocket calculator. What else do you expect?

  2. raphael
    May 24th, 2010 at 17:17
    Reply | Quote | #2

    @Mikhail Do you even know what MATLAB is?

  3. bootstrap
    May 25th, 2010 at 02:16
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Matlab is a tool for computation. Would you rather do the computing on your server (cluster) or your phone’s baby CPU?

    I think the app sounds useful as hell. It would be 10x cooler as a web app though!

  4. May 25th, 2010 at 09:13
    Reply | Quote | #4

    @bootstrap – The CPU of an iPad is more than adequate for a lot of everyday computation. Remember that MATLAB has been around for over 20 years and both the iPhone and the iPad are significantly more powerful than what we had on our desktops 20 years ago.

    I would love to have at least a MATLAB-lite on the iPad that has a significant subset of the language. Failing that I’ll take Octave.

    The closest so far is this:

  5. Matt
    May 25th, 2010 at 19:03
    Reply | Quote | #5

    Not having an i*, it doesn’t make much difference to me, but if I *did* have one, I could envisage using this app to fire up MATLAB jobs remotely, without having to find a computer, log in, ssh/remote desktop, etc etc. I would have loved it when I was in academia and doing long runtime simulations.

    I don’t actually know how apps run on an i*, but could you run a MATLAB process that took 4 hours? Can it run in the background, while the device is ‘off’? And would it murder the battery?

    That’s the most likely use-case I can see for this app. On the train, fire it up, check the status of your simulation, save the results, have a quick look at them, tweak some parameters, start up a new simulation and leave it to cook. End result: less downtown and wasted clock cycles.

  6. May 26th, 2010 at 01:02
    Reply | Quote | #6

    Hi Matt

    I think the usage case you suggest is the most likely use for this app and I can certainly see how that might be useful.

    Running a calc for 4 hours on an i* is not going to be a good idea. The OS does not multitask for start! You can do a lot of cool calcs in a fraction of a second though.
    Native iPad MATLAB would probably be good enough for 90% of undergraduate maths,physics and chemistry I think.

  7. Matt
    May 26th, 2010 at 14:09
    Reply | Quote | #7

    @Mike Croucher
    Agreed, a simple native i* MATLAB would be much more useful for an undergrad. I can’t envisage doing a MechE 101 homework assignment on this implementation, other than for the geek-cred of saying that you did. But, then again, I’m not one of the cool young things that can text faster than speak, so who knows…?

    Anyway, I assume the decision was made to create something quickly and cheaply that would be useful to professional researchers and engineers, rather than go to all the effort to port MATLAB to a new OS (just to keep a few poor, dirty students happy!). Would licensing would be tricky? And what about toolboxes and whathaveyou? (I have no clue about such things — any ideas?)

    BTW, for those who want i*-native MATLAB-lite, maybe this would be useful:
    (again, disclaimer: I don’t own an i*, so I have no idea how good this is, but the reviews are positive)

  8. Joplin
    May 26th, 2010 at 16:06
    Reply | Quote | #8

    If you want to work on your way home, take your laptop with you and use the normal MATLAB.

    I can’t understand how somebody that worked his ass off for 12+ hours will want to have a lite version of MATLAB on his iSomething to “work” on his way home.

    To do what, to play around with plot and surf? You can’t do serious work with the iSomethings, they are too slow. A “decent” simulation takes a respectful amount of time to run even on a Core 2 Duo processor.

  9. Joplin
    May 26th, 2010 at 17:41
    Reply | Quote | #9

    Sorry about my previous comment.

    I haven’t seen that MATLAB mobile is essentially a remote front end for a home or office computer running MATLAB. So that’s cool!

    If of course you are moving in space that there is some kind of decent wireless network, you or your employer are not concerned too much about wireless network security issues or if somebody else pays for your mobile phone internet connection (in the case there is no wireless network).

  10. May 27th, 2010 at 02:03

    Any ideas if this app will interface with an instance of MATLAB running on a network? We’ve got a concurrent network license for MATLAB at my college and it would be totally sweet if I could run MATLAB via our network license on my iPod touch.

  11. May 27th, 2010 at 02:23

    Just played around with the app. Seems unlikely you could use this to run an instance of MATLAB straight from a server – it involves installing a “connector” program and the running the program on a specific machine and then connecting the iPod/iPad/iPhone to that machine. The app seems to need an actual machine running MATLAB to work.

    I like the app. Don’t see myself using it much other than for the “wow” factor. Perhaps this is Mathworks doing a warm-up to a full-blown native iPhone OS version of MATLAB in the future.

  12. mjc
    May 31st, 2010 at 05:54

    FOr a number of years, calerga (at has offered for free LyMe, a surprisingly powerful subset of Matlab for good old Palm OS. I have it on both my Treo 755 and Palm Zire 22.
    Here is its description: LyME is a port of LME (“Lightweight Math Engine”, the heart of Sysquake) to Palm OS handheld devices. It implements more than 420 native commands, functions and operators, mostly compatible with Matlab, and 70 functions written in LME. It requires Palm OS 3.1 or higher and at least 1.5 MBytes of free memory. Palm OS 3.5 or higher is preferred; Palm OS 5 offers optimal performance and functionality.

    If they made this available for iPhone or Android, I am sure it would be very popular.

  13. Zaurak
    January 19th, 2011 at 13:22

    Anyone has the matlab connector for matlab mobile? Unfortunately i am not able to buy not even a student license, to get the download link. Please share it if you have it. Thanks

  14. maracucho
    April 11th, 2011 at 16:24

    Did you find the Matlab Connector for mobile) I am looking for it too.

  15. April 11th, 2011 at 16:42

    You can only download the MATLAB connector for Mobile if you have a valid Mathworks account. Once you have this you can log-in to The Mathwork’s site and download the connector.

    If you have a legitimate license for MATLAB then you will be able to get such an account for free.

  16. Michael Hughes
    August 19th, 2011 at 05:36

    This web app (link below) should be pretty useful on an i*. It’s an instance of octave running on a server in the sky, so it wont do all thing matlab, but should be 90% the way there… I don’t own an ipad so I haven’t tested it on one. However, it works great on a laptop.