Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Initial Thoughts on Using the iPad for Trading

Thanks to all who offered up some comments on their experiences using the iPad for trading. Today I will summarize the feedback I have received from other traders, then comment on my own initial experiences with the iPad 2.

Traders express positive feelings about four iPad apps in particular. Two of the four were broker applications:

  • thinkorswim mobile – now that thinkorswim and T.D. Ameritrade are finally showing some signs of integration, the TOS and TDA apps are surprisingly similar
  • Mobile TWS – TWS is the Trader WorkStation app from Interactive Brokers
Two others were general applications that are aimed in replicating desktop functionality:
  • LogMeIn Ignition – According to the company web site, and confirmed by several users, “One touch on your iPhone or iPad lets you remotely access your computers anywhere, anytime and manage your files on the go. Directly control your desktop as if you’re sitting in front of it, access your computer applications as if they were on your iPad, and view or manage files directly from your iPad/iPhone.”
  • Air Display – works like a wireless monitor
My experiences with the iPad encompass limited exploratory work over the course of two trading sessions, but I thought I would share my thoughts nonetheless.

As a desktop complement, I find that the iPad has limited utility. Perhaps the largest value would be in offloading some peripheral trading or general computing functionality, such as monitoring news events and the like.

As a mobile computing device, I believe the iPad has considerable potential, not just for news, but for analysis, trade execution, position monitoring and the like. I found the thinkorswim and Interactive Brokers trading apps to be excellent and I was also pleasantly surprised by the Fidelity iPad app, which I would put at least on par with the TOS and IB apps as my top three broker apps that I have examined.

As an options trader, I also looked briefly at the apps from optionsXpress and OptionsHouse and while these are fine initial efforts, in my opinion, they have a way to go before they can be considered in the same league as the three mentioned above.

CNBC (CNBC Real Time) and Bloomberg (Bloomberg for iPad and Bloomberg Anywhere, which is the full Bloomberg terminal) also have apps. I experimented with CNBC and Bloomberg for iPad and came away with the impression that these are both adequate general-purpose applications, but traders will likely prefer the offerings from their brokers, including those who are looking for better charting applications.

I have done very little trading with my iPhone over the years, but it does help me keep on top of any sort of extreme market conditions when I am traveling, but it always feels as if I am about 95% in the dark in terms of news and what is really moving the markets. With the iPad, I can see iPad trading as being almost comparable to laptop-based trading, but in an more transportable form factor and perhaps a simpler and more direct user interface.

I eagerly await the next generation of trading apps.

Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments below and/or suggest some additional iPad trading apps.

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