When enabling your mobile workforce, the right applications will ensure user productivity. Consider off the shelf applications for usage scenarios where your staff requires access to SharePoint content.
A variety of options are available for accessing Microsoft SharePoint on the iPad. Using the native iPad browser provides a surprisingly decent, though not perfect (e.g. can’t upload documents), SharePoint browsing experience. However, this solution is not tested by Microsoft and the Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog explains the cause for incompatibility.
In summary: Apple Safari 4 or higher for a Mac/PC and Safari for the iPhone OS are not the same. Whereas the desktop version of Safari supports content editable attribute, Safari on the iPhone OS does not. The content editable attribute is used by SharePoint and other collaboration products, such as Office Web Apps, to provide a rich editing experience within a supported browser.
For those that require a richer experience and offline support, several apps are available for download from the Apple App Store. For the purposes of this article, I downloaded the full versions of four such products - Colligo Networks Briefcase Pro 3.0.0, Infragistics SharePlus Mobile Client 3.2, Aircreek Filamente SharePoint Client 1.6.7, and Harmon.ie SharePoint Mobile Client 1.2.3 - to my iPad 2 (64GB IOS 5.1.1); no evaluation copies were used. I then evaluated the installation, configuration (to connect to a Microsoft Office 365 team site), and content browsing, viewing, editing, and uploading experience for each product, as well as for the native iPad browser.
The following table summarizes a comparison of the applications conducted while traveling and in the office within North America.
|Product||Pros & Cons||Vendor|
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When testing these SharePoint applications, the following test environment was utilized:
- Apple iPad 2 64gb IOS 5.1.1
- Installed productivity applications: Keynote (ver 1.6.1), Numbers (ver 1.6.1) and Pages (ver 1.6.1)
- Remote storage applications: DropBox (ver 1.5.3) and SkyDrive (ver 2.1)
- Office 365 small business license: SharePoint Team Site, Office Web Apps
- Various mobile networks: home, coffee shops, airport and hotel with varying quality and speed
- A 65MB dataset consisting of 150 items: documents (i.e., Office documents and Adobe PDFs), pictures, blogs, and discussions
Overall, these products were fairly intuitive, some more polished than others, but they all utilized the native User Interface gestures, such as touch and swipe, which made learning how to use them very easy. These products could also help you reduce cost of ownership longer term.
The mobile professional of today must have access to key applications, information and contacts. All this must be available on mobile devices, especially laptops and smart phones. But most importantly, the culture must be prepared to deal with and support this relatively new way of working. Read this article on how to build a roadmap for mobilizing your workforce from a cultural, office and technology perspective.