Connect your iPhone to Microsoft Office 365

Office 365, the cloud-based collaboration platform from Microsoft, can actually be iPhone-friendly. Will Kelly shows you how to connect your iPhone to Office 365.

Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based collaboration platform, is starting to get a lot of attention from Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) and enterprises wanting to outsource their Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange email, and Unified Communications (UC). While some critics cite Office 365 as not being "mobile enough," the iPhone setup is quite friendly and certainly a time-saver for organizations that are used to managing more complicated smartphone/email server setups in house.

Get access to Office 365

Whether you're a one-man shop, you work for a company that's moving to Office 365, or you just took a job with an employer that uses Office 365, you must have an Office 365 account prior to setting up your iPhone. Depending on your organization's IT and security policies, your email account may require registration the first time you login, so work with your IT people to make sure.

You can find your email settings by signing into your Office 365 account. Then click Outlook to open the Outlook Web App. From there, click Options | See All Options | Account | My Account | Settings for POP, IMAP, and SMTP access (see Figure A). Copy down your email server settings for establishing your Office 365 email account on your iPhone. Figure A

Login to the Outlook Web App to confirm your Office 365 email account.

Mobile security policies and email access

Office 365 does include full mobile policies, including Pin Lock, Remote Wipe, and device encryption. Your Office 365 administrator is able to configure these security policies in Exchange Online under Mail | Options | My Organization. In fact, only an administrator can access these settings.

Setup Microsoft Exchange email

Hosted Microsoft Exchange email is certainly one of the drivers for people and organizations to move to Office 365, and iPhone users don't need to be left out.

The setup in this section was run on an iPhone 4 with iOS 5.1, but it should work with all recent model iPhones, including the 3GS. The same steps will work if you want to connect your iPad to Office 365 as well.

Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support is built into iOS, providing push email, calendar, and contacts. Here are the steps to setup ActiveSync on your iPhone so that you can connect to Office 365 and synchronize your email, calendar, and contacts data between your iPhone and Office 365 account.

  1. Tap Settings | Mail, Contacts, Calendars | Add Account (see Figure B)
  2. Figure B

    Add an email account.
  3. Tap Microsoft Exchange. Enter your full email address in the Email field, plus your Username and Password (see Figure C). Leave the Domain box blank.
  4. Figure C

    Enter your email address, username, and password.
  5. Enter the Exchange Server setup information (provided to you while getting access to Office 365 or from your IT staff), and then tap Next. Your iPhone will try to locate your Exchange Online Server. If your iPhone can't locate the server, you'll need to enter your Office 365 Exchange Server's complete address in the Server field on the Account page (see Figure D).
  6. Figure D

    You may need to enter your Office 365 Exchange Server settings on the Account page.
  7. Choose which content you would like to synchronize: your mail, contacts, and calendars. Tap Save when you have made your selections.

While setting up your iPhone for Office 365, you may be prompted to enter a passcode. Enter in a new passcode of your own creation. Whether or not you have to setup a passcode varies on the security setup as established by your Office 365 administrator.

Accessing other Office 365 features with an iPhone

While email and calendar are obvious for mobile access, you can get limited mobile access to SharePoint Team Sites and access to the Lync Online's Unified Communications (UC) features.

Team Site and document access: While you do have native access to Office 365 Team Sites from your iPhone, it's no frills and not very usable (it only allows you to refer to information). However, access to documents is also available through Office 2010 WebApps. If you require full iPhone access with some interactivity to your Office 365 team site and documents, I suggest resorting to one of the many SharePoint apps — like SharePlus or Moshare — in the App Store. Figure E

Office 365 Team Site as it appears on an iPhone 4.
Microsoft Lync 2010 for iPhone: Part of Microsoft's recent embracing of iOS is the Microsoft Lync 2010 app (see Figure F). This app only works with a Microsoft Office 365/Lync Online account and brings features like presence, Lync conference calls (using only a single touch), Enterprise Voice calls, and Transport Layer Security (TLS) to keep corporate data locked down tight. Figure F

The Microsoft Lync 2010 app is a free download from the App Store.

Office 365 and the iPhone together

By setting up your iPhone with Office 365, you'll get low-hassle mobile email, calendaring, and contacts that won't tax too much of your IT staff's time, whether or not it's for corporate or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) iPhones.

Do you have Office 365 connected to your iPhone? Share you experience and insight in the discussion thread below.


Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

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