After writing "How to access Microsoft Office 365 from an Android tablet" and "Access Office 365 with an Android tablet: Lync and SharePoint," I’ve been seeking a better Office 365 client app for Android. SharePoint client apps on Android are still playing catch up with iOS, but harmon.ie recently released harmon.ie for Android. I rank this company as a leader in SharePoint mobile access and have been waiting to see what they can bring to Android.
There are three editions available of harmon.ie for Android:
- Lite Edition with read-only access to Office 365 and SharePoint (free from Google Play)
- Premium Edition that supports read/write access to Office 365 and uploads from the Android device to Office 365 and SharePoint ($19.99 from Google Play)
- Enterprise Edition that includes services above and beyond the Premium Edition (available for purchase directly from harmon.ie)
The harmon.ie for Android app has the following system requirements:
- Office 365 (SharePoint Online), SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Office
- SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007, or Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) version 3.0
- SharePoint Foundation
- Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and later (required)
- Samsung Galaxy (recommended)
The harmon.ie Android app is doing a great job of keeping the user experience the same with the current version of their iOS app. I’m a sucker for standardization across iOS and Android client apps for business applications, especially when they're deployed to enterprise users of varying skill levels. Figure A shows the main page of a SharePoint site in harmon.ie for Android.
The harmon.ie for Android app.
The harmon.ie Android app performed a bit slower for me than the harmon.ie iOS app when I tried to access their demo site via Wi-Fi from a local bakery café that’s a favorite writing haunt of mine. However, I didn’t notice much of a performance difference on my home Wi-Fi network. I didn't find anything that points to the app as the cause of the slowness, but it is something that users of the harmon.ie iOS app might notice.
SharePoint site access
Accessing a SharePoint or SharePoint Online (Office 365) site is pretty standard, based on similar SharePoint mobile client apps. Figure B shows the Add Site dialog box.
Accessing a SharePoint site in harmon.ie for Android.
They keep the Add Site process simple and easy enough, so it doesn’t require much intervention from the IT department.
Navigation through SharePoint sites
Mobile apps can actually help users who have issues accessing SharePoint through a web browser. Users with minimal SharePoint experience (or who have been burned by a SharePoint implementation in the past) should find harmon.ie for Android an easier interface for SharePoint. Figure C shows the sidebar navigation in harmon.ie for Android.
Left sidebar navigation is consistent with the iOS app.
Accessing and managing documents in SharePoint libraries
Accessing documents in the harmon.ie Android app follows a process similar to the iOS app with some important distinctions. First, you have to tap Open with at the bottom of the screen, which downloads the selected document to the local device. An Open with… dialog appears where you choose the app from which you want to open the document (Figure D).
Opening a document.
The harmon.ie Android app also gives you the option to share documents as a link or file attachment.
While these features are super usable, the enterprise often must adhere to a regulatory compliance program, like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) or others.
Another document-related feature that should become a fast favorite of the enterprise and BYOD users is the ability to save documents directly from email to SharePoint. However, saving documents to SharePoint is probably going to be a task you need to drill into your mobile users.
My Site and other social tools
The harmon.ie Android app includes SharePoint My Site support from which you can share photos with team members and upload documents.
One thing I’m still seeking in My Site support of mobile SharePoint apps is the capability to update the My Site blog similar to how enterprise social apps enable mobile users to update their social stream.
The app also enables you to follow documents and view colleague profiles, which should help mobile users keep track of documents and locate subject matter expertise in their company. regardless of whether they're in the office or on the road.
Android, harmon.ie, and BYOD
Recent press says that harmon.ie believes that BYOD is failing. However, from my vantage point, it’s BYOD’s implementation that's failing, because organizations get lost in the myriad of technology, security, and data governance considerations. Now, with Android and iOS versions of their app available, a more powerful message for harmon.ie than “BYOD is failing” is how their Android and iOS apps can resolve that situation in an Office 365 environment.
The harmon.ie iOS and Android apps can either be part of the solution or get lost in the conflicting BYOD messages and solutions that are crowding the current market if they aren’t careful.
I was waiting for harmon.ie to make an entry into the Android world, and they didn’t disappoint me. The work of harmon.ie in both iOS and now Android shows an attention to user experience and features that users need to access SharePoint/Office 365 from mobile devices. With full-featured Android and iOS SharePoint client apps and their existing enterprise expertise, harmon.ie could be the key to ensuring an equal level of SharePoint access among a mixed Android and iOS mobile workforce.
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.