The mobility of the iPad and Microsoft SharePoint don't have to be at odds when your organization is deploying iPads to employees. There are a growing number of apps available in the App Store that can help iPad users access and navigate SharePoint sites.
Mobile Safari compatibility with SharePoint 2010
At first glance, accessing a SharePoint site from Mobile Safari seems like a no-brainer, because the iPad has a browser. However, Mobile Safari and Safari on the Mac aren't the same applications. It comes down to support for the contenteditable attribute that SharePoint 2010 uses for rich text editing. The desktop version of Safari supports the attribute, but Mobile Safari doesn't.
That being said, there is a server-side workaround, but a standard SharePoint client for the iPad users in your organization is a safer bet if your operations depend on SharePoint. If your organization is using Office 365 to host SharePoint sites, then you need to look for an app that also supports Office 365.
SharePlusSharePlus is the very first iPad app I tried for accessing a SharePoint site. With this free app, I saw the iPad and SharePoint come together in a new user experience, because it applies the iPad user interface standards to navigating SharePoint (which some end users have trouble with). It enables you to add, edit, and delete list items and interact with SharePoint tasks, calendars, custom lists, discussion boards, documents, and subsites (see Figure A).
If document management features over SharePoint documents are a requirement for your mobile users, SharePlus can send and receive documents using the "OPENIN" feature. It has the same sort of check in/check out feature you enjoy in SharePoint. SharePlus supports SharePoint 2007/2010 and Office 365.
Most importantly, SharePlus has a local files folder for receiving documents and gives you the option to store files locally on your iPad.Figure A
SharePlus lets you interact with SharePoint and Office 365 team sites.
Colligo Briefcase Pro
Colligo Briefcase Pro is a well-designed SharePoint iPad app, available for $14.99 (USD), that offers granular control over document access.It allows you control over which SharePoint libraries and lists (including by View) you want to synchronize with your iPad (see Figure B). I like this option for mobile users who are going to spend more time accessing their SharePoint sites over 3G/4G vs. Wi-Fi, because it can help with data costs. It supports access to SharePoint 2007/2010 and Office 365 sites.
Offline storage is limited to the free space on the iPad, which is ideal for corporate iPad users who have heavy offline data requirements, such as field engineers.
Colligo Briefcase Pro lets you view any of the files on the SharePoint site that you access on your iPad, including Microsoft Office, PDFs, and images. You can also open the files via Documents to Go, GoodReader, or similar iPad apps.
The search feature lets you search for documents through synced content and setup favorites for searches. This sort of flexibility is what mobile workers need in an iPad SharePoint app.Figure B
Colligo Briefcase Pro offers granular control over your SharePoint libraries and lists.
CoaxionCoaxion from Moprise is not just built around accessing SharePoint from an iPad but for full mobile collaboration. With the free version of Coaxion, you can access SharePoint 2007, 2010, and Office 365 team sites with the added bonus of being able to access documents via Dropbox. With an in-app upgrade, you can also access Box cloud storage accounts (see Figure C).
This app has a fresh approach to its user interface, and it's easy to use for all levels of users, which makes it an even better app choice for mobile users who need access to corporate documents in SharePoint and in the cloud.
Coaxion differs from other apps by what you can do once you check a document out from SharePoint. When you tap on a file to open it, you have the option to download it to your iPad, where you can edit the document in QuickOffice and then save the revision back to the SharePoint site. The other option is to open up an SSL-encrypted online meeting, where you can collaborate on the document with another Coaxion user. When you conclude the online session, Coaxion removes the documents from the iPads that were part of the online session and leaves the original documents intact in SharePoint and/or Dropbox.Figure C
Coaxion lets you access your corporate documents on SharePoint and Dropbox
When the iPad meets SharePoint
There's no reason SharePoint users can't have access to your organization's SharePoint sites with one of these apps, regardless of whether they're in the office, their home office, or on the road. In fact, for some users, these apps may even provide an easier tool for accessing and interacting with SharePoint site data than the web browsers on their PCs.
What apps do you use to access SharePoint in your organization? Please share your experience 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 applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.