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)
I reviewed harmon.ie Premium Edition on a Nexus 10 tablet. David Lavenda, harmon.ie’s VP of strategy, told me that the app isn’t optimized for
the tablet, but I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary with site rendering on the tablet’s screen.
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
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.