Mobile collaboration is becoming an important factor for large
and small enterprises. Two of my previous posts, Top iPad apps for accessing SharePoint and A BYOD iPad app for SharePoint users, show that there are a growing number of excellent third-party apps for mobile
SharePoint collaboration. Huddle, a
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) collaboration platform, is challenging SharePoint on the iPad with the Huddle iOS app. (Note: Huddle also has an Android app.)

The Huddle iOS app meets all of my criteria for mobile
collaboration. It has an excellent user experience that should make the app easy
for mobile users of all levels to adopt. 

Huddle activity

Once you login to the Huddle iOS app, your activity stream
appears (Figure A). It occupies roughly half of an iPad’s Retina screen. The Activity
stream is visually appealing and easy to read. 

Figure A

Huddle Activity

From the Activity stream, you get a view of recent activity
across all your Huddle workspaces that impact you. There’s no need to
enter the individual workspaces to get status updates.

Manage files
with the Huddle iOS app

Access to your documents in Huddle is available from the
activity stream or by tapping on Files in the bottom corner of the app. When
you tap on a file, the Details screen for the file appears. Figure B shows an example of the
Details page for a PDF document.

Figure B

Details page in
the Huddle iOS app.

From the Details page, you have the option to comment on,
assign, and approve documents. The IT technical writer side of me finds the
“out-of-the-box” document approval capability to be quite appealing,
because it has potential to get organizations away from dead tree reviews and
offers another tool to engage busy reviewers. When you receive a document for
approval, it will show up in your activity stream. After reviewing the
document, you can enter a note in the
Review and then tap Send Back or Approve. When you tap on Approve, the top
description field turns green, and the Approve or Send Back button changes to
Approved. You can’t change a document from Approved in this view. Figure C shows a document ready for

Figure C

Document ready for

You can also comment on a document from the Details screen. At
the current time, the Huddle iOS app doesn’t support threaded comments.

Along with comments, you can favorite documents in your Huddle
workspaces, which contributes to the collaboration experience for mobile
workforces because users can see the documents their coworkers favor.

The Huddle iOS app includes a well-crafted Share File dialog
where you can select everyone, workspace team members, or an individual for
document sharing. Additionally, users in larger enterprises can search for
users from a dialog box. Figure D
shows an example of the Select Recipients dialog box.

Figure D

Select Recipients dialog box.

Since the Huddle iOS app is a collaboration app, not an Office
productivity app, you can open up files in your Huddle workspace on your iPad that
supports the file format from the app’s Action button.

The only thing I’d like to see in the Document Details screen
is a smooth way to exit the document. However, the Huddle iOS app doesn’t have
an actual home screen, unless that’s considered the Activity stream.

Manage tasks
with Huddle

The Huddle iOS app provides full access to tasks across your Huddle
workspaces. There isn’t an inbox for tasks — instead, you have to save
the tasks to workspaces. You can also assign tasks directly to
another Huddle workspace user.

Entering tasks in the Huddle iOS app is very easy. The New Task dialog box is a shining
example of the app’s user-friendly experience (Figure

Figure E

New Task dialog

Tapping on a task from the Activity stream or from the Tasks
List brings up a Details screen similar to Figure

Figure F

Details about the

From the Details screen, you can add comments on the task and
set task dates. At the current time, you cannot reassign the task to other Huddle workspace members using the iOS app.

Because a Huddle user’s task list may grow across different
workspaces, the iOS app has a filter feature where you can search by All My
Tasks, Assigned To Me, and Created by Me. The search can be set to include an
individual or all your assigned workspaces. The Search Filter is well spaced
out, which I like for mobile (and sometimes harried) workers.

Huddle features
for the mobile workforce

The Huddle iOS app includes a syncing feature with patent-pending predictive technology that shows you content that’s active and
relevant across your Huddle workspaces. 
These files are then downloaded to your device. This feature should be
appealing to those users who travel frequently or are often without mobile

You can also upload files from your iOS mail inbox, because Open in
Huddle now appears in the Action menu. When you open a file in Huddle,
you can choose a workspace location for the file.

Final thoughts

I finished this post the day that Microsoft released Office
Mobile for iOS (though only with native iPhone support). While the Huddle iOS
app and the new Office Mobile for iOS are for two different use cases (mobile
collaboration vs. Office productivity), I clearly expect that enterprise mobility
is going to factor into Huddle’s challenge to SharePoint. In fact, Huddle meets
or exceeds the level of excellence in the SharePoint iPad apps I’ve previously
profiled. This is a definite selling point
for the Huddle collaboration platform.