Mobility A BYOD iPad app for SharePoint users

Will Kelly reviews SharePoint Mobile Client, an iPad app that's BYOD-friendly.

I previously wrote a post on TechRepublic called "Top iPad apps for accessing SharePoint." Readers in the discussion thread told me about SharePoint Mobile Client. This app is now high on my list in terms of usability and design, which is why I'm recommending it for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives. With a little bit of training upfront, BYOD users can use to access corporate SharePoint and Office 365 sites with ease.

You can check out Lite: SharePoint Mobile Client for free. However, the Premium Edition costs $19.99 (USD). When you open the app for the first time, it takes you right to a list of SharePoint sites. This app is very responsive and gets down to business with no added levels of complexity. Tap on a site, and you're taken right to it. Then you can access document folders and other materials on the site. Figure A shows the Sample Site open in SharePoint Mobile Client. Figure A

A SharePoint site in SharePoint Mobile Client.

Working with documents

Another critical element of SharePoint client apps on the iPad is document access. Tap on a document in SharePoint Mobile Client to open its Document Info page. Whether or not you're a SharePoint purist, you'll find a page that's well laid out with nice-sized icons to perform various tasks. Figure B shows the Document Info page for an Excel spreadsheet. Figure B

Document Info page in SharePoint Mobile Client.

You can check out documents just like you can when accessing a SharePoint document library through a PC's web browser — but with some nice iPad twists. Tap to open the Document Info page for the document. Then, depending on your privileges, you have the option to check out (for editing) or just view the document using the requisite iPad productivity app, which is nice. It's a straightforward process without proprietary tools to get in the way.

People in SharePoint Mobile Client

While there have been considerable advancements in the sophistication of iPad access to SharePoint, the next evolution in the cycle is going to have these apps tap more into people — document authors, team members, stake holders, and other important players in the project life cycle. Some industry experts are calling this "Social SharePoint." Tap on People to access your contact list and profiles of participants on the site. Figure C shows an example of how SharePoint Mobile Client renders a profile. Figure C

A profile in SharePoint Mobile Client.

Social tools are becoming part of SharePoint strategies from Microsoft, third-party vendors, and large enterprises. Even is letting mobile users get in on the act by allowing them to add colleagues to their profiles and take advantage of activity streams for collaboration. Users can also update an activity stream with information about their status. Activity streams can be a more powerful collaboration tool for mobile workforces than email, because it's easier for users to get a view over the status of your other team members at a glance.

Working with settings

The SharePoint Mobile Client includes settings that govern the configuration of SharePoint Social Servers, passcode for updates, setting a passcode lock, app location history, caching, connection, and logs. In a BYOD initiative, I'd really hope to see the option to lock some or all of these settings down from end users. SharePoint Mobile Client in the enterprise

There are some great apps available for accessing SharePoint from an iPad, but takes the time to focus on the enterprise. The Enterprise Edition includes tools for centralized provisioning and deployment of the app.

Their Enterprise Edition might be worth investigating as a corporate standard app for BYOD initiatives, because it can bring another level of control over SharePoint access from BYOD iPads — especially app settings.

Find in SharePoint

The SharePoint Mobile Client, with its focus on usability, the enterprise, and social tools, makes it attractive for BYOD users. If I dare say, it's one of the friendlier SharePoint client apps for the iPad on the market, and it's my choice as a standard SharePoint app on the iPad for BYOD.

Which app do you use to access SharePoint from your iPad or Android tablet? Share you experience in the discussion thread below.

Also read

TechRepublic and ZDNet delve deeper into this topic in a special report page: BYOD and the Consumerization of IT.

About Will Kelly

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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