It used to be that if your employees were traveling and needed to access documents on SharePoint, they’d have to lug around a laptop and pray for a wireless connection. Ultimately, SharePoint was never initially designed for mobile use. That’s not the case anymore. SharePoint 2013 now delivers enhanced features for mobile devices, further expanding collaboration options for on-the-go users.
SharePoint 2013 now includes a new “Contemporary View” available to mobile devices. This is a straight-forward improvement of SharePoint 2010’s mobile view, which is still included in 2013 for older browser compatibility and has been renamed “Classic View.” The contemporary view offers some mobile optimizations and is available in most mobile browsers supporting HTML5 including: Windows Phone 7.5, iOS 5.0, and Android 4.0. More details on specific browser requirements can be found on Microsoft’s TechNet.
One of the more useful new mobile features, device channels allow SharePoint administrators and designers/developers to display the same content with different master pages, page layouts, and CSS targeted to specific mobile devices or types of mobile devices. This allows optimized layouts to be created for different devices, somewhat contrasting the trend of using HTML5 and responsive design to create a universal layout. These two concepts can be combined rather effectively however to create responsive designs optimized for different categories of devices (think tablets vs. phones), which is where the real strength of device channels lies.
Something often seen as a necessity in the mobile world today, push notifications are a new feature in SharePoint 2013. Using the Microsoft Push Notification Services, notifications can be pushed to registered mobile devices running the Windows Phone operating system. What about all of you Google or Apple mobile device users you might ask? Unfortunately, there is no out of the box solution for Android or iOS devices. We’ll let you decide whether or not this was an intentional slight on Microsoft’s behalf.
Microsoft has added a Geolocation field type, allowing developers and power users to utilize this out of the box field to store GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude). This integrates with Bing Maps and opens a lot of doors for creating mobile-centric SharePoint solutions.
Office Web Apps
Office Web Apps allows users to interact with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on their mobile phone. With SharePoint 2013, this application has been separated from SharePoint Server and established as a separate product, allowing for further flexibility in farm architecture, something that can greatly benefit environments that see a large amount of mobile device use.
While SharePoint 2013 certainly has made some noteworthy improvements for mobile use in particular, there are still some loose ends that need to be addressed. Allowing only select operating system compatibility for certain features undermines the point of creating mobile accessibility – what’s the point if it only benefits a modest number of Windows device users? Finally, UI isn’t the most friendly, especially when it comes to easy navigation. That said, our SharePoint consultants are looking forward to future mobile enhancements on SharePoint as this new concept takes hold.
Are you looking for an iOS mobile app that puts the power of SharePoint in the palm of your hand? Pssst…here’s an exclusive look! Our Mobile App Development team is about to launch The Unbounded Mobile App for SharePoint. Soon you’ll be able to review files, calendars and make edits on the go. Keep posted for more information.
We want to know: have you tried using SharePoint 2013 on your mobile device? What features did you find beneficial, and what functionalities would you like to see implemented? Comment below!