More and more people now use mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to access the Internet. You don’t need to look much further than Facebook to see a clear trend in this area. In their recent accounting update they revealed that the number of users accessing the site on a mobile device was up by 54% on year, to 751 million people. Mark Zuckerburg, founder and CEO, recently stated that Facebook is now a 'mobile first company.' These trends are also represented in all other areas of Internet usage; the enterprise market is no different. Microsoft knew this when they were building the latest release of Office 365 suite, and mobile continues to be a major focus for the platform as updates roll out.
With that in mind, let us look at 5 features of Office 365 designed with mobile use in mind.
1. Lync 2013 for mobile clients
A big part of Office 365 is Lync, the real time collaboration and chat tool. Not only can this tool be used online and using a desktop client, but Microsoft have made a number of mobile clients available for other devices. Currently apps are available for:
- Windows phone
More details can be found here.
2. Office web apps
Microsoft has done a really nice job of integrating Office web apps with SharePoint Online. Being able to browse a document in a document library and then open it seamlessly for editing in the browser is a really slick experience. The latest version of the web apps are much more powerful than their 2010 versions and mobile access has also improved.
- The ‘Office Mobile Viewers’ are only designed to provided ‘view’ access to documents, and they make use of the device's browsers rather than dedicated apps. But they do now render content much more accurately, something that previously wasn’t always the case.
- There is a much rumoured full ‘Office suite’ app for iOS and Android coming later next year which will offer full editing features. Until that arrives this is just a very good, but view only, experience.
- For many, OneNote is the unsung hero of the Microsoft Office suite. It is a quick note taking app designed to capture free form thoughts and handwritten or typed notes. As such it is perfect for use on the move, in a meeting, or on the commute to or from work.
- Whilst the application was originally seen as a Windows tablet (or ‘slate’ as they were known way back when) killer app, it has had a bit of mobile rebirth on smartphones. Dedicated mobile apps can be downloaded for iPhone and Android devices, and a client comes built in with Windows phones (as part of the Office hub).
4. Access your Exchange email
- This is a bit of a no brainer, but of course your Exchange Online email can be accessed on your phone or tablet. Instructions vary from device to device but there is a good overview here.
5. SharePoint Online on mobile
- SharePoint 2013, as part of Office 365, has seen lots of improvements that make it play much more nicely with mobile browsers. Code has been cleaned up, use of HTML and CSS is much more ‘mobile friendly’ and developers can use a feature called 'device channels‘ to target specific content at specific devices.
- In addition to this, there are quite a number of dedicated mobile apps out there that let users browse and interact with SharePoint. One of our favourites is SharePlus. Available for a wide range of devices (iOS, Android, Mac, and Playbook), this app allows users to navigate SharePoint in a very mobile way. It includes lots of nice touches and even supports Enterprise features like centralised configuration and in-house deployment. Worth a look.