The entire blog in two sentences: Mobile devices get broader, better support than ever before with SharePoint 2013. But what you see depends on what you get…
And while less than monumental releases like Windows Vista, Sega Dreamcast and Spiderman 3 have reminded us that the latest isn’t always the greatest, the newest version of SharePoint creates easier ways to connect via your phone.
Right out of the gate, you should know that not all features work with all devices, which pretty much applies to any technology, but nevertheless. Also, Microsoft has taken care to make it a slightly elite benefit by restricting some features to only apply for Microsoft 365 users or those who pay for premium licenses.
Secondly, why should we be monitoring the mobile device support for products in the first place? Because in an increasingly mobile world where the home PC is practically extinct and more and more business is happening over smart phones, you need your investment in SharePoint to include the increased productivity that mobile support allows your employees. But you already knew that.
So, what can you expect with SharePoint 2013’s mobile support?
1. A cleaner mobile browser experience
Depending on what device you use, SharePoint 2013 enables browsing from different mobile devices with three different ways to view SharePoint content. Basically, you have the old way, the new way, and full screen desktop view (respectively named Classic, Contemporary and Full-Screen User Interface, see picture.)
If you have a newer phone that supports HTML5 then you will want to take advantage of the Contemporary View. If you have an older phone, you may be forced to view a less attractive Classic View. And if you need to see what it looks like on a desktop, the Full-Screen UI will do the trick. It should be noted that these views only apply to built-in site designs and won’t be available to custom designed sites that use SharePoint. Don’t lose hope though, because a new feature called Device Channels lets you do exactly that by making responsive designs that correspond to particular browsers and devices.
2. Better Search and even Push Notifications
Okay, so SharePoint is all about making collaboration easy within your workforce, right? Microsoft pushes this point by making navigation that much easier through mobile devices. You can search for specific content or keywords to locate projects easily and the previously mentioned browser views make it easier to index the content.
Collaboration comes in with the new Push Notifications. SharePoint 2013 took a big page out of the social networking book when they released the latest version. Now with all the new features, you can stay updated on your team’s work by following sites, documents, users or even topics. When a change is made, your mobile applications send you a push notification so you’re always aware of what is happening with your project and kept in constant contact with your coworkers.
3. View Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint from mobile device
Thanks to the added functionality with Office Web Apps in SharePoint 2013, you can edit documents that have been downloaded from SharePoint on your phone. But not just any phone. This is one of the fun times where price and participation may vary…
Basically, the newer your device, the more likely it will work with all this. Office Web Apps are simply server-based versions of all your favorite Microsoft friends like Excel and PowerPoint that you can open with SharePoint. (Typically, this is a read-only scenario from your phone.) So, while OWA will let you open nearly anything on your phone, you will likely need something with a bigger screen to edit anything, think iPads, Windows RT or other tablets. Either way, having access to these documents will undoubtedly prove useful for the constant traveler or remote worker that needs access on the go.
Check out this list of SharePoint Support for Mobile Devices that can be found in Wes Miller’s article from the September issue of Directions on Microsoft:
Similarly, there’s a helpful Mobile Browser Compatibility Matrix on this Technet article that helps you figure out the support based on the device:
The C-levels and administrators are happy to see another mobile enhancement come through, as well. Basically, depending on your device, you can now view all of the Business Intelligence content like reports and scorecards that you previously couldn’t do from your phone. It’s a step in the right direction for decision-makers who want to get the breakdown of these reports on the way to the meeting rather than only from their desktop.
So, while people with older phones may still find some difficulty, SharePoint 2013’s improvements to the web-based UI and Office Web Apps have opened the door for a richer mobile experience that grows ever stronger with each helpful mobile application that is created to appease the fast-paced lifestyle of the SharePoint end user.