Reviewing SharePoint iOS Mobile Application – Right step in the right direction

SharePoint iOS Mobile Application Review

Microsoft has just released the much awaited iOS mobile app for SharePoint. Prior to this there were 3rd party apps available, such as SharePlus and mobile app  but with a hefty per user price tag, costing more than what even Microsoft typically charges for SharePoint Online in their Office 365 offering.

So with excitement I downloaded the app, tested it on a Contoso site and here are summarising my initial thoughts, would love to hear what you think too.

  • Step in the right direction

Easy to install and login to my site, nice feeling to have the site content and contacts easily searchable, running on my mobile device, accessible from anywhere.

sharepoint mobile app start page site links

  • Search is cool!

Content searching is quick and it nicely renders the search results, easy to locate sites, files and people. Here one key thing you would notice. There are no document libraries in the search results, only sites and files. This is the direction Microsoft is taking. However I am a bit doubtful that it would go well with the user community. For example, the other day I was attending a SharePoint project meeting and the users voted heavily not only in  favor of the document libraries but having folders in there too (over content types based grouping). One of the user pointed towards the file cabinets in the room that humans still wanted to access content in a structured way. So search in the app is cool but yet to see how much SharePoint users like (and how fast they adapt) this new way of content exploration as the primary mechanism.

sharepoint file search mobile app ios sharepoint site search mobile app

  • iPad experience is better than iPhone

No wonder the bigger the screen the better experience you have with the apps where you consume information. There is one key point to take note of. You can quickly find the ‘links’ to the sites however when you click the links and access the content they open up as web pages. It works ok on a tablet but didn’t feel that user friendly on a mobile device.

  • Add multiple accounts

This is very handy feature, specially for developers and consultants who have to work with sites spread across multiple tenants. Having all of their sites stored along with the credentials is indeed very handy.

  • My Profile

Inside the settings menu you will find your profile page where you will see the people you are working with and the recent content/files you were working on. Another quick way to get onto the stuff you are most likely to access again and again.

sharepoint profile my recent files

  • Users would love an app optimised for the mobile devices .. but this app felt a bit short on expectations

Simply put the SharePoint mobile app provides you a nice and easy way to search and remember site links. However as soon as you navigate to the site it wraps up your SharePoint site page in a web view. The same way if you were accessing your site in a web browser, not much different. I mean, here I was expecting Microsoft to be a little intuitive and come up with some alternate way of navigating within a site. True, we can use search but still we would have to navigate pages after pages on a small mobile device. I would love where app would have its own data/display controls and only data would be retrieved from the server not the entire pages.

sharepoint mobile app ios page sharepoint page content mobile app

  • Loading………delays

This is where I felt the pain, the app takes time when you navigate your site, it is not entirely the app’s fault as it is simply waiting for the server to send the content, however as I mentioned above a mobile optimised mechanism to retrieve page content and lists (in a structured way) would be more intuitive and easy to use. The mobile world is cruel, if app is not fast the users won’t come back, simple.

SharePoint mobile app ios loading

  • Lists?

I couldn’t find a way to access site lists and items within (optmised mobile experience). You have to use web view to navigate which is not that user friendly. I would imagine some old school iPod interface (where you keep sliding towards the right) for the list and items would be really useful

So in the nutshell it is a good step in the right direction (of mobility) but Microsoft yet to do a bit more and soon to make this app a must have for SharePoint users on mobile.

Microsoft Mechanics iOS App Intro

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