- A better mobile browsing experience thanks to a new "contemporary view" which renders sites in HTML5 and works with the most recent mobile IE, Safari and Android browsers. It is designed for touch-screen interaction and optimized for tasks like accessing document libraries, lists, wikis and Web parts. The "classic view" for older mobile browsers remains, rendering sites in HTML, as well as the option to display a full desktop view of the site.
- New backend mobile "channels" that automatically rearrange the rendering of a SharePoint site for different mobile devices, augmenting the single default mobile view in SharePoint 2010 that was cumbersome to customize.
- A new capability for SharePoint sites to push notifications out to mobile devices, alerting users about changes, like the addition or modification of content.
- Two new native mobile apps. The SharePoint Newsfeed app gives users access to the people and documents they follow. It's available for Windows Phone and iOS and will be available on Windows 8 by the end of June. An Android version will be available later. The SkyDrive Pro app gives users access to this cloud storage and file sharing service on Windows 8 and iOS. It's due for release before the end of June. A version for Windows Phone 8 is already out.
Other new mobile features in SharePoint 2013 are the capability to add geolocation tags to a list, the capability to view certain types of business intelligence content and improved viewing of Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents with Office Web Apps.
For the many organizations that aren't on SharePoint 2013 yet, or that are on SharePoint 2013 but need more capabilities, there are third- party applications that can help.
Regardless of the tool they choose, CIOs and IT managers have to evaluate the security capabilities of the different options, including native features and their capacity to integrate with third-party security systems, such as MDM (mobile device management) products.
Filling the SharePoint mobile gap with third-party apps
The vendors that make these applications have moved to fill in SharePoint's mobile gap, which is still considered by many to be too wide even in the 2013 version.
Making the situation more confusing is the question of how the mobile plans for SharePoint will be impacted by the ongoing integration of the product with Yammer, the enterprise social networking suite Microsoft acquired in mid-2012.
Another element is the small but growing use of SharePoint Online, the version of the product that is hosted by Microsoft and part of the broader Office 365 cloud suite, and how mobile access may vary for it and for SharePoint installed on premises.
No one at Microsoft was available to talk about this, however, the company sent a brief statement via email saying that it is committed to mobile access for SharePoint. "This is a very important area for Microsoft," the statement reads.
H3 Solutions' Mobile Entrée makes SharePoint more mobile
After scoping out the market, AAA Mid-Atlantic settled on H3 Solutions' Mobile Entrée, which is installed on SharePoint servers and provides a set of mobile capabilities out-of-the box along with development tools to create custom applications as well.
Klichinsky is happy with Mobile Entrée's out-of-the box capabilities, in particular the capability to let users retrieve documents from SharePoint's document repository and the ability to view business intelligence dashboard data.