In the previous post I talked about the use of SkyDrive Pro to work with personal documents. This post is dedicated to working with team documents stored on SharePoint project or team sites used to collaborate. Everyone wants to be able to access these documents anywhere, anytime on any device. These are often very valuable documents with critical information that influence business decisions on a day to day basis. You can imagine that certain professions such as Sales Managers or CIO’s need these documents to quickly make important business decisions.
You have two options to access your team documents with a mobile device:
Let’s start by taking a look at the iPad.
I start my day with opening the overview of my favorite SharePoint sites:
By default the HTML 5 contemporary view is activated. This is a new feature of SharePoint Online 2013. The sites are presented in a more compact view compared to the default view:
The default view is stretched out and doesn’t fit the whole screen. It shows redundant information such as your profile picture, the top navigation and the Search bar. You select Sites and just want to see sites, nothing more! That’s what the contemporary mobile view does. This view is really only for viewing content, you can’t use it for administrative tasks such as changing library or list settings. You need to use the PC view to execute those kind of tasks. The contemporary view only works with the following site templates:
- Team site
- Blank site
- Project site
A Publishing site won’t have this view available. You can only use the PC view or you have to create your custom view by creating a Device Channel. More about that later. I decide top to view my Accounting team site:
Only documents are displayed. It’s very easy to open an Office document by clicking on the name:
The Office Web Apps enable me to edit this Word document in the browser:
It’s pretty cool that we are now able to use the browser to edit Office documents on the iPad but without an external keyboard you are in for a hell of a surprise:
This is only workable if you have unlimited faith in your typing skills 😉 You could split up the keyboard:
You still need a lot of faith in your typing skills and a pair of excellent glasses! My advice would be, if you really start to work with Office documents on a daily basis, to buy an external keyboard. This will make life a lot easier for you.
The contemporary view only displays the web parts with content on the home page. I added a calendar and link web part and this is what happened:
These web parts are now also available in the view. This doesn’t work for all web parts. For example, I placed a discussion web part on the home page and it didn’t appear. What’s very cool about the contemporary view is the icon on the bottom left:
You are now able to use the SharePoint Online Top Navigation. I really like the use of tiles with big icons, this really prevents you from clicking on the wrong link. At least, that’s what happens with my fat fingers in the PC view 😉
There isn’t a Microsoft App, comparable to the SkyDrive Pro App, to access your team documents. You have to choose from a selection of 3rd party Apps:
I am not doing a comparison between these Apps in this post. My advice? Download a free trial version, perform intensive tests and see what App suits your business needs. Please make sure you can access your files offline because you aren’t always online with a tablet. Also make sure the App supports Office 365! A while ago this wasn’t the case with every App. My expectation is that this isn’t the case anymore, but better be safe than sorry.
Most Apps don’t have an Office editor so you have to assume that you need an additional App to edit Office documents. You can also decide to use the browser. This is a decision you have to make. My recommendation is to thoroughly test multiple Office 3rd Party Apps before you buy one for your business. Invite a couple end-users and ask them for their opinion because they have to work with it after you bought it.
I really didn’t like using the browser with the iPhone 4. Why? Let’s take a look:
The screen is very small and doesn’t fit all the data so you have to scroll. Let’s go to our Accounting Team Site:
Again, not all the data fits on the screen. This makes sense of course, the iPhone isn’t an iPad and has a smaller screen but it didn’t do it for me. I just want you to be aware before you get disappointed. Let’s open a Word document:
You are able to change the font size by clicking on the text and on the arrow that appears on the left side of the screen:
Click on Aa:
Now you are able to select your preferred font size. A nice and nifty little feature.
The iPhone has the same apps as the iPad. So make your pick and choose wisely.
The Surface RT runs on the latest version of Internet Explorer and automatically loads the contemporary view:
No difference with the iPad here! Although something strange happens when I select the Accounting Team Site:
There isn’t a mobile view available. You don’t really need it but I find it strange that it’s not available.
The cool thing about the Surface RT is the availability of the Office 2013 suite so you can edit the Office documents in the designated Office client with all its full features. You can use the Office Web Apps but it has the same issue as the iPad. The keyboard on screen blocks your view so you have to use the external keyboard. Talking about the advantage of the Office 2013, you can create and upload new Office documents directly into your SharePoint portal. Go to Save As:
In case your SharePoint portal isn’t available, you can add it by clicking on Add a Place. You enter your credentials and your SharePoint portal is available:
In many cases the default folders, home page and SkyDrive Pro, aren’t sufficient so you can click on Browse and copy and paste the URL of your team or project site:
After this, the location is available when want to save an Office document.
The Surface RT doesn’t have any the Apps listed in the Apple store. Perhaps these companies don’t see any market or future in Windows 8? I did encounter the following apps:
- SP Launcher
I would advise Microsoft to create their own App to support business users who want to work with the Surface RT and SharePoint.
Windows Phone 8
The browser of the Windows Phone 8 is comparable to the iPhone 4.
Strangely there aren’t any apps for the Windows Phone 8. You have to use the Office Hub and connect it to a document library. I described this process in the previous post.
Although HTML 5 Contemporary view is a huge improvement compared to the mobile view in previous SharePoint versions, you aren’t able to extend it. By creating your own Device Channel you can create a mobile view for a tablet or smartphone. You create the look & feel and decide what to display in the view. A very cool feature! Be warned: this only works for publishing sites! The following links contain more information about Device Channels:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj862343.aspx You could always search the web for blogs from Waldek Mastykarz and Benjamin Niaulin on Device Channels.
In this and the previous post I showed you the possibilities of working with personal and team documents in SharePoint Online with mobile devices. The personal documents are supported by an App for every mobile devices, unfortunately this isn’t the case with team documents.
By now you probably have the following question: “Jasper, what tablet or smart phone would you recommend?” To be honest, I don’t see people editing an Office document with a smart phone, so reading is sufficient. The iPhone and Windows Phone support this scenario with 3rd party or out-of-the-box Apps. The tablets are a different story because with a tablet you can actually get some work done! I find this very difficult and think it’s mostly a personal choice and preference for a certain tablet. You don’t have a tablet? You want to work with Microsoft Office, SkyDrive and SharePoint and want to access your work e-mail with Outlook? Go for the Surface tablet, please get the latest one because the RT is a bit slow and old by now, or get another Windows 8 tablet. Nokia is releasing a new really nice looking Windows 8 tablet. You already have an iPad and love Apple and never want to use a different device? Stay with the iPad. You can get your work done but probably not a smoothly as you expect or hope. This is especially the case while creating and saving Office documents.
Can you work anywhere, anytime on any device with documents in Office 365? Yes you can! So long you have an Internet connection, a tablet or smart phone and an App.
Please read the following articles if you want to know more about mobile views and SharePoint (Online) 2013: