It’s hard to think about a digital world without smartphones. Everybody has one, and with trends like BYOD firmly taking hold they are especially common in the workplace. Users now expect their desktop applications to be available on their mobile devices, with similar features and functionality. Reading email on the move has been common place for a long time, but increasingly so is checking calendars, updating social feeds and even working on documents.

Recognizing these trends, many enterprises are now taking a ‘mobile first’ strategy with their tools and systems. Office 365 is in a prime position to address these needs, with its own suit of mobile apps complemented by our own mobile solutions. Let’s take a closer look.

The major platforms

First thing to look at is platform support. Right now Android, iOS and Windows are well supported. BlackBerry is lacking official support from Microsoft, but our own harmon.ie for BlackBerry app makes up for this by providing enterprise grade access to Office 365 and SharePoint for BlackBerry10 devices.

Official Microsoft apps

The official suite of mobile apps for Office 365 from Microsoft includes:

   Office Mobile and the Office Apps

Go back a few months and the only real option for editing Office documents on the move was the Office Hub app. This came preinstalled on Windows Phones, was also available on Android and iOS, and allowed users to work on Office documents from their Windows Phone device.

In the last few months this has all changed as Microsoft has released dedicated Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for iOS. Android and Windows Phone versions are on their way, for now users of these devices must stick to Office Mobile.

The initial iOS releases of these apps required users to have an active Office 365 subscription to carry out any editing, but a recent update has removed this restriction and even added Dropbox support.

You can find out more about all these apps on the Office pages of the Microsoft website.

   Outlook Web Access for Mobile

Every mobile platform has built-in applications to read e-mail, and these can generally be configured to work with corporate or Office 365 accounts. For example, iOS has the Mail app, Windows Phone has the E-mail app. Android has a separate app for corporate e-mail, but that changes with Gmail 5.0. The Gmail app now natively supports a wider range of accounts e.g. Yahoo, Outlook, and Exchange.

Microsoft provides another option in the form of a native Outlook app. Outlook Web Access works with both Office 365 Exchange accounts and On-Premises setups, and is available for iPhone and Android (this version is currently labelled ‘Pre-Release’).

   Lync

Lync is not only a capable text and chat client but it also supports voice calls. When used with its mobile apps it is a real alternative to a traditional enterprise phone setup. There are apps for all major platforms - Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Links, reference cards, and FAQ’s can be found on the Office Support web site.

   OneDrive for Business

Formerly called SkyDrive Pro, OneDrive for Business is rapidly being pitched by Microsoft as an enterprise challenger to Dropbox and Google Drive. So it now has apps on every major platform - iOS for both iPad and iPhone, Android. It also comes pre-installed on Windows Phones.

   Yammer

Yammer makes a big push of their mobile apps, allowing users to publish content more easily on the move. Yammer Mobile is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

A disparate experience

Microsoft has taken the approach of many separate applications for different functions of Office 365 - like OneDrive and Yammer. This makes it hard to manage a wide range of functionality across different applications, and to manage business processes. Workers work on business processes whose tasks usually span more than one app. On a mobile device, this is particulary difficult to manage, since there is no way to keep multiple windows open. The result is a lot of opening and closing apps to complete simple business tasks. 

harmon.ie provides one single app to access all services in Office 365, one single point of entry to the main Office 365 functions and features. This single screen experience provides more context to activity, and for many can be a real boost to productivity.

You can find out more about the harmon.ie suite of mobile applications on the website.

Ram Tagher
Product Manager