So what would make the perfect iOS app?
I’ve had the idea for this post in my head now for several months and haven’t been able to coax it out into writing until now. Hopefully it has been worth the wait.
I’ve reviewed a number of the different SharePoint iOS app offerings including Lite, Pro/Premium editions of:
They have all had their different strengths and appeal but I have yet to come away from looking at one application with the feeling that I do not have to have anything else installed on my iPhone and my iPad.
No single iOS app makes me want to remove all the others; I’m still going to need one iOS app to do one thing and another to do something else.
So what would it take for me to forsake all iOS apps in favour of just one? I’ve jotted down some of the points I’d be looking to put on my feature list for an iOS app if I was a developer. I would be keen to hear thoughts from others.
I don’t have access to iOS 6, SharePoint vNext, Office vNext. This is just my wish list of things I’d include.
So, in no particular order…
The iOS app must work on both iPhone and iPad.
My choice of orientation
I dislike applications that have a fixed orientation and I believe this actually goes against one of the design principles that Apple have set for iOS.
I would like to choose how I work rather than have it forced upon me.
Protection of data
In the present market, SharePoint applications installed on iOS devices are more likely to be consumer devices rather than enterprise devices. Whilst they may be consumer devices, they will likely be accessing enterprise data so it needs to be secure.
I believe it is a key point that an application must offer protection for any data stored on the device whether it be synched or cached. Content for the application shouldn’t be accessible by any other means than through the application interface.
Data should also be protected via device lock code (that should be on by default) and this lock code should not have a configuration option to allow it to be switched off. Application data should be wiped after repeated failed attempts to access the content.
Clearing of cached data
If any content is deleted within the application then it should no longer be cached on the device. This also extends to the caching of user credentials which is an issue that was found, reported and fixed in several vendor applications.
If a user can’t do something within a SharePoint site, I would not expect an iOS app to allow them to do something when they are mobile. In my opinion, this opens up a world of pain if the iOS application allows them to do something different. It will lead to a negative user experience.
In terms of respecting permissions, I’m referring to preventing a user from editing item properties rather than content.
I don’t think with the current offerings on iOS (specifically the lack of Microsoft Office that is now rumoured for a Nov release) that it is possible to prevent the “Open In” option.
Perhaps with better integration with an Office editing suite at a later date this type of permission integration will also come and be similar to the desktop experience.
Easy, clean and intuitive interface
The application design reflects the design principles of the OS and has a native look and feel.
Users shouldn’t need a manual to understand how to use the mobile application.
Don’t show me what I can’t use
I don’t want to see folders or libraries that I can’t see through the desktop interface and when there is no support on the mobile device for these files anyway.
Too many applications show me “Site Assets” and “Style Library” in the mobile application and I think this could be dangerous in the wrong hands.
It just works – simple to set up and configure.
I’d love to see a means to send a config to a device and all a user has to do is add their user ID and password. I’d love to see a quick and easy means of transitioning from the office environment to mobile without lots of configuration and calls to the help desk.
I don’t necessarily see this as an “Enterprise Only” option either, just something that empowers end users.
No Server Side Dependency
For a lot of departments it is a huge task to get changes through control procedures. My preference is to use applications on mobile devices that do not require server side dependencies.
I would only consider it necessary to break this requirement where there are specific requirements like high security that would mandate the use of a server side and device side solution to protect data. For many consumers, this requirement doesn’t apply.
Content Options and Working Offline
I have a number of things that I feel fit under this heading:
- Ability to choose what content syncs and when e.g. Wi-Fi -v- 3G/4G
- Ability to select what is available offline
- Flexible sync options that can be used after I’ve browsed through a site; I’m not forced to sync an entire site first
- Ability to work with lists
- Ability to work with document libraries
- Ability to upload content and support upload of multiple items
- Support for check in/check out and also override/discard check out
- Support for Forms
- Conflict resolution
- Support for Web Apps – iOS has problems with content that has been authored or edited in Web Apps so content needs to be opened in browser
I would love to see integration with Lync.
From an iPhone perspective this could offer call features (think conference call to discuss something) and perhaps going forward with advances in iOS and Lync, the ability to video conference.
I really like the social features introduced by Harmon.ie in their product and this product brought something new to this application space. I’m keen to see this application develop further and believe that social features are something all SharePoint iOS apps need to include.
In addition to being able to see that others are doing, I’d love to be able to keep making my updates available even though I’m mobile.
Search and Findability
I want to be able to search or find information as easily whether I’m desktop or mobile. To facilitate this, I’d like to see support for views that have been saved and the ability to apply filters on the device.
I’d also like to have access to the full search features that would be available to me at my desk. If I can access my site, I should be able to access my search.
I don’t believe this feature should be limited to an Enterprise Only deployment of an application – a vendor can get more sales if the end-user can demonstrate the application features.Back to top