IBM has already staked its claim in the mobile arena with a number of social apps for the smartphone. And while these apps work just fine on the tablet, they don't take advantage of the UI and unique capabilities tablets offer. Which is why IBM has introduced tablet versions of their mobile apps. Here's what is on tap.
BYOD to Work
The trend to bring your own device (BYOD) to work to moving up, starting with the executive who got an iPad2 for his birthday, brings it work and can't understand why he can't connect it to his corporate network to access his email. The times are certainly changing and IT has got to get behind it by getting a handle on security and learning how these devices work.
IBM understands this well. Originally it had 20-30k BlackBerry users in house, all via the corporate software program. But it has been testing this BYOD to work and has found that it can be done securely. Now they bring that capability to your organization.
Getting Social on the Tablet
Today, IBM offers a number of new apps for tablet users. These include:
- IBM Connections for the iPad
- LotusLiveMeeting for iPad, Android, and BlackBerry tablets
- Sametime Instant messaging for the iPad and Android tablet (Sametime can be used on both Android and the iPad to conduct browser based meetings)
- Lotus Symphony Viewers for the iPad and Android (these views can actually be used to read any documents based on the Open Document format — a much needed quality viewer)
- Sametime Unified Telephony to help manage phone costs.
- IBM Lotus Traveler now offers Android users the ability to add widgets for mail and calendar to the home screen
A new app that works with IBM's LotusLive cloud-based collaboration service allows users to participate in online meetings from iPad devices.
IBM Connections for iPad shows the latest status updates from people in a network as well as contacts being followed.
Some key points that Kevin Cavanaugh, VP, Business and Technology, IBM Collaboration, told us when we discussed the new tablet apps:
- IBM was very comprehensive and smart about the design of these apps, ensuring that it didn't carry over any known desktop issues. With the Connections tablet app, you get everything you had on the desktop version, but it may be disclosed differently because IBM is utilizing the capabilities of the device.
- For the iPad, IBM took advantage of the notification services so that you weren't wasting your battery life running an app that wasn't being constantly used.
- Although there is still no Connections tablet app for the Android, IBM is hard at work adapting it.
- Yes, you could do online meetings on your iPhone, but the tablet screen size is driving a greater demand for meetings on the mobile (especially considering the form factor is much closer to the desktop)
The business card feature allows an IBM Sametime user to launch an announcement or chat to an individual or group using an iPad.
Editor's Note: Additional IBM mobile news you might have missed:
- iPad App Offers Mobility to Cognos, IBM Big Data
- IBM Takes Connections Mobile with New Apps, Talks Social Business
Helping Customers Go Mobile
IBM does provide developer APIs for Connections, which enables customers to integrate Connections functionality into their own apps. And as customers get started developing their own mobile apps, these APIs will come in handy. But Cavanaugh told us that most customers are currently spending most of their time working on the infrastructure required for BYOD and on getting IBMs mobile apps up and running.
To help with those who are digging into mobile app projects however, IBM is providing a couple of tools:
- Mobile Technology Preview for Android will help Android developers get started developing enterprise mobile apps.
- IBM WebSphere Portal Mobile Experience helps organizations improve the quality of the mobile experience by controlling the content, look and feel and page navigation on mobile devices.
Tablets May be the Tipping Point
Cavanaugh thinks that the tablet is the tipping point to BYOD. He also says that the tablet is not a supplement to the desktop, but is becoming the primary experience for many users. And it might just be the tablet that pushes vendors and organizations to design for mobile first. Certainly the tablet isn't there yet, but in 3-4 years, we could very well be and our desktops could become giant bookends.
For now, with the exception of Sametime for Android, all of the apps listed above are available on either iTunes or the Android Marketplace. Keep in mind you although the apps are free, you do need a license for most of the apps to connect with (exception being Lotus Symphony).
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