SharePoint 2013's Mobile Functions Offer Enhanced Social, Expanded BYOD Possibilities

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David Roe avatar

Even if there is still no official release date, every day it seems we learn more surrounding the SharePoint 2013 release. The latest -- a recent blog from one of the people working on it that provides brief glimpse into some of the mobile features.

SharePoint 2013 Functions

At this point down the information management road, mobile access and functionality is going to be one of the deciding factors when judging not only whether the release has been successful, but also whether enterprises will stick with what they have or migrate to SharePoint 2013 -- a process we know will be difficult.

While there is considerable chatter around the Web in favor of migrating, largely based on the SharePoint Preview of last summer, enterprises will have to consider whether the ROI at all levels is worth it, especially as many appear to be reasonably happy with SharePoint 2010 and whatever third-party functionality they have invested in to close off gaps.

SharePoint Mobile

But back to mobile. Brendan Mitchell on the Microsoft SharePoint IT Pro blog has outlined some of the mobile functionality coming our way, as well as pointing to other Microsoft resources that will help potential users.

It seems that one of the core elements of SharePoint 2013 will be its extended mobility features that aim to make mobile workers more productive.Among them are:

SharePoint Social

One of the new features that have emerged from SharePoint conferences over the past few months is the SharePoint Newsfeed app which brings social to what appears to be all devices. The app, Mitchell says, provides a rich, optimized experience that enables users to view and interact with their newsfeeds on Windows Phone, Windows 8 and iOS (iPad and iPhone).

The new app allows users to post to all newsfeeds on SharePoint sites as well as carry out all the usual "social functions" that you can from your desktop -- including the option to follow people, mention, share documents andfollow hashtags. It can use either the SharePoint Server 2013 or SharePoint Online.

SharePoint 2013 Newsfeed app.jpg

SharePoint 2013 Newsfeed app

It is also available in preview for Windows Phone devices from v7.5 and up and for other platforms and devices at some point later in the year, although when exactly this will happen hasn’t been confirmed.

Learning Opportunities

SharePoint Site

This version also comes with a new HTML5 based browser, offering content views for specific site templates, including Team Site. Microsoft has said in the past that it will make SharePoint as accessible as possible to all users. In this case, it means a lightweight rendering layer that is easy to navigate, and touch friendly, making it easy to use on your preferred screen or mobile browser.

The navigation has been designed to simplify moving from one part of the site to another and perform basic operations across SharePoint. This functionality requires no configuration or customization and again, like the social functionality, can be deployed using either SharePoint Server 2013, or the online version.

SharePoint and BYOD

It also seems, according to Mitchell, that the new version is going to lend itself to BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) strategies by offering different customizable viewing capabilities via the web development path in Design Manager.

SharePoint 2013 HTML 5 Mobile browser.jpg

SharePoint 2013 HTML 5 Mobile browser

A new feature that appears in SharePoint 2013 called device channels in Design Manager will enable designers to render publishing sites in a number of different ways and comes with different designs for different devices.

Content, including images, can be changed while keeping the same URL across a whole range of different devices as well as accommodatinga number of different touch target sizes, navigation models and content exclusions across tablets and smartphones.