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SharePoint Just Radically Changed How You Connect to It (Hint: It’s got an app now)

Well it finally happened, SharePoint has a presence in the iOS App Store. It’s the first step in a huge series of changes Microsoft announced back in May to bring their team collaboration and content management software in line with the CEO Satya Nadella’s mobile and cloud first initiatives.

In years past if you wanted to easily access a company’s SharePoint environment, it had to be done from a desktop or laptop machine. While Microsoft made some major inroads regarding mobile access back in SharePoint 2013, users still struggled. This newly released iOS app aims to fix that by lowering the barrier to entry (both Android and Windows Phone versions of the app have already announced and are expected before the end of 2016).

 Download and Setup

The first time you open the app you’ll be presented with a screen asking you to sign in to your SharePoint environment, SharePoint Online (Microsoft managed or Hybrid Environment) or SharePoint Server (On Premises Server Environment). If you’re not sure which, a good trick is to look to the URL. If your organizations SharePoint site doesn’t have a Top Level Domain (like .com or .org) then you’re probably going to sign in with SharePoint server.

*Side Note: Please remember that if you had to be connected to the network to access SharePoint previously, that rule won’t have changed, so connect to Wi-Fi!

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After signing in with your credentials you’re presented with a list of any sites you’ve interacted recently with as well as being provided a list of sites you’ve chosen to Follow.

What Is and Isn’t Here (Yet)

For the initial release the experience is relatively limited. Don’t expect to be able to do everything through the app that you can do on the desktop just yet. While you’ll be able to interact with List and Library content, the Page viewing experience leaves a lot to be desired. In fact it seems that a large majority of the experience has yet to be incorporated natively into the app.

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 OneDrive and SharePoint Integration

One of the biggest perks of this release however is the shared experience between OneDrive and SharePoint Libraries. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and create a new mobile experience just for SharePoint file management, Microsoft has chosen to familiarize the experience with OneDrive’s already established interface. In fact, that unification is happening on both sides of the fence, as OneDrive for iOS recently updated to include a new Navigation tab called “Sites”, which provides growing access to files stored in SharePoint.

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While it’s still early days for SharePoint as a native app, it has become clear that Microsoft is not backing down in response to increasing competition from Google, Dropbox, and other collaboration and content management focused organizations. Only time will tell if this app is the mobile overhaul organizations have been asking for.

SharePoint Mobile is available for iOS (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-sharepoint/id1091505266)

Sean Bugler is an Instructor at Learn iT! specializing in desktop class application usage. When he’s not teaching you can often find him reading up on the latest news in software and technology. Connect with him on Twitte

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