Big corporations don’t use Office 365 like the rest of us. In enterprise settings, working life revolves around SharePoint, where files are stored securely for remote access and collaboration by employees and trusted partners. Increasingly, Yammer, Microsoft’s enterprise-grade private social networking tool for corporations, is a part of the mix too.
On traditional PCs and notebooks, using Office with those services is easy. On mobile devices running non-Microsoft operating systems, not so much. Although it’s possible to access individual services from a web browser, the experience is disjointed, and many capabilities that should be easy, such as editing a shared document, are difficult or impossible.
For an IT pro, the nightmare scenario is that employees with iPads or Android devices will skip the corporate site and use unauthorized tools like Dropbox, which dramatically increase the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to corporate files.
One worthy alternative is Harmon.ie, a clever mobile app available for both iOS and Android devices. A new release of the app for iOS, announced today, provides iPad users a consolidated view of the corporate tools in Office 365 enterprise editions—Lync, SharePoint, SkyDrive Pro, and Yammer—that also enables sharing and editing. (Yammer integration will be available in the Android app in a future update, after Microsoft releases an update to the Yammer SDK.)
Screenshot: courtesy Harmon.ie
From the Harmon.ie app on an iPad or Android tablet, an Office 365 user can open a document link directly in the Office Web App for editing. Instead of being kicked into a separate window, the document appears directly in the app, in an embedded browser. Similarly, anyone using the app can save email attachments directly to SharePoint or mark them for offline use. (Saved files are protected using the native encryption capabilities in iOS 7.)
Harmon.ie is one of several third-party tools aimed at Office 365 from a growing developer community. A light version of the app that supports document viewing only is free; the premium version for iOS costs $20. Enterprises can license the app for $4 per user per month, which provides BYOD support (including integration with popular mobile device management tools) and enables installation on multiple devices. The Android app is available here.