TouchDown for iOS: A feature-rich Exchange client for iPhone and iPad

Enterprise users looking for ways to connect their iOS devices to Exchange servers have more choices than ever. Apple's Mail, Contacts, and Calendar apps aren't the only options any more.

Not long ago there were few options for accessing a Microsoft Exchange server from an iPhone or iPad. While the iOS Mail, Contacts and Calendar apps have the ability to connect to Exchange (via ActiveSync), many features aren't available in the first-party Apple apps. Things were so bad for a while that I had to carry an Android phone in addition to my iPhone so that I could run Touchdown for Android to check people's availability for meetings and reserve meeting rooms in Exchange.

If you live and die by the Exchange server at the office, you should check out TouchDown for iOS ($19.99, App Store) from NitroDesk. TouchDown had been a personal favorite Exchange client of mine for a couple of years because it offered features not available on the iPhone. All that changed in late 2012 when NitroDesk released Touchdown for iOS.

(Screenshots: NitroDesk)

TouchDown is a full-featured Exchange client (offering support for Email, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Notes) but probably the most important feature of a discrete client is that it keeps your corporate data separate from your personal data. If your iOS device is misplaced, you can choose to wipe only the corporate data and not everything on your device. Another plus is that your personal mail, contacts, and calendars in the Apple apps aren't backed up to the corporate Exchange server (depending on your configuration). 

Using Apple's Mail, Contacts, and Calendar apps you can't separate church and state. 

Here are a few things that TouchDown does that the native Apple apps don't:

  • Create Task/Calendar event from an email
  • Server search (Not on 2003)
  • Customization settings for S/MIME
  • Tasks, Calendar, Notes, Contacts, and Mail in one secure container
  • Custom Rules
  • Speak notifications
  • App level PIN
  • Secure container, meaning server policies affect App only
  • Sync different time periods
  • Filters
  • Category support, including ability to create new categories and customize existing category colors
  • HTML signature support
  • Optional copy to phone
  • Week/Agenda view in calendar
  • Complex Sort/Filter on tasks
  • Docufence secure repository allows for attachments to be saved and retrieved
  • Ability to trust all certs
  • Themes
  • Customize outbound email style
  • Extensive inbox options, as well as many calendar customization options
  • Ability to disable/enable GAL search

TouchDown also has a number of great security features:

  • Data at Rest encryption 
  • Remote wipe/kill
  • AES-256 encryption
  • S/MIME
  • IRM support with Exchange 2010(SP2)
  • PIN Policy at application level (Not device level, meaning only PIN is in front of Touchdown.)
  • Enterprise Configuration Extensions
  • Separation of personal data and corporate data (meaning a remote wipe will only wipe Touchdown, not your personal stuff.)

All in all, TouchDown works as a great all-in-one secure container for your corporate data. It not only protects your enterprise data, but keeps it separate from your personal information, making it an excellent BYOD solution for users who want to access their enterprise data on their personal device without affecting their private information.