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Cross-Platform Mobile with SharePoint 2013

Interoperability is emerging as a central theme of Microsoft mobile development at the Visual Studio Live! 2013 Las Vegas conference, being held this week.In his Tuesday session, "Better Together -- SharePoint 2013 and Mobile Development," Aptillion Inc. Founder and Director Darrin Bishop discussed the SharePoint mobile dev experience on a variety of devices. "Windows Phone is a no-brainer to code against for SharePoint," Bishop said, but he added that new Remote APIs in SharePoint 2013 -- REST and client-side object model (CSOM) -- allow developers to code against iOS and Android devices, too. According to Bishop, on SharePoint 2013, "You're not limited to the [Windows] Phone OS anymore."

Bishop noted that mobile device usage is skyrocketing, and companies that use SharePoint need to develop a "mobile story" to be prepared for the continuing influx of mobile devices in the workplace. "Designers and architects need to think about who is accessing what data or services from where and for what reason," Bishop said.

Touching on the theme of interoperability and the cross-platform capabilities of SharePoint, he commented: "Sometimes it makes sense to browse a product natively and change the UI to make it a little bit easier for the platform, and sometimes it's nice to make a specific app to go after that targeted [platform]."

Bishop described the Android platform as the friendliest to proprietary apps created by developers for private company use. He noted that both Apple and Microsoft have more-restrictive policies about what apps are put onto their devices. He also gave this caveat: "We've got a lot more tools [in SharePoint] to do better mobile devices and customizations, but it's still not perfect yet. It's still a lot of work to make it really work well on all devices, whereas SharePoint on the desktop out of the box is really easy. The tradeoff is really about who your people are and what you're doing."

While the SharePoint mobile dev experience is an evolving area, the biggest impediment to developing mobile solutions in SharePoint may be the product's install base. Many organizations are still on SharePoint 2010, and it remains to be seen if the new mobile dev capabilities in SharePoint 2013 will spur fast adoption.

Bradley Flynn, an audience member, noted: "It's hard, especially for larger companies, to do adoption for a brand-new product like [SharePoint 2013], so usually there's a two-year delay" between product release and company deployment. Flynn is holding off on redoing his company's intranet until they deploy SharePoint 2013 "because I know there are a lot of pluses, like MySites. The social tools that are built in to 2013 are way better than 2010." But he admits the upgrade might be a hard sell -- some of his company's departments are still on SharePoint 2007.

Bishop points out that Microsoft cloud offerings could help companies shortcut the update process and move quickly to the latest tools. "I think companies need to look at Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 in the cloud while they consider their plans," he said. "Office 365 is a strong contender for many businesses."

Posted by Katrina Carrasco on 03/27/2013