In November 2011, Microsoft released the mobility updates for Lync. Get the bits here. There is also a mobility guide on how to deploy, what needs to change, what stays the same, and what needs adding to your environment. Get the guide here.
Then just a few weeks ago, Microsoft released the actual clients. Windows 7.x mobile, of course, was available almost immediately, the Droid crowd got theirs quickly also. But iOS users had to wait for the AppStore to approve and release. And now they are here! To get your very own install, try the following links:
Once you have this wonderful tool installed, setup is very easy. Here is the initial screen:
Add the obvious information that is needed for autologin. You may need to add your account details if your AD login is different from your SIP address. If so, pull down the “more details” as shown. Also notice the toggle for “auto-detect.”
Then you enter your call back number. This is important because the Lync Mobility setup uses a server-centric call back routine much like the old COMO client did. You can make phone calls from the client, but the SERVER will call you, then call your other party. Works well.
Here is the options screen. Notice that everything is nice and clean. Well laid out and coherent. This is direct contrast to the Damaka Xync client that is clunky at best and confusing to use. Anyone familiar with Lync on the desktop will need no training to use this mobile client on iOS.
For those sharp-eyed readers, notice that I took all these screen shots from an iPad client. But the iPhone client is, as far as I can tell, exactly the same. Nice and consistent. Obviously, the iPad client benefits from a greatly expanded screen size, so all things are not exactly the same, but dang!
Also, because my iPhone is actually a phone with service (my iPad is not) the iPhone Lync client can be used to make phone calls as described above. The iPad client will join meetings, and when you initiate the call, the SERVER will call your cell phone (provided that is the number you entered in the setup). Nifty.
Here, I have entered a phone number and tapped on “call” – the system tells me to answer the call, which is the server connecting me.
Then, the server calls the other party…both sides think the server called them, which in fact it did. But now I can call clients using my cell phone, and having the call come from the office! Nice.
What doesn’t work?
The iOS client has specific functionality – as outlined by the chart that you can find here. But the bottom line is that it works very well, and looks good to boot! Sadly (at least for my expectations) it will not do Audio, Video, or Desktop Sharing (like Xync – but Xync is a full edge client). To be fair, the other clients do not perform those functions either. A list of what CANNOT be done from the Lync iOS client:
- add a custom location
- publish status based on calendar free/busy
- view frequent contacts group (nobody got this one)
- modify contacts list (the symbian client can do this)
- tag contacts for status change alerts
- manage contact group (symbian can manage group contents)
- automatically log conversations in Exchange (nobody got this one)
- use dial-in conferencing (more on this a bit later)
- view meeting video ()
- use in-meeting controls, presenter or otherwise (nobody got this one)
- desktop share (nobody got this one)
- navigate a list of your meetings (I don’t understand why the iOS clients are listed as not being able to do this. I can see a list of my day’s meetings!)
- manage team call settings
- manage delegates
- initiate call to Response Group
- support e-911
- make calls on behalf of
- conduct two-party calls with external user (although it will call my cell phone, so I don’t know what is meant by this)
- conduct multiparty calls with external users (ditto as above)
- client-side archiving
- client-side recording
iOS clients can send location data in an IM. Very nice for tracking down your clients location or possibly showing your buddies what bar you are in….
Overall, I think this is solid release with some great functionality. The Damaka Xync client, as a full edge client, has full functionality. However, the Xync client has a strange interface and some things do not work quite as well I would like them to work; the Microsoft Lync Mobility client has a very clean interface that is instantly familiar – and it provides its’ feature set seamlessly. And free. Free is a very good price.