I was recently provided with full versions of both Colligo’s Briefcase iPad app and harmon.ie’s universal iOS app. I thought that instead of writing separate reviews for both that I would go over the good and bad from each to contrast. I think both of these are the two best options over other apps such as SharePlus and Filamente (although Filamente isn’t bad).
Before we get started I should be up front about my familiarity with each of these companies. I have used Colligo’s Contributor project for a few years now, and I admittedly love it. It continues to impress me, and I don’t hesitate to recommend it liberally. On the other hand, I have never used the harmon.ie desktop application. The reason I have not is because I hate Outlook getting slower than it already is, and I didn’t have a good experience with Colligo’s Outlook add-in (although I haven’t tried it recently). Hopefully I will use harmon.ie’s desktop product soon, but I’m just too used to Colligo’s offering. Regardless, I’m not letting those impressions shape the review below as I am judging each on their own iOS merits.
If you’re familiar with their contributor product, you’ll be at home with the iPad app. What they have essentially done is port the Contributor experience to the iPad. You are given an add site prompt, which then asks the user which lists/libraries they want to sync. After choosing the lists/libraries you want the items and documents are downloaded. You can open documents in other apps and re-upload to SharePoint, and you can also edit metadata with no limitations that I could find. It’s a straight document and list management iPad app for SharePoint, and it doesn’t promise anything more than that.
Here are my observations while working with the app:
- I couldn’t just browse SharePoint. If you attempt to open a sub-site you have to choose what you want to sync. This was never an issue for me in Contributor because I only sync one site at a time, but on the iPad app it stinks.
- The iconography is dated, and the overall aesthetic of the app leaves something to be desired.
- You cannot view pages.
- The whole focus of this app is document and list management, and it doesn’t attempt to include any social features like harmon.ie’s app.
- The app is not universal meaning you will be looking for another option for your iPhone.
harmon.ie Mobile App
Here are my observations while working with the app:
- I don’t think you can download anything for offline use unlike Colligo’s app.
- Viewing and editing metadata happens through the default mobile metadata view, which isn’t pretty on an iPhone more-or-less an iPad. This also doesn’t allow editing of columns such as managed metadata.
- If you want list support, use Colligo’s app because this app doesn’t support them currently.
- You can only use the app in portrait, and I dislike when apps force an orientation (except games).
- The iconography is also dated in this app, and unlike Colligo’s, the app doesn’t look retina-ready on my new iPad.
- Even though it shows colleagues, I couldn’t find any way to add a colleague.
- It also puts status updates in a non-obvious spot, but when you use Newsgator it just shows blank status updates.
- If you give me the ability to see social updates, please allow me to post them as well.
- The app doesn’t sync views but Colligo’s does. It only allows you to filter by name and date modified.
- Like Colligo, you can’t view pages.
What Both Get Wrong
There are three big frustrations for both of them. First, I can’t view pages on either of these apps. I don’t know how many modern SharePoint implementations are document-only, but at Portal Solutions we do WCM extensively in all our engagements. It’s disappointing that there is no support at all for publishing pages (or wiki pages for that matter either). Secondly, I wish both had site collection scoped search. They both support finding content within the current context, but neither support search at a more global level. I thought there was a SharePoint iOS app that did, but I forget which one it was.
The last thing is more a personal gripe. I love SharePoint, and I love my iOS gadgets, so when both come together I have high expectations particularly for the interactions and UI. Both of these apps don’t reinvent the SharePoint experience in any way for iOS. A robust platform like iOS allows you to rethink something of the mechanics of otherwise mundane tasks and make them enjoyable. Day One rejuvenated my love for journaling, Mint’s iOS app showed me budgeting can be fun, Tweetbot showed me how great Twitter can be on iOS. Both of these apps have UIs that look like they were designed by Microsoft developers, and my challenge is for them to rethink how they can utilize the iOS platform to bring a whole new experience to SharePoint.
Which One Should I Get?
It would figure that a SharePoint consultant would say, “it depends.” However, it really does in this case. If you need offline sync, go Colligo. If the social stuff is really important to your SharePoint experience (and you don’t use Newsgator), go harmon.ie. If you need both list and library support, Colligo is better for you. If you want to only spend money on one SharePoint app for both your iPhone and iPad, harmon.ie might be for you.
If I had to pick a winner right now it would be Colligo’s app. However, I think harmon.ie with some adjustments and expansion of their feature set could overtake them. Neither company can afford to be happy with where they’re at right now because it looks like the competition is just getting started.
Update: Both Colligo and harmon.ie have informed that changes are coming to address the items I’ve mentioned. Keep your eyes on each of these apps!