"This is an entire refresh of what we can do on a mobile device now," said Jeff Schick, VP of social software at IBM. Previously, IBM had made a subset of functions available through mobile browsers and offered some native support for Research In Motion's BlackBerry phones. Now, IBM has invested in creating native apps for each of the major mobile operating systems, with access to all the major features of its social software.
Where enterprise customers initially favored limiting mobile clients to browser-based access and avoiding any data storage on the device, attitudes are starting to shift in favor of the richer capabilities that can be offered through native apps, Schick said. IBM will continue to support mobile browser access, he said, "but we want to allow people a reasonable spectrum of choices in the enterprise."
Each version of the social networking mobile app is available at no charge and supports a full range of IBM Connections features, including status posting and monitoring, file sharing, profiles, activities, blogs, and ideation (brainstorming on product and strategy ideas). Workers can now take photos with their smartphones and upload them directly to Connections.
A related program, Lotus Notes Traveler, enables IBM email, contacts, and calendar information to be accessible from the most popular mobile devices.
IBM also announced some specific enhancements for each mobile operating system from across its collaboration software product line:
-- Partial wipe for Apple iOS devices: New IBM software provides "partial wipe" capability for Apple iOS devices, allowing an IT administrator to wipe only company data from the device while preserving a worker's personal data, such as personal email, photos, videos, and games. Administrators can still initiate a full reset wipe, if circumstances warrant it, as an alternative to the partial-wipe option.
-- Click-to-call from Android OS device calendar: Available in beta now, this Lotus Notes Traveler feature allows IBM email users to call people listed in their calendar views with just one click.
-- Unified communications for Android devices: IBM's Sametime software for Android extends presence awareness and instant messaging with new features including text-to-speech, which can read incoming messages when the users cannot stop to look at the device, for example when driving. They can also send photos taken with the device through Sametime chats and automatically update location status. Workers who also have Sametime unified telephony software reduce phone use costs by initiating calls to whatever phone happens to be nearby.
-- Online meeting support for BlackBerry: IBM Sametime meetings support allows BlackBerry users to participate in online meetings using their mobile devices.
-- Cloud-based meeting support for Android: LotusLive Meetings support for the Android OS is planned for availability later this year.
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