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Citrix Augments iPhone, iPad Collaboration Apps

Dropbox alternative ShareFile gets updated iPhone app, while the Podio cloud social productivity app launches on the iPad.

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Enterprise Social Networks: Must-Have Features Guide
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Two Citrix online collaboration units, ShareFile and Podio, strengthened their presence on Apple's mobile devices with new apps announced Wednesday.

ShareFile, which competes with products like Dropbox and Box in online file sharing and synchronization, updated its iPhone app with more features aimed at appealing to corporate IT, including the ability to audit all content accessed from a device that has been lost or stolen.

Meanwhile, Podio introduced its first native app for the iPad, allowing users of the Apple tablet to access the social collaboration cloud service. In addition to performing routine social networking activities like posting a status message and commenting on items from other users, iPad users can access the same custom productivity apps Podio makes available to Web users.

The update to the ShareFile iPhone app, combined with improvements in the cloud service itself, are aimed at balancing user demands for unfettered access with an IT administrator's requirement for control, said Bill Carovano, senior director of product management for Citrix ShareFile. Users tend to love consumer file sharing services like Dropbox, while IT distrusts them, he said. "But they can't shut off Dropbox without provoking a user revolt. They need to provide an alternative."

[ Google as an enterprise social network? Read Google+ Gets Down To Business.]

Dropbox itself is currently trying to tighten its user authentication process following an embarrassing hack of an employee's account that resulted in the loss of user account email addresses that passed straight into the hands of spammers. That incident reinforced doubts about whether Dropbox is secure enough for business use.

While other cloud file-sharing tools like Box also promise more IT friendly service, Carovano said one distinguishing feature in this release is reporting on data that may have been accessed from a device that was lost or stolen. An administrator can order a remote wipe of any files shared through the service and at the same time retrieve a complete report on all files downloaded to or accessed on the phone, even if they were accessed while the device was offline. This feature also works with the iPad client. The point is to allow a security review of how much data may have been revealed by a device gone AWOL.

ShareFile for iPhone

ShareFile also allows administrators to configure the iPhone app for more restricted access, eliminating offline access to files so that they are never stored on the device in the first place. This also prevents access from third-party applications such as QuickOffice, which might save their own copies of the data.

At the same time, ShareFile has added features for those organizations that want to maximize functionality for local users, including offline access and the ability to edit documents in QuickOffice and save them back to the cloud service. Other new features in this release including data expiration policies that permit offline access for a limited time; Active Directory integration; improved auditing and reporting; and multiple account access.

Podio had previously produced an iPhone app, as well as one for Android phones, but took its time creating an iPad version that would maximize the use of the tablet user interface, according to Jon Froda, Podio co-founder and now a Citrix executive. "We're trying to reimagine the Podio, rather than just taking all the capabilities of the Web platform and sticking them on an iPad."

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