When designing CloudFiler we were keen to support mobile devices and it initially seemed that we had 3 choices:
- Extend the email clients on iOS and Android
- Create our own email clients for mobiles
- Extend Outlook
Extend the email clients on iOS and Android
The obvious thing to do would be to create an add-on to the email client on your phone or tablet. Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible because Google and Apple won’t let third-party developers anywhere near their native email clients.
Create our own email clients
We could have built our own clients for iOS and Android but that was a slippery slope for various reasons:
- It would have required an enormous effort to reproduce all the capabilities that users expect from these tools, as it’s not just email, they can include: calendars, contacts, etc.
- It is all too easy to create an App that works on some devices but not others; for example it’s not unusual to find that Apps work on phones but not on tablets
- We would be forever playing catch-up as users expect the App to provide the same capabilities as the native email client. As these tools are updated at a very rapid pace, it would be considerably demanding; think how frequently your phone’s Apps are updated.
- Users tend to stick with what they know and trust and could easily reject all our hard work by refusing to use the App.
Extending Outlook is far from perfect, but it ticks many more boxes. The first thing is that it’s familiar to users, as they already use it on their desktop devices, the second is that it is maintained by Microsoft and thus always compatible with their back-end services for email, contacts, calendar, etc. Take a look at Outlook in a browser and you will see that it goes way beyond these 3 and integrates with Teams, To Do, your Office applications and more.
As long as you have a Microsoft 365 account you can access Outlook on your: iOS and Android devices of all sizes, any browser, Windows PCs and Macs. All without paying anything extra.
This method of extending Outlook uses ‘Add-in’ technology as opposed to ‘Plug-in’ technology. Whereas Plug-ins are programs that run locally on desktop clients, Add-ins are like mini web pages that run on all devices and are fully supported by Microsoft.
Filing to any location
Having a user interface that works on all devices is great, but how can your mobile phone file to folders inside your business or to external storage when it’s not connected to them?
We can’t disclose how we do this, other than to say that it involves the use of one-time and time-limited security tokens, but CloudFiler enables you to file anywhere from any device.
Whereas the ‘Mobile office’ was previously a domain for company executives who needed to access some facilities via a phone or tablet. For those 'road warriors' the ability to deal with email there-and-then rather than wait until they are back in front of their PC/Mac, is a huge benefit.
It is however common now for staff to work from home from time to time via a range of devices, so the need to support these behaviours is important. Some roles such as building site workers may not even have access to a PC/Mac and need to undertake all tasks via a mobile device.
CloudFiler provides the flexibility and security for everyone to work in ways that suit them.
This 2 minute video shows how the interface presented on mobile devices is the same as that in Microsoft 365. It also shows how you can easily file to any location and indeed to multiple locations at once.