My colleague, IT Unity author Jennifer Mason, wrote an article about Office 365 Groups last month, which I recommend reading. You get a great overview of what Groups are and what you can use Office 365 groups for. After reading the article, and preparing my SharePoint Connect Amsterdam 2014 session, I got curious about the integration with tablets such as the iPad. Let’s take a look!
The iPad has an OWA app that’s actually very cool. The app gives you the features and look & feel of OWA without using the browser. To view an Office 365 Group you have to open the app first (duh!).
Tap the icon in front of the spyglass:
You can see the Groups at the right side. For some reason the title of the Group is cut off (it should read Contoso Summer Event 2015) so that’s a bit sloppy. Tap the name of your Group (in this case I just have one).
You see all the conversations of the Group. It’s very easy to respond. Just tap the more menu and then tap Reply all.
Type your message and tap Send. The above screenshot makes it seem that replying is easy and always works. Unfortunately I did encounter some issues.
Blank details when a conversation is selected
Major overlap of the details by the keyboard
The app is a bit buggy at times. Let’s continue though. To visit the other sections of the Group, tap the three stacked stripes next to the title of the Group and the menu pops up.
We'll change from Conversations (which we were looking at) to the Calendar.
You can see the appointments of your personal calendar but also from the Group. To create a new appointment for the Group, tap the Calendar drop down and select the Group.
The appointment appears in your personal and Group calendar. At first, I didn't really understand this feature. Why would you want to have the appointment in your personal calendar. An attendee at SharePoint Connect Amsterdam 2014 pointed out that this was one of the missing features with the out-of-the-box SharePoint calendars. You had to browse to multiple calendars to view all the appointments. End users want to see the SharePoint calendar appointments in their personal calendar. Good point! The following screenshot shows the double appointments.
To see more of the Group, you have to click on the stacked stripes icon (does anybody have a good name for this?)
The members section gives you an overview of all the members. You can view the admins of the Group by tapping Admin (this isn’t rocket science).
You can add new users from the app. Tap Add members at the top left side of screen.
Type the name of your colleague. The new member is automatically added.
Tap Save to complete the task. Here I added Pavel as a member of the Admin group.
Pavel is now part of the Group. The last section of the Group is, of course, storing documents. Unfortunately this isn't integrated in the OWA app. After clicking Files from the Group option menu, a browser session starts and you have to use the browser of choice on your iPad to view and edit the files. Unfortunately there isn't an integration with the OneDrive for Business App. This is a feature I really miss at the moment because end users don't like to switch between apps on their mobile devices. Let’s hope we get a solution for this very soon.
I hope you got a nice and clear overview of the possibilities and the limitations of working with Groups in the OWA app. The app has some minor bugs but you can definitely get the job done.