Microsoft brings SharePoint to iOS

Microsoft announced this morning the launch of a new mobile app for SharePoint customers aimed at bringing a company’s SharePoint-powered intranet portal and its content to users’ smartphones and tablets. The app is initially available on iOS – meaning it will work on iPhone and iPad – but it will arrive on both Android and Windows platforms before year end, Microsoft says.

The company said last month that such an app was in the works when it detailed its plans for the future of SharePoint. Used by over 200,000 organizations, SharePoint is often synonymous with the “intranet” – the internal portals businesses run behind the firewall where employees share news, files, collaborate on projects and more. However, what was lacking was a more modern, mobile-first approach to making SharePoint content available to a business’s end users no matter which device they’re using.

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With the new SharePoint app, Microsoft touts that it’s now putting the “intranet in your pocket.” That means users can access company news and announcements, people, sites, content and more from their mobile device. The app works with either SharePoint Online in Office 365 or SharePoint Server 2013 or 2016 in on-premises or hybrid scenarios.

The app features a Sites tab that lets you visit the SharePoint sites you frequent, so you can see recent activity, files, and access these files, lists, pages, and other content on those destinations.

The app also works with other Microsoft mobile apps, the company notes. For example, when you click an Office document in the app, it will launch the corresponding Office mobile app; and when you view a document library on a team site, you’ll be taken to the OneDrive mobile app for iOS.

A Links tab lets you see the full list of sites and portals in your company, as curated by the SharePoint administrators, and a People tab lets you browse through lists of colleagues as well as view their profiles.

Search is another key feature, as it allows you to locate resources by keyword and filter results by sites, files, and people, as well as “content recommendations” which are powered by Microsoft Graph, Microsoft’s machine learning technology.

Though available as public release as opposed to a beta, Microsoft says it’s still accepting feedback about the new app, which can be submitted by in-app Shake, UserVoice, and Twitter posts to @SharePoint and @Office365.

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Microsoft is experimenting in your mobile app

It’s not uncommon that people sometimes lose their place in a mobile app because they were interrupted by something else – like a notification from another tool – and struggle to find their way back.

A team at Microsoft Research believes it has a solution to that problem, and it’s called uLink. It’s described as a mechanism that uses mobile deep linking to generate a link and allows you to bookmark it – just as you would with Web URLs.

uLink is a new deep linking mechanism that brings the notion of web URLs to mobile apps. With uLink, users can bookmark links to app pages or search previously-seen pages with content of interest.

It also lets you search through your app browsing history. So if you came across a restaurant in a booking app, you can find it again just by typing a keyword from that page – like the city it’s located in – without having to bother swiping through the app in question to return to the page you’re looking for.

The team has implemented the uLink system on Android, and says that it requires minimal developer effort and achieves significantly higher coverage than other techniques. It isn’t yet clear if this will become available to users soon or show up on other platforms like iOS, but it’s certainly an idea worth pursuing.

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A platform that helps you develop apps in minutes instead of months

Start-ups need help to take on the Big Boys as they deliver business disruption by providing newer services and products. With lean internal teams, start-ups need to focus on core business innovation and do so very quickly — technology is key here. Agility aligned with an unwavering focus on innovation is a key catalyst to disruption.

And that’s exactly where IBM’s Bluemix™ platform plays the perfect matchmaker for start-ups because it not only facilitates the ‘entrepreneurs everywhere’ principle but also enables start-ups to focus on innovative applications to solve complex business challenges, leaving behind any infrastructure related issues. Reducing application development time from months to minutes catalyzing disruption.

Earlier, start-ups found it extremely tough to build enterprise-grade applications with the required scalability, resiliency and speed. But thanks to the powerful Bluemix platform, start-ups in India are now providing enterprise-grade applications for giants in industries ranging from IT/ITeS to energy to manufacturing, BFSI, transportation, media and more. In fact, an Enterprise Strategy Group survey reported in mid-2015 that, Bluemix was the most-used PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service). The survey results also showed that the adoption of Bluemix was growing 10x faster on average than the adoption of other PaaS providers. Yipeedo is once such start up currently on Bluemix for its application development. The mobile only platform is helping urban city dwellers discover things to do in cities based on a user’s taste and preferences.
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What’s even more interesting is that the giants themselves are learning from start-ups and using ‘Bluemix’ to leverage start-up agility and innovation.

Take India’s largest private bank, ICICI Bank. The bank wants to deliver the ultimate customer experience. So ICICI Bank is currently organizing the ICICI Appathon by inviting start-ups to participate. “There is a shift in consumer preference wherein they want innovative solutions on the go. We want to broad base and leverage the innovative ideas and exceptional talent in our developers, technopreneurs and technology start-ups,” says Ms Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank. Similarly, Tech Mahindra has currently trained close to 5000 of their developers on Bluemix.

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And soon, Bluemix Local, the latest flavour of Bluemix will come to India to enable enterprises to gain from the power of Bluemix. It will be delivered as-a-service behind a firewall and leverages existing infrastructure in a modern private cloud platform. It will provide a powerful hybrid cloud offering in combination with on premise infrastructure.

So, whether a business — from a start-up to a large enterprise — wants to leverage Bluemix in a public, dedicated or local manner, IBM is delivering Bluemix in a way that is designed to bridge and extend existing systems and data into the cloud.

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Google launches new certification program for software development agencies

The idea behind the program is to recognize agencies that “have undergone the required training and have demonstrated excellence in building Android applications,” by a Google spokesperson.

In total, 13 agencies in India, Russia, U.K. and U.S. have already been certified since Google first announced its plans for this program last December. These agencies work with both large enterprise clients and startups.

While Google notes that it does “not endorse, or offer any warranty, regarding the certified agencies,” the idea here is obviously to highlight some of the agencies that Google itself considers among the best in the ecosystem (and that use Google’s technologies, too). While the focus here is on Android apps, Google tells that the program also includes support for agencies that work on web apps, too.
“The Agency Program is an effort by Google’s Developer Relations team to work closely with development agencies around the world and help them build high quality user experiences,” Google’s global lead for the agency program Uttam Kumar Tripathi writes today.

Google will provide certified agencies with personalized training, dedicated content, priority support and access to the company’s developer relations teams. Certified Agencies will also get early access to upcoming developer products and help with UX reviews.

-by Frederic Lardinois

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App Store Optimization – A Crucial Piece of the Mobile App Marketing Puzzle

With over 2 million mobile apps in the major app stores, getting your app discovered is one of the biggest issues facing mobile app publishers today. If you’re in the mobile app space, it’s important to understand the various methods for marketing your app. We’d like to share with you one very important technique that continues to be overlooked by most – app store optimization (ASO).

ASO is the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results. The higher your app ranks in an app store’s search results, the more visible it is to potential customers. That increased visibility tends to translate into more traffic to your app’s page in the app store.

The goal of ASO is to drive more traffic to your app’s page in the app store, so searchers can take a specific action: downloading your app.

According to Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through app store searches. This makes search, in the app store, the most used method for discovering and downloading new apps.

If you’re not using ASO to increase your app’s search ranking, you’re missing out on the largest discovery channel available to your app.

Main Factors:

Title – The keyword placed in the title should be the one with the heaviest search traffic. Spend time researching which keyword that is, because changing your title often to include different keywords can be detrimental. As your app begins to rank higher and gain more reviews, news of your app will begin to spread by word of mouth. Changing the title can make it difficult for word to spread about your app.
Keywords – To improve your search rankings, you need to know which keywords are relevant and used most often by your target audience. It is helpful to monitor competitors in order to realize how you compare week to week.

Secondary Factors:

Total # of Downloads – Your number of downloads are extremely important to ASO, but you don’t have complete control over them.
Ratings and Reviews – Also important and difficult to control. However, there are ways to incentivize happy users to rate and review.

With a sampling of keywords, they looked at the top 25 ranking positions and calculated what percentage of apps had the keyword in the title vs. those that did not. This provided a total aggregate score for the apps with the keyword in the title and the apps without the keyword in the title.

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Based on this test, apps with keywords in the title ranked on average 10.3% higher than those without a keyword in the title.

So, is a keyword worth placing in your title? Yes.

To reap the rewards of ASO, you need to invest time and effort. If you do, you’ll have a consistent channel driving traffic to your app. Being found is one of the most difficult challenges for mobile apps, but it is a problem you can actively solve.

About the Author: Robi Ganguly is the CEO of Apptentive, the easiest way for every company with an app to talk with their customers, and the one who give such knowledge about we were unaware of ASO.

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