Using IBM Connections on a mobile device just got a whole lot better. In fact, I would go as far to say that it beats using it in a web browser.
The latest version of Connections for iOS and Android move the client application from being a thinly-disguished embedded web browser to a full native client which makes expert use of the REST APIs which IBM have published for their social business solution.
Particularly pleasing is the fact that the client now supports multiple Connections accounts, meaning that you can switch between different systems with a simple tap. It also includes support for Lotus Greenhouse but strangely not IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, but I guess that’s in the works.
I have had the chance to really hammer the iPad version of the software on a recent business trip and so the following are my observations from using it:
First off the introduction screen looks excellent. If you’re not an expert using Connections the introduction wizard steps you through the basics of using the application. There’s a new blue icon, so we have said goodbye forever to the yellow icon of Lotus Connections. Tapping on OK, Show Me steps you through some helpful instructions on how to get the most from the software.
Once logged in, on the iPhone you get a simple enough menu of the different areas available:
All suitably sized to be finger-friendly. On the iPhone, tapping on one of these slides the menu out of the way to show the next pane. On the iPad, with more screen real-estate you get both side by side.
The screenshots above show how the Connections client uses the extra space available on the iPad screen to show information side by side.
The new client shows a great maturity of design with a lot of custom graphics, styled to offer a professional user interface. This is most apparent when you tap on the little + button in the corner to create something:
As I said at the beginning of this post, the new Connections client is a much more mature native client for the host device. This is particularly evident by the fact that there is now camera integration and a good supply of text editing controls so that you can use the client not just as a way of finding out what’s been going on, but also contributing from the mobile device now.
IBM are showing that they are serious about Social, Mobile and Local and are clearly placing a big investment in their mobile application solutions for Connections. Let’s hope this continues.