As we said in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps, iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor.

After testing popular SharePoint apps for iPhone (with the exception of SharePlus, a late-comer we plan to review soon), we found that accessing SharePoint from Safari mobile was either just as good or better than using an app – especially because of its capability set:

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

There were some trade-offs, of course. Using an app allowed us to find information a little more quickly, for example, since page reloads weren’t a part of the search process. On the flip side, exploring sites and folders on the app was a bit counter-intuitive since we’re so used to browser-based navigation.

Also, SharePoint pages configured for mobile access loaded quickly in Safari; pages that weren’t loaded more slowly and showed up very small, requiring us to use our fingers to zoom in to make page text readable. Configuring a SharePoint page for mobile access isn’t rocket science, but does take a little effort and forethought.

Overall, however, mobile access via Safari was good enough to lead us to this conclusion: there’s just not a huge advantage either way. While apps offer easier access to information on sites with good information architecture, browser-based access offers similar performance – and a look/architecture you’re used to.

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