Can I use iPad/iPhone with SharePoint 2010?

08/26/2011 Update: Here's the official iPad support informarion from SharePoint team - http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/blog/Pages/BlogPost.aspx?pID=960

 

A quick answer to this question is: Yes, but that depends on how you access SharePoint.

To understand the myth, we need to go through some details…

How to access SharePoint content from iPhone/iPad?

Okay, we got two methods apparently.  The first one is to use a browser like Safari on the iPhone/iPad to browse the pages directly, just like how you use that on the desktop. The second one involves Apps.

How about the browser way? Is it supported?

Good news is, it works most of the time. Bad news is, there is something that’s not supported by Mobile Safari currently. Although we do support all mobile browsers, that’s in Mobile View of the pages. Mobile Safari can handle those pages pretty well, but not all the full version of the pages.

What is the problem and why can’t you fix it???!!!

The most obvious problem is that Rich Edit controls won’t work with these iOS devices (current verison: iOS 4.0). If you dig deeper into the issue, you will find that iPhone/iPad actually won’t work with any Rich Edit fields on the internet nowadays. The problem is Mobile Safari does not support enough features as Safari does. It’s a trimmed down version of Safari, one of the attribute it does not support is contentEditable. This attribute is widely used in SharePoint, in Google Docs, in TinyMCE(One of the best WYSIWYG editor)…

So until Apple improve their Webkit code on these devices, the only way to get around of this is to add detection code to remove Rich Edit experience for iOS devices, just like to switch to the Mobile View. There’s no way for the whole internet world to “fix” what Mobile Safari is missing.

In SharePoint, that means things involves editing in a Rich Text way will not work: Office Web Apps Edit Mode, Page Edit Mode, etc. Viewing pages and content are good.

Why does this contentEditable matter?

This attribute is introduced by Internet Explorer 5.5 more than 10 years ago, and is widely supported in all modern browsers like Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera. It is a fundamental of creating those rich edit experience within browsers instead of a separate RIA so gradually it’s also accepted in HTML5 standard.

Further reading on HTML5 & contentEditable: http://blog.whatwg.org/the-road-to-html-5-contenteditable

How about the Apps way?

There’re several Apps in App Store currently for SharePoint access. Just search for SharePoint, and you can find them. The experience varies, but in general they do the job. Currently there’s no client from Microsoft does that – if you need, you may want to consider a Windows Phone device.Smile

What’s the conclusion?

If you need to use these iDevices’ browser with SharePoint, you need to test your usage scenario first since Mobile Safari is not in the supported browsers for full page views anyway. You are responsible for the customizations to make unsupported browsers work. Or you can wait until Apple release some fix for their iOS to reduce the problem. No idea if their new 4.2 will do something on that currently. Apps is good to check out, but may not meet all the needs depending on how you want to use it. I don’t have a recommendation here.

Jie.