SharePoint 2013 Preview is packed with a ton of new features and improvements, and mobile is a big part of this. As smartphone and tablet use in business continues to grow, the new mobile capabilities in 2013 will allow business owners to fine tune their users mobile experience and promote use. In this post we'll look at the new mobile feature set and give an overview of each area.

What Devices Are Supported

The supported devices fall right in line with what you would expect in today's market:

  • Windows Phone (7.5 or later)
  • Windows (Windows 7 or later)
  • iPhone (iOS 5.0 or later)
  • iPad (iOS 5.0 ot later)
  • Android (4.0 or later)

The Mobile Browser Experience

One of the mobile improvements is the updated user experience. SharePoint now includes a new view called Contempary view, which offers a more modern look and feel for your mobile viewing experience. Mobile users will have 3 varieties of views based of their device.

Let's take a look at what each view offers:

  • Classic View: This view is identical to what SharePoint 2010 offered. It is rendered in HTML format (or similar markup) and provides backward compatibility for older devices.
  • Contemporary View: This view is new to SharePoint 2013 and is rendered in full HTML5. Any modern smartphone will get this view which is more inline with the desktop browser experience.
  • Full Screen UI: You also have the ability to view a full desktop on a smartphone, although this view is much more suited for a tablet device.

The Contemporary view offers a clean and stylized UI, but it also comes with a bunch of enhanced features:

  • Menu Button: The menu button is located on the right side of the title area and presents the user with commands such as the following:
    • View Site Contents
    • Sign Out
    • Close
  • Switch to PC View: This option changes the display to the full screen UI.
  • Navigation Window: This is available in the full screen UI and presents a single menu with breadcrumbs, top navigation, and quick launch.
  • Tap-to-Open Links: All links are displayed on a wide strip that is easier for the user to tap.
  • Pagination: Any list with over 20 items to display is automatically paged.
  • New and Edit Functionality: You can easily create new items or edit current items.

Mobile Browser Redirection

In order for your site to be displayed using the new Contemporary view, you must activate a new feature called Automatic Mobile Browser Redirection. This feature checks the mobile browser and determines if it can display HTML5, if not the classic view is used. This is a site level scoped feature. Some site templates automatically activate this feature including the following:

  • Team Site
  • Blank Site
  • Document Workspace
  • Document Center
  • Project Site

Any other site template that you use will have to have the feature manually activated.

Mobile Views and the Browser Definition File

As with SharePoint 2010 you still have the browser definition file. This file lists the mobile browsers and devices that can access mobile views. For more detailed information on configuring the browser file definitions see this TechNet article.

Device Channels

In previous versions of SharePoint there was a single default mobile view that was auto-generated based on the existing site. That default view was not easily customizable. In steps Device Channels, which allows you to render a single publishing site in many ways be using different layouts that target specific devices (this is only available for Publishing sites). The advantage being you are creating a single site and content, then using seperate MasterPages and CSS to display based on the device or group of devices. You also have the ability to show different content if you desire.

Configuring Device Channels can be done under Site Settings in your publishing site:

Adding a new Device Channel presents you with a few options for how this channel should be managed:

  • Name: This is simply the name of the new Device Channel.
  • Alias: This is a unique ID used by SharePoint.
  • Device Inclusion Rules: This is a list of strings that will be used to match against the user agent string of the mobile browser. You can use this to create a fallback mobile view using $FALLBACKMOBILEUSERAGENTS;
  • Active: Simple boolean as to whether this channel is active or not.

Once you add a new Device Channel nothing will happen yet. You'll then need to go into the Master Page settings to associate a look and feel:

Another useful feature with Device Channels are the new DeviceChannelPanel control. This control allows you to conditionally display content based on a Device Channel.

Location

SharePoint 2013 includes a new geolocation field type that can be used in a list. This gives lists the ability to be "location aware" and display lat/long coordinates through Bing Maps. This opens a new level of working with lists especially with users who work in the field. Users can track or log location specific data while working remotely. For more detailed information on the location field type see this TechNet article.

Push Notifications

You can now send push notifications to mobile devices that support it. In order for mobile devices to receive such notifications, devices must be registered with a SharePoint site. There is a new Push Notifications feature that must be activated on the site. When the push notification feature is activated, a subscription store is created at the site level to store information from devices that have registered with the SharePoint site to receive notifications. Some custom coding will need to take place as you will need event handler code to interact with Microsoft Push Notification Service or notification services of other mobile device platforms.

Business Intelligence Content

2013 also enables a user to view certain kinds of dashboard content. This includes PerformancePoint reports, scorecards, and Excel Services reports on iPad devices (iOS 5 or later). For more information about how to use this feature, see this article on TechNet.

Other Features

Some other features include:

  • Office Web Apps: Office Web Apps Server is a new stand-alone product that delivers OWA functionality. Together with SharePoint 2013 users can open a server-based version of a document in a mobile browser.
  • Mobile Alerts: You can configure and manage a mobile account in SharePoint 2013 to enable users to subscribe to alerts that are sent by using Short Message Service (SMS). The alerts are sent to the mobile device when changes are made to a SharePoint list or item.

Wrap Up

As you can see, SharePoint 2013 brings a lot to the table when it comes to mobile. There are great new features that allow business owners to empower their workforce via smartphones and tablets, as well as giving public facing sites new options for displaying their content.

For more detailed information on these new features, please visit TechNet:

What's new for mobile devices in SharePoint 2013 Preview

Overview of mobile devices and SharePoint 2013 Preview

Supported mobile device browsers in SharePoint 2013 Preview

SharePoint page model overview