If you work for a company that has decided to use either Office365 or an internal deployment of Microsoft Lync you have probably been waiting patiently for a mobile client. Even with external connectivity, there was the issue of connecting to a PC or dialing a long numeric code to join a conference call. Plus the idea of presence really only meant that you were sitting at your computer. With the releases this week and last, of Lync 2010 Mobile for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS you can now chat, have conference calls and even accept calls from your desk phone. More info on all the apps can be found here. http://goo.gl/Bgva5
Follow these links to get the apps depending on your device:
Since I am an iPhone user, that will be my first review. I took a few screenshots you can see below.
When you install the app the only configuration that is needed is to provide your iPhone number so that Lync can connect calls and enable Simultaneously Ring between your Lync extension and your iPhone. You can also turn this feature off in the My Info screen if you want to. This is also the same screen you would use to change your status. It does no appear to change the status for you if you have been away, like the PC client does. Although that makes sense since you are with your phone. It would be nice if there was a way to set a toggle to make this easier to change, but I believe that might be a drawback of iOS.
There are also quite a few options you can select from the My Info screen. You can view the screenshot here. You also have the same options for Status that you get on the Windows client. (Screenshot)
The next part that most people look for is the contacts. They are the same as the ones you have on your client and will sync groups as well. The Chat is also pretty self explanatory and works as expected. I would like to see two improvements in the chat. They should utilize the integrated iOS 5 notifications and show if you missed a chat, and when a chat is missed, you should get some sort of change to the home screen icon. I would imagine this would change with voicemails, but I dont have any or use mine much to check that. If you select a contact in chat you can also see all their details. You also have options to call the person, invite others to the conversation, and store the chat as an email. A cool extra feature is the ability to send your location to the other person. Lync will use the iPhone GPS to find you on Bing Maps and then send a map and the location to the person you are chatting with.
Moving on to the meetings which was my most looked forward to feature. I have had mixed experiences so far. First for the good parts. If you set a online meeting within Outlook, it will automatically sync with your mobile client. As an added bonus, if another person in your organization sends a meeting invite for a Lync meeting it is also synced to your meetings. Once the meeting has synced you no longer need to type in the long code to join the meeting. Simply click on the meeting and select Join Meeting. Lync will then tell you to answer the incoming call to join the meeting. This is where one of the bad parts comes into play. The call comes from the main company number and not your direct dial if you have one. This is not the worse thing just something to be aware of. The other part I don’t like here is that it requires you to have phone service to join an online meeting that is using VOIP. I would like it to be more like Skype that I could run everything with wifi. This is not much of a problem when you are in your normal cell area, but if you are a US person traveling abroad, the cell phone minutes get very expensive. Possibly the ability to have it call with Skype could be a great tie in for Microsoft in a future release. The other very troubling thing that I found was when I was a meeting organizer and other people joined my meeting before I did, the system asked me to type * to allow the others to join. I attempted to do this 3 times and it never recognized the *. I had to go back to my old way and type in the full phone number and code to start my meeting. I have only tried this once so I am hoping it is a glitch and will not persist but it is worth mentioning.
The last spot is the actual phone. This works just like the softphone client. You can dial a number direct via the keypad, and check your voicemail. The voicemail screen is very close to the native iPhone voicemail screen so that is very nice. Again I have the same issue that you have to be able to accept a call to place a call. Microsoft needs to find a way to make this client truly a VOIP client.
Overall for the first version of the product I think Microsoft did a rather good job and for normal operations I think it will be extremely handy and I look forward to the updates as they come. Hopefully we will have an Android and iPad review up shortly as well so stay tuned.