Last week, we got a new version of Skype for Business for iOS. This replaces the Lync 2013 app for iPhones and iPads.
I first got the heads-up from Guy Bachar’s “Just a Lync Guy” blog, when he posted on Twitter. So I went to the App Store and got myself a copy.
Note: I recommend deleting the Lync app and installing Skype for Business fresh. Some early-adopters said they had trouble with the upgrade path.
After some time fiddling with the app, I’m prepared to blog. So let’s see what we Lync/Skype fans have to work with on our iPhones now, shall we?
I used the same sign-in process as I did with Lync 2013. Entering email and password, then opening Advanced Options and entering a domain-based username. Like this: DOMAIN\chris.w.
This is required by our Skype for Business Server setup, and is mentioned in the Skype for Business Help under “Need help signing in to Skype for Business (iOS)?”. Your setup may vary slightly. I’m mentioning it here in case you keep seeing “Cannot Sign In” messages.
Once you’re logged in you have three primary screen options – Contacts, Meetings and Phone. In Lync 2013, I also had a “Chats” screen. This is not present in Skype for Business. Yet. Instead we have an “Upcoming” screen which displays upcoming meetings.
From here you’re able to:
- View upcoming calendar events, including meetings
- Make & receive voice calls, including video
- Join Online Meetings
- View Presence status for contacts (and change your own)
- Listen to voicemails
The biggest change between the Lync iOS app and the Skype for Business iOS app is, of course, the new interface. I’d say the iOS app looks a little more “bubbly” than the desktop client, but maybe that’s just me.
In addition, Skype4B iOS also has:
- Enhanced In-Call and In-Meeting experiences
- Full-screen video, with simultaneous viewing of the shared content and speaker’s video
- Larger buttons for meeting controls
- Support for Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL) based multi-factor authentication
It’s a mobile app, which often means reduced feature sets. Microsoft has listed out the limitations in the initial release here: Some Lync 2013 for iPhone/iPad features are missing in Skype for Business for iOS – Microsoft Support
Accessing a contact’s Contact Card.
Sharing PowerPoint presentations (but this is expected in a future update). I wouldn’t want to manage an Online Meeting from my phone anyway! But having the option using an iPad does make sense.
Return a call using a Voicemail message.
Set Call Forwarding options, or use Call Transfer.
You do need a device running iOS 9. If you’re still on iOS7 or 8, the new Skype for Business will not install. Instead iTunes will install “the latest version supported”, which is Lync 2013.
There’s also still a bug with saving conversations on the server. This was a major advancement for Skype for Business: server-based Conversation History. Yet users are reporting that they don’t see iOS-initiated Conversations in their desktop Conversation History.
I tested this out myself by having a brief chat with a co-worker using Skype for Business. Me on a phone, he on a desktop. After 30 minutes, he saw the conversation in his Outlook’s Conversation History. I did not.
Verdict: It’s Staying on My Phone, But It’s Not Perfect Yet
The price of early adoption is an imperfect experience. If you’ve ever beta-tested app, you know this. This new Skype4B app is missing some features I’d like (call forwarding options, Conversation History), but it’s now on an upgrade cycle. We’ll see more features come up soon.
Meanwhile, the app doesn’t crash on me. It lets me communicate with co-workers and customers. Skype for Business on iOS does its job.
Do you have Skype for Business on your iPhone/iPad yet? What’s your experience? Please comment or email your thoughts.
Now I have to think of a Halloween-themed post for next week, hmmm…