Last month I mentioned that I hadn’t received a download for the Skype for Business iOS Mobile Evaluation client. When I did, I’d test it out like I did for the Mac Preview Meetings client.
I received the download link two days after posting. Onto my phone went the iOS evaluation client, and testing began!
I quickly discovered something important though. The Mac Preview client is meant for staged development releases. Allowing users to test one set of features, before adding another. The iOS evaluation client is different.
I installed the evaluation client according to the instructions. You must use the TestFlight app to download the evaluation client.
(I had the existing Skype4B iOS client already installed on this phone. I was able to keep it, and even run it when the evaluation client wasn’t signed in.)
You must enter your Skype number on sign-in. I saw an error window after doing this – “Saving phone number disabled due to the server policy.”
However, the client did save my number, and we have no server policy in place to block number saves on phones. Hmm, an issue appears!
Features & Similarities to Standard Client
The standard Skype for Business mobile features are available:
- View Meetings
- Make calls
- Hear Voicemails
- IM Contacts
- Add Video to Conversations
- Join Meetings
The evaluation client UI is near-identical to the standard iOS client. So much so that at first I thought the only difference was Conversation History. On the login screen of the Standard Skype4B iOS client, you get recent phone-based Conversation History.
I thought at first that the evaluation client would either not have Conversation History at all, or it would link to the Skype for Business Server (like it’s supposed to!). Testing revealed however, that the evaluation client behaves just like the standard client. Conversation History shows up under “recent” on the login screen.
The TestFlight install screen does call attention to one additional function: Skype intelligently detects meetings on non-federated domains and auto-joins them as a guest user for you. Saves you a step.
The Real Value: Microsoft’s Ear
When checking the Settings screen, I noticed an additional line in the options list: “dogfood feedback”
As we’re a dog-themed IT company, I rather like that!
The term refers to the phrase, “eating your own dog food.” It means you use your own product to test and promote the same product. We’ve used the term for years now on our website. Every time Microsoft releases new software, we test it out in our datacenter before installing it for any customer. That way we know the software’s ins and outs beforehand, and can confidently say whether it will solve a customer’s problem.
In this case, Microsoft is asking all its preview users to submit “dogfood feedback.” I found the option under Settings, and in the options menu for each contact.
Why? Because Microsoft wants more feedback. And they’re offering their ear in exchange…a valuable opportunity.
Here’s what the Feedback Submission screen looks like.
I filled in a dummy example here, to show what kind of information Microsoft collects. I did submit feedback on the “Saving phone number” issue mentioned earlier.
Development Status: Further than Mac Preview, Not 100% Yet
Microsoft has not placed iOS Evaluation documentation on their Skype Preview website, www.skypepreview.com. As such I’m not sure the full extent of available or limited features in this client. We’re all waiting on more information, Microsoft!
Development on the iOS client is further along than the Mac Preview client we reviewed last time. I suspect Microsoft solicits feedback with the iOS client to help bolster other client updates, like Android Mobile.
Have an Issue with Skype for Business on iOS? Here’s Your Chance to Speak!
As far as I can tell, the iOS evaluation client does not have significant new features. The Meetings join functionality is nice, but it’s just an automation of existing processes.
What it does have is a built-in feedback mechanism for gathering user data. Microsoft is polling its users for more data it can crunch, informing future updates from the results.
While I was hoping for more features to test, this is good too!
If you have an issue with Skype for Business on iOS, here’s your chance to be heard. Join the iOS Mobile Evaluation at www.skypepreview.com, download the evaluation client, and select “dogfood feedback” wherever you experience the issue. Even if you experienced the issue with the standard Skype for Business client, that’s still valuable feedback. Send it in!