Browsing the archives for the iPad tag.

Skype on iPad vs. Lync 2013 on iPad: Dual App Reviews

Lync 2013 Client, Skype for Business, Voice over IP

Continuing the reviews today, we move to the iPad!

Today I’m reviewing 2 client apps – Skype (latest version) and Lync 2013. I don’t use Skype much on here; I have a webcam on my main system for that. But it’s still fully capable. So is Lync.

In fact, my overall results of these tests were higher-quality than the iPhone. Let’s see.

(FYI: These tests were conducted on an iPad 2.)

Skype on iPad – The Facts & Features

Skype on the iPad does pretty much exactly what Skype on the PC does: Make Calls and Video Chats. The interface is more stripped-down than the PC version (not surprising for an iPad app).

Skype Profile Window

MAKING CALLS: I only have a few people on Skype – mostly friends, as we don’t use this for work. (Yet!) So I called two of them & explained why.

If you’ve ever used Skype, you know it has its own protocol for voice: the SILK codec. Skype for Business will take advantage of this codec too. I don’t have any exact measurement tool for sound quality – just a good headset (see my previous Device Review) and my ears.

To these tools, Skype’s audio sounds just as clear as Lync’s. Depending on the other party’s connection, even clearer.

Skype Number Pad

VIDEO CHAT: I tested video chat with a co-worker who worked from home yesterday. Now, Skype is well-known for making video chats easy. Easier than Lync 2013 in some respects.

That said, having mostly used Lync for video calls, the lag time and jitter in my Skype video chat was disappointing. Neither of us was on a VPN, or a low-bandwidth connection. Yet my co-worker’s face kept jerking & going out of sync with his own words.

USER IMPRESSIONS: Perhaps my video sync issue was isolated. When I talked with other Skype users and read reviews on the App Store, it was not among the chief issues reported.

The most frequent complaints were Dropped Calls and Lack of Three-Way Calling. The latter is partly understandable (see “Limitations” for why). Dropped calls is partially explained by the varying connection speeds in use at the consumer level. The same issue affects some of our clients’ remote Lync users. It’s annoying, and there’s only so much compensation you can do with your network bandwidth.

LIMITATIONS: Skype’s Group Video chats are not accessible on mobile devices like iPads. Three-Way Calling (audio only) is possible on mobiles, but you can’t start one from an iPad. A Skype user on a PC or Mac must start it. Hence why user frustration is understandable – you have to message someone from your iPad and ask them to start a three-way call with you!

The Question of Skype Subscriptions

I followed a link from the Skype app to their Rates page: http://www.skype.com/en/rates/

For years now, people have paid for Skype to call non-Skype numbers. It’s a cheap and good-quality way to keep in touch with everybody.

But I saw nothing on the page about the impending changes wrought by Skype for Business 2015.

Which makes me wonder – WILL there be any changes on this side? Will Microsoft dare to poke the beast that is Skype’s Worldwide Market?

We’ll find out soon.
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Lync 2013 on iPad – The Facts & Features

Lync 2013 on the iPad is almost identical to Lync 2013 on iPhone. Though it benefits greatly from the iPad’s larger screen. Much easier to navigate its functions and carry on conversations.

I’d argue that using Lync 2013 on an iPad is even easier than on a desktop. This is one instance where Microsoft took full advantage of a mobile device’s size.

Lync iPad Contacts

The Lync 2013 screen has 5 main windows available: Contacts, Chats, Meetings, Phone, and Profile. These correspond to the desktop client exactly.

  • Make calls & review voicemails from the Phone window (these are synced from the Lync Server)
  • View contacts’ Presence and initiate conversations from the Contacts window
  • Review Meetings scheduled in your Outlook calendar in the Meetings window
  • View Conversation History (local to iPad) under the Chats window
  • Update your own Presence and Lync options in the Profile window

CALLS AND MEETINGS: IM conversations on the iPad go smoothly, and have for months. I initiated a Lync Call to two co-workers (one the remote worker I mentioned earlier). Both calls were comparable to the Skype Call. I used the same Jabra headset.

Lync Calls

To test Meetings, I scheduled a meeting on my laptop, and joined it on my iPad. The two co-workers invited joined as well, one from their laptop, and one from their phone. We had a bit of tinny background noise for the first 2 minutes. But it cleared up. I did not notice any other jitter or lag.

USER IMPRESSIONS: There’s a notable user impression in the Lync 2013 Reviews pane I should mention. This user says that, if the device runs iOS 8, Lync 2013 becomes unstable and will crash.

Now, this iPad has NOT been updated to iOS 8 yet – it’s old enough that the update would lead to a serious performance slowdown – so I don’t see this error. (In fact, Lync didn’t give me any trouble at all.) But a stability question, possibly dependent on the OS involved, merits mentioning.

Otherwise, impressions indicate a few complaints on connection issues adding people to Meetings. I didn’t find much on poor call quality or dropped calls. Given that Lync is more often used while on a corporate network, this isn’t surprising.

LIMITATIONS: Lync 2013 has the same limitation on the iPad it does on the iPhone – Conversation History is limited to conversations using the iPad.

Lync Conversation History

I hold out hope that this will be resolved, eventually!

Verdict: Lync Slightly Ahead of Skype, Integration Should Favor Lync Usability

Microsoft’s claim for Skype for Business 2015 is that Lync Server will take on more of the Skype UI. Thus making it more appealing to a wide audience, simpler to navigate, and consistent across all devices.

In the iPad/tablet sphere, I think Microsoft should reverse this script. Here Lync is the more intuitive UI, with the more responsive controls. Building Skype look & feel into the interface, go for it. But keep as much of Lync’s app-level functionality as possible. It does the job very well.

What’s your experience using Lync 2013 and/or Skype on the iPad? Please comment or email your thoughts.

Next week I have another Device Review…and you’re definitely going to love this one. See you then!

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Lync 2013 Hits the App Store – Ideal for Mobile Meetings

Lync Server 2013

The Lync 2013 Client for iOS is now in the App Store. Time to celebrate!

I’ve been using Lync 2010 with our new Lync Server 2013 system for weeks now. It does the job, but I was missing out on several things. Like making calls out. So I eagerly awaited the 2013 upgrade.

Microsoft has not disappointed.

What to Expect: Calling Features, Video, Everything You Like About Lync

Just a few minutes of fiddling with Lync 2013 on my phone has shown it has all the Lync features available:

  • Making/receiving Enterprise Voice calls
  • Video calls
  • Instant Messaging
  • Chat
  • Presence awareness
  • Attend Lync Online Meetings

Everything you’d expect from the Lync 2013 desktop client. The interface is almost identical too – clean and functional.

Simultaneous Ring works perfectly. Video calls are so smooth, they reminded me of the subspace conversations from Star Trek!

Search for “Microsoft Lync 2013 for iPhone” to find it in the App Store.

The iPad version was also released. Between the two, I actually like the iPad client better. Since it has more screen space, the interface makes full use of it.

The screen is split into 2 vertical columns. On the left you have contacts. Touch one and full Lync contact options pop up in the right column. Call, IM, video, email.

Here’s a screenshot of the contact details (on a dummy account we have set up):

Lync 2013 on iPad 2

Access your own info from the Lync icon at top-left. As well as IM, Chats and your phone.

Lync 2013 for Mobile Requirements

  • Your phone/tablet must be on iOS 6, at least.
  • And you have to have CU1 installed on Lync to get the new version to work
  • You will need Mobility Services enabled in Lync Server 2013 to fully use the iPhone client.

Take care of those requirements and you’re set. I’m running Lync 2013 on an iPhone 3GS and an iPad 2, both running iOS 6.1.2. Zero issues.

Lync 2013 has been released for Windows Phone 8 too. But it looks like Android users will have to wait a little longer.

Conferencing: Jason Perlow Calls Lync “Telecommuter’s Dream” (And I Agree!)

The new mobile clients are great for staying in touch. But what I – and Jason Perlow – really appreciate about them is the Conferencing capability.

Jason has discussed Lync’s value on his Tech Broiler blog for ZDNet:
Why I love Lync 2013: A telecommuter’s dream come true – ZDNet

In the piece (which is already making the social media rounds,) Jason praises Lync 2013’s conferencing abilities as invaluable to telecommuters like himself. Great points on how Lync makes communication easy, no matter where you are or what medium you’re using.

We have engineers in the field all day. We use Lync to communicate back and forth, and for conference calls with clients.

As soon as our engineers are back in the office, I’m bugging them about updating to Lync 2013 on their phones.

How will you use Lync 2013 for Mobile? Please share your experiences!

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Using Lync on the iPad: What You Need to Do First

Instant Messaging (IM), lync server 2010, Microsoft Lync, Unified Communications, Voice over IP

Before you can use the Lync 2010 client for the iPad/iPad 2/New iPad, you’ll need to configure Lync Server’s backend to allow it.

Let me back up a second. The other day, I won an iPad 2 from a raffle! OpSource ran the raffle at Cloud Connect 2012. (Great way to start your week, huh?)

After familiarizing myself and loading up a few apps, I grabbed the Lync for iPad client app too. (We’ve visited mobile clients before, in case you missed it.)

Lync for iPad does most everything the Lync 2010 desktop client does. There’s a few limitations – you can’t modify your contacts lists for one. Or view video in online meetings. Or share your desktop. But IM, Presence, Voice? All available.

Okay, so time to try this out.

Dead simple sign-in here. Just enter your Lync login and password, and click Sign In. Lync Server is up & functioning normally. You’ve already pushed out desktop clients…should log in without a hitch, right?

And then my login failed.

(In case you can’t read the error line well, it says, “Can’t connect to the server. It might be unavailable. Also please check your network connection, sign-in address and server addresses.”)

Uh oh. Something’s not working.

Mobile Support Not Ready, Captain! Prepare the CU4 and Mobility Service Update!

As it turns out, the problem isn’t one ‘something.’ It’s two.

There are two prerequisites to using Lync for iPad. Both must be installed on Lync Server before I can connect.

1. Lync Server Cumulative Update 4 (CU4)
2. Lync Mobility Service and Autodiscover Service (properly configured)

Remember back in December, when I discussed CU4? That’s half of the solution for running Lync on iPads (and iPhones, Androids, etc.).

The other half is the Lync Server 2010 Mobility Service and Autodiscover Service. It’s a free add-on which essentially expands your Lync setup to include mobile devices.

Since my CU4 post, the “I’m a UC Blog” has posted a great step-by-step guide to installing the Lync Mobility Service and Autodiscover Service.

The setup process goes like this:

  1. Create internal and external discovery records.
  2. Install Cumulative Update 4 (CU4) if it isn’t already.
  3. Adjust Windows Server 2008 and ASP.NET, if necessary.
  4. Install the Mobility Service components.
  5. Update internal SAN certificate.
  6. Configure Forefront TMG with a new Web Publishing Rule for Lync Mobility.

(They even included Forefront TMG configuration steps!)

Before You IM on iPad, Download CU4 and the Mobility Service Components

If you want to use Lync Server on mobile devices – including the iPad – then you must setup Cumulative Update 4 and the Mobility Service (and Autodiscover Service) first.

I’ve mentioned CU4 already, and last month CU5 was released. You should have both installed. If not, head to my previous posts right now!

For those who just need the download links, here they are:
Lync Server Cumulative Update 4 Downloads – Microsoft Downloads

Lync Server 2010 Mobility Service and Autodiscover Service Components – Microsoft Downloads

Now, time for me to pester the server team about finishing these updates!
When we’re done, I’ll take you on a screenshot tour of Lync for iPad.

Do you have Lync clients running on an iPad? What’s your experience like so far?

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OCS on the iPad? You'd Be Missing Something

Conferencing, Instant Messaging (IM), OCS 2007, OCS 2007 R2, Voice over IP

I'm not a huge Apple fan. But I've played with a couple iPads friends have bought in recent months. I sat down to write today's post and my thoughts trailed toward the iPad.

I thought, “Since OCS' Communicator will run on the iPhone, would it work on the iPad too?”

On the surface there's no reason why not. The iPad is larger. Better screen. It has a microphone and speaker built-in. Just about everything in Communicator DOES work on iPad – IM, VoIP, audio conferencing.

Except for one thing – video conferencing.

Why? The iPad doesn't have a webcam.

With a tablet, you'd expect the ability to do video calls. Sure, you could watch the other person talking to you if THEY had a webcam. But they couldn't see you – not without a webcam plugged in (somehow). Only hear you. And that's at best a clunky solution for an otherwise-slick mobile platform.

Why Consider OCS on the iPad/Tablets?

The iPad has kicked off a big interest in tablet PCs. At least some of the 3 million iPads sold are used by businesses already. (I saw a bunch used as slideshow displays at the Web 2.0 Expo.) With Dell, Samsung and other companies rushing for the tablet market, it's practically a given that tablets will be used as PC replacements in force.

When we get there though, will OCS be viable for communications on them? That's the question.

Conferencing/VoIP on Tablets – A Future Possibility

At this point it's largely a matter of speculation. Even on the current fast-track, companies probably won't embrace tablets for mobile communications soon. (Not while laptops & smartphones do the job.) I'm sure Microsoft will make OCS apps for tablets. But they may not see widespread VoIP or conferencing use, even if tablets go mainstream in business.

At least,until Apple puts a camera in the iPad.

What do you think? Are iPads (or other tablets) slipping into your workplace? Do you think they'd be viable communications devices,for everything from IM to Conferencing?

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    The Lync Insider/Skype4B Insider is a blog about the technology we use to communicate in business today. Here we talk about Microsoft's Skype for Business Server 2015, Lync Server 2013, Unified Communications, Voice over IP and related technologies like Exchange Server. Written by Chris W., MCSE in Communication and PlanetMagpie IT Consulting's Tech Writer.
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