Lync, Microsoft's enterprise communications platform, is venturing beyond the compact confines of Android smartphones. Now Android tablet users can participate in Lync conversations, courtesy of a new app that supports both smartphones and tablets that run Google's mobile operating system.
On May 12, Lync Mobile Product Manager Barak Manor announced the availability of the new Lync app at the Google Play store. The app supports smartphones and tablets running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and later versions of Android with the exception of devices powered by Nvidia's Tegra2 mobile processor.
The move typifies Microsoft's new platform-agnostic approach to mobile computing. In March, the company finally launched its Office for iPad apps several months after releasing an Office app for the iPhone.
"The Lync team understands that people use a variety of devices, and we want to open the door for everyone to enjoy a great communications experience—no matter where you are or what device you're using," wrote Manor in a company blog post. Lync apps are also available for Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets, Windows Phone, iPad and iPhone.
Android has quickly dominated tablet sales. Data from market research firm Gartner shows that in 2013, Android became the top tablet OS with 62 percent of the market.
Just as Microsoft tailored the Office for iPad apps to fit the tablet form factor—instead of simply displaying the iPhone version at 2X—the company made a similar effort with the new Lync app. According to Manor, the "app includes the same features as the previous Lync for Android phone app, with adjustments to take advantage of larger tablet screens, including icon size, and image and video adjustments."
The update also offers new capabilities aimed at making it easier to start and join conversations, according to Manor. "In addition to Android tablet support, our team also added two great features to enhance your conversation experience—the ability to add participants to an ongoing conversation and the ability to start an ad hoc group conversation."
New to the updated Android app is the ability to invite colleagues to meetings that are already in progress, allowing attendees to gather additional feedback to input without starting over. "You can now add participants to an ongoing Lync Meeting," stated Manor. "Getting the input of the right person at the right time can save time and effort, and being able to add anyone to your meeting on the spot will help you accomplish this."
The app also supports Ad-hoc Group Conversation, a feature that allows for more impromptu collaborative experiences. "With Ad-hoc Group Conversation, you don't have to schedule a Lync Meeting and send an invitation to all the participants in advance," said Manor.
Users can start group conversations and meetings directly from work groups in their contact lists. They can specify instant messaging, call, video or email conversations, and will be alerted when contacts are offline and not available.