Shoretel is bringing is its unified communications capabilities to Apple's iPad via two apps, a move that officials said will make the popular tablet even more attractive to those looking to use it for business.
Shoretel officials on March 5 announced the availability of Shoretel Mobility 6 and Shoretel Conferencing for iOS, two new releases of their UC technology that have been optimized for the iPad and can be found in the Apple App Store.
In a Webcast press conference conducted via the apps on his own iPad, Bernard Gutnick, senior director of product marketing at Shoretel, noted the iPad's continued popularity and its growing use in the business world—84 million units sold to both consumers and into businesses, 72 percent of mobile workers who use tablets and the 64 percent share the iPad has in the tablet market.
Trends like a more mobile workforce and bring your own device (BYOD) are driving the use of such devices as smartphones and tablets in the enterprise. The iPad already is popular for everything from email and Web apps, and giving it the tools to enable its use as a communications device will only make it more attractive to business users, Gutnick said.
"If you have 50 reasons why you love the iPad, we're now giving you two more," he said. "People are bringing more and more devices to work."
The new apps will bring integrated collaboration capabilities to the device, according to Shoretel officials. Shoretel Mobility 6 offers a native iPad user interface that allows for multiple ways to communicate from the tablet—from receiving and making calls with their desktop phone caller ID and instant messaging to voice mail messages and multi-party calls—by leveraging the iPad's touch-screen.
With ShoreTel Conferencing for iOS, users can share presentations that are on their iPads or iPhones with remote colleagues, and can view the shared desktops of participants' PCs and Apple Macs.
The products are available now as a free download from the Apple App Store, and can be used on iPads, iPad Minis, iPhones and iPod Touch devices, though some functions will be limited on smaller screens. Gutnick said Shoretel officials are evaluating the question of bringing the same functionality to tablets running Google's Android mobile operating system.
They also come with the security demanded by IT in the BYOD world, he said, noting the automatic VPN log-on and support for Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 128/256 encryption.
This isn't the first time that Shoretel has made its UC technology available to mobile device via apps. In October 2011, the company began offering its ShoreTel Mobility solution—which enables the integration of mobile devices with IP PBX systems—to tablets and smartphones running both Android and the BlackBerry OS 6 platform. By that time, Shoretel already was supporting devices running Apple's iOS.
In June 2012, Shoretel, leveraging the capabilities gained through the acquisitions of Agito Networks and M5 Networks, started bringing UC apps to mobile users via the cloud.
Gutnick said it is important for Shoretel to continue bringing its UC capabilities to mobile devices, given that more workers are mobile.
"People don't just work at their desk anymore," he said.
The issue of UC apps also will be raised at the upcoming Enterprise Connect 2013 event in Orlando, Fla., March 18 to 21. In a Jan. 14 post on the No Jitter blog site, Marty Parker, a consultant with UniComm Consulting, said that apps will be a major driver for UC, noting that apps also have fueled the rise of smartphones and BYOD, and are now crucial in enterprise software and online services.
"So, why is this the key to UC, and what can you do about it?" Parker wrote. "In the end, Apps package UC functions into things that improve your organization for your employees, your customers and your business processes."
He said he will discuss UC and apps during a March 19 session at Enterprise Connect entitled "Designing and Implementing CEBP for Your Organization."
"CEBP is short for the long name for Apps: Communications-Enabled Business Processes," Parker wrote in his blog post.