Nearly a year after launching Planner, Microsoft's answer to Trello, Blossom and other collaborative project management tools, the software giant has released a companion app for Android smartphones and the Apple iPhone. Planner is available to customers with subscriptions to Office 365 Enterprise (plans E1 through E5), Business Essentials, Business Premium or Education.
On the iPhone, the Microsoft Planner app requires iOS 9 or above. Android users will need a device that runs version 4.2 (Jelly Bean) of Google's mobile operating system or above.
Currently, there are limits to what users can do with the new mobile apps compared with the full-fledged web application. Getting started requires visiting tasks.office.com and creating plans using the browser-based version of Planner.
After those steps, users can launch the mobile companion app to view and update those plans. The mobile app also features chat functionality along with the ability to share files and assign tasks to fellow team members.
A future update will address a major functionality gap between the mobile and web apps. According to an online FAQ, Microsoft is planning to add the ability to create new plans directly within the mobile app. Microsoft is also working on push notifications and integrating the Planner mobile apps with Intune, the company's mobile device and application management platform.
The competition isn't sitting still while Microsoft pushes Planner into a more mobile direction. Last month, Trello added two new mobile app "Power-Ups," the company's term for additional features and integrations.
On iOS and Android devices, the new Calendar Power-Up allows users to view items with due dates in the application's calendar view, enabling them to better plan and anticipate their activities as project milestones approach. When it's time to decide on a course of action, the new Voting Power-Up enables teams to quickly come to an agreement.
"The Voting Power-Up brings the power of the people to your Trello boards. Collect feedback, prioritize, and plan as a team by enabling upvoting on cards," wrote Brian Cervino, product marketing manager at Trello, in a May 16 blog post. "From building a product roadmap to organizing a vacation with friends, the Voting Power-Up allows teams to find a consensus without long, drawn-out meetings."
Also last month, Zenkit announced an integration with workflow automation specialist Zapier, enabling customers to connect over 750 apps to the project management platform and eliminate many of the manual and repetitive tasks that are often part of keeping multi-app environments up-to-date.
"Your days of manually copying and pasting customer data are over," said Zenkit marketing manager Siobhan O'Rorke in a May 9 announcement. "Zapier can automatically update Zenkit collections with data from your favorite helpdesk services, email marketing platforms and forms."
Several popular third-party integrations are available among the hundreds provided by Zapier, including MailChimp, GitHub, Evernote and Google Sheets. Interestingly, Zapier's platform also allows users to connect Zenkit with project management rival Trello.