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Inside Mobile Design and User Experience

Thoughts on mobile and social business applications, design, and user experience, by Chris Reckling.

File sync to your mobile device was a hot topic at the recently concluded IBM Connect conference in Orlando, FL. During the Opening General Session (OGS), Luis Benitez demo'd the feature on the main stage (about 45 min into it). Grif and I also were showing a recent build in the User Experience Lab. We got a lot of good feedback on the overall flow and use cases we are supporting.

I should mention that today you can download files to your device and access them in the Downloads view. I talked about that in June 2012 here. While that functionality is excellent, it is not sync and it is a bit hidden in the UI, via the Downloads view on the dropdown.

The first thing we wanted to do it make it super easy to sync a file on the device. This caused a bit of redesign on all the actions to make them more consistent and visible. Most people I asked in the lab understood what the icons meant. On the details page for a file, tap the sync button to add it to your offline storage. Here you can also determine whether you want that file automatically updated. (There is a setting to always sync, too - we found that people wanted options available, depending on their own patterns.)
Image:Connections File Sync

Offline files are stored in a device-encrypted database which you access via the "File Sync" tab on the left navigation. We wanted it to be really easy to access these, so we moved the view to the main left navigation. From this view you can quickly open or view files and perform other file management tasks, like update and remove from sync. The app alerts you when a file is out of date and you can decide when to sync it.
Image:Connections File Sync

File Sync is planned to be delivered on SmartCloud first, then rolled into Connections on premises. More details will emerge over the next few months. We know we need to do a desktop version of sync, as Luis demonstrated, to complete the picture. I'm sure you have questions, let's have them!

Chris Reckling
Mobile UX
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Chris Reckling | 4 February 2013 05:45:00 PM ET |

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