ShoreTel beefs up clients for mobile devices

ShoreTel Inc. has become the latest communications software company to hone clients for tablets and smartphones aimed at business users.

The company released ShoreTel Mobility 6 for Apple iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices on Tuesday.

However, in a briefing to technology reporters it focused on the functionality the new client will bring to iPad.

It said Tuesday the combination of the new ShoreTel Mobility 6 and the recently-released ShoreTel Conferencing on the Apple iOS platform will broaden the use of the tremendously popular tablet in enterprises with ShoreTel unified communications applications.

Bernard Gutnick, ShoreTel’s senior director of product marketing, went further than that, telling reporters the combo “may change the way people view the iPad.”

Both apps are free downloads from the Apple App Store.

Mobility 6 will allow tablet users to use the tablet for voice call, as a speakerphone and for instant messaging, while Conferencing for will let users collaborate and share presentations.

To get the most benefit from them, however, organizations will need ShoreTel infrastructure, although some voice functions will be available on SIP-supported IP PBXs from Cisco Systems and Avaya Inc.

Previously ShoreTel had a client for Apple iPhones that could be used on iPads, but not at native resolution. Some apps would appear stretched. However, Mobility 6 is made for the iPad’s larger screen.

Gutnick said Mobility 6 lets iPad users have the power of a smart phone with a large screen, becoming “a true communications device for voice and instant messaging.”

Mobility 6 lets users have multiple IM screens open simultaneously, he said, while handling a voice call at the same time. New IM or voice instances can be opened by dragging and dropping a name on an icon.

Although company-owned or personal iPads are commonly found in the carrying cases of business people, Gutnick said, many also carry laptops “for the tough stuff” like viewing slide shows and working on spreadsheets and a smart phone to replicate the functions of their desk phone.

ShoreTel’s goal is to help lighten their load with a client for tablets that can extend their functionality.

So connecting to a ShoreTel [Nasdaq: SHOR], Cisco or Avaya infrastructure, voice users have access to enterprise telephony features such as presence, extension dialing, visual voicemail and access to the corporate directory.

Voice calls use VoIP over Wi-Fi or cellular networks.

For security no corporate data is stored on mobile devices and the app can take advantage of virtual private networks, although only ShoreTel Mobility apps are encrypted.

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