Skype for Business

New Lync features for Android—Anonymous Join, Passive Authentication and Contact Management

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Barak Manor is a product manager on the Lync team.

The holiday season is here and the Skype for Business team is bringing Android users some great presents. In this new release, we include Anonymous Join, Certificate & Passive Authentication, Contact Management, and some significant performance enhancements and bug fixes. We believe that enabling users to function fully on a mobile platform is a fundamental part of a mobile-first world, so we’re excited to introduce these new features and enhancements, each of which takes us another step toward realizing this vision.

Anonymous Join

Windows Phone and iOS devices already have Anonymous Join and now Android joins the party. With this feature you can join a Lync Meeting even if you don’t have a Lync account. That means you can invite colleagues, partners and customers to Lync Meetings and know that no matter how they choose to join—including on Android mobile devices—they’ll get great audio and video quality and call security without needing a PIN and dial-in numbers.

Let’s take a look at how easy and fast it is now for Android users without a Lync account to join a Lync Meeting from an email invite. When they receive the email invitation and click the meeting link, they just click Guest to sign in, enter their name, and wait for the organizer to admit them to the meeting.

Lync Android

Meeting invite in calendar, the Lync Sign In screen, a guest entering her name and waiting
in the virtual lobby.

Now that this new Anonymous Join feature makes it easy for guests to join your meetings, you can share the great experience of Lync on mobile devices with all your customers, partners and suppliers, including those using Android devices.

Please note that in order to initiate a Lync Meeting and enjoy the full power of the Lync service (like Presence, IM, Call Forwarding and Managing Lync Meetings), you need a Lync account with your company or with an Office 365 plan.

Certificate & Passive Authentication

Some customers prefer to limit the usage of Active Directory (AD) username and password credentials in order to address security concerns, including those associated with the use of smartphones and tablets. It has been challenging for these customers to take advantage of Lync mobile clients, which have until now relied on Active Directory credentials for every authentication.

These new capabilities enable admins to configure their environment for mobility even with strict policies around mobile security and authentication. In line with our mobile-first vision, we’re addressing these concerns in a way that minimizes the impact for users. For more details, please see the TechNet support page that explains the Lync Server 2013 configurations and Jens Trier Rasmussen’s blog post that dives deeper into the code and technology.

Contact Management

With Contact Management in Lync for Android, mobile users have no need to rely solely on their desktop client for contact management; they can add, remove and manage contacts on their mobile device as well. With this new feature, once you’ve found a new contact in a company-directory search, you can add that contact with a single click, and with another two clicks you can either move the contact to the proper group or completely remove it from your list.

Andriod 2

Finding a contact, adding a contact to a group and managing a contact that is on the list.

Please note that the Contact Management feature on Android (as well as for iOS and Windows Phone platforms) is now available only for the cloud-based O365 accounts and will be available to all on premise customers with the next version of Lync Server.

With these new features for Lync for Android, we’ve moved closer to the vision we on the Skype for Business team are committed to, as expressed by Satya Nadella, “In our mobile-first and cloud-first world, people need easier ways to create, share and collaborate, regardless of their device or platform.” (Computer World, November 10, 2014) We hope you’ll take advantage of these new capabilities soon to enhance your collaboration and productivity.

—Barak Manor

  1. Great update! Doesn’t seem that fair that O365 supports contact management but you have to upgrade to S4B to get the same feature. Any chance this can be back ported into Lync 2013 onprem?

    • Totally understand; in order to make this work in Android some server-side enhancements were necessary that due to dependencies we can’t easily back-port to earlier releases. That being said, upgrading to Skype for Business from Lync Server 2013 is much easier with the investment we’ve made for in-place upgrades.

      Jamie Stark
      Product Manager, Skype for Business

  2. Considering the 7 month gap since the last update I was expecting a bit more. I was warned not to expect much, but even so I’m underwhelmed. The Android version is still lagging considerably behind the iOS in features and user experience. If you’re really mobile-first, more work is needed.

    • Can you expand on this? I use both iOS and Android daily and the feature parity i find between the two from a client experience point of view quite similar. What features do you think are missing? And what needs to be added to Android to improve that?

      • The elephant in the room is the lack of screen sharing when you are attending a meeting remotely. I attend a morning meeting daily from my Android phone and the large group is often reviewing web content and using descriptors like “how about this line?” which of course, I can’t see. I previously used iOS which had the capability. The lack of screen viewing significantly hampers the Lync for Android attendee experience.

        As far as stability goes the Android client has come a long way and for the most part provides a consistent, reliable experience. I do occasionally get stuck in a “disconnected” loop that can only be remedied by restarting the Lync mobile client, but that happens far less than in previous versions.

  3. Will we be seeing any updates to Lync 2010 for Android? My company only uses 2010 and is not compatible with 2013 but I find 2010 to be needing a huge facelift. I cannot even connect to Lync meetings with the stock Chrome browser.

    • Other than hot fixes, security updates etc i doubt MSFT will invest much into the Lync 2010 platform at all. Lync 2010 is legacy now. If you want the superior Lync Mobile experience you’re going to have to upgrade to Lync 2013 or S4B when it arrives.

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