Mobile Friendly Informatics Survey Results

A big thank you to all of you who took the time to complete the recent survey on the areas of the Informatics Computing Service where mobile (mobile in this context meaning a smartphone or tablet rather than a conventional laptop) support could be improved. 99 people responded and the results make interesting reading.

We had identified 6 areas in which mobile support could be improved:

  • printing
  • connection to AV equipment
  • improving web content on mobile devices
  • allowing mobile users to use authentication mechanisms such as kerberos to access secure School services
  • allowing mobile users to connect to the School’s network infrastructure via a VPN
  • providing the facility for users to access their DICE desktop machines on their mobile devices via a virtual desktop

There was also the option for respondents to suggest any areas we hadn’t though of. The results were:

  • printing – 53 votes
  • authentication – 52 votes
  • VPN – 47 votes
  • improving web content – 45 votes
  • accessing AV equipment – 41 votes
  • virtual desktop – 26 votes

Of the ‘other’ responses, two users felt that no improvement in mobile support was necessary, one user wanted to use their mobile device to access the Forum, and another provided a link to the Android Microsoft Remote Desktop app. This might prove useful for another user who wanted remote access to self-managed machines from Android.

Another respondent simply replied ‘Secure Shell’. In fact, Secure Shell clients are already available for iOS and Android at least and can be used to connect to the School’s SSH servers from outside. For some general information about this, see this computing.help page. Access to the room booking service was another request, presumably via a dedicated app rather than the normal web interface.

Finally there were two requests concerning services the School doesn’t actually manage. One user wanted Wifi access through WPA authentication without the need for proxy auth and another wanted streamline access to electronic versions of research articles from the University’s ejournals service. We will pass these on to the provider of these services.

We also asked respondents which mobile operating system they used on their devices. Android was the clear winner here with 67 users followed by iOS with 39 and Windows Mobile with 7.

So what now? Well, we’d like to discuss that with you and to that end, we would like to extend an invitation to the next CO technical discussion meeting on the 21st of May at 10am in IF-1.15 where we will chew over these results and decide what to do next. These discussion meetings are intended to be a forum where any technical topics likely to be of interest to Informatics users can be discussed so if you have a topic you would like to discuss at the meeting, related to mobile computing or not, please let me know. See you on the 21st!

Craig Strachan, cms@inf.ed.ac.uk

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