A First Look at Cisco Mobile 8.0

“Ensure people can be reached when needed” has become a key tactic, perhaps even strategy, for many businesses. Along with other technologies, mobile Unified Communications (UC) can be an important component in reaching that goal. Cisco has put a great deal of effort into mobile-enabling their UC products, and today I want to take a quick look at one development in that arena.

Those who know me are fully aware that in addition to being a fan of Cisco UC, I’m also a fan of Apple and their products.  Browsing the App Store on your iPhone or iPad, you may have come across the Cisco Mobile 8.0 application. To oversimplify things, this app puts a Cisco softphone on your iPhone. Just open the app, connect to the corporate network via WiFi (with or without a VPN) and you’re ready to place and receive calls.

But there are few other features too. For starters, you have access to some basic call handling features like call park, transfer, and conferencing.  But if your unified messaging system supports IMAP, then you can use the visual voicemail feature in the app too. There’s also the ability to use the corporate directory so any contacts you’ve built up there will be available when you’re using the app.

The Administration Guide for Cisco Mobile 8.0 for iPhone does a very good job of walking you through the setup process step-by-step. Without going into every little detail, the process begins by making sure you’re on a supported version of Cisco UC Manager. Some versions require the download and installation of a Cisco Options Package (“COP”) file.

Next, you add the mobile device as you would any other phone, including setting up a shared line appearance with your desk phone. If you use adjunct licensing, one DLU will be required.  If you use it as a stand-alone device, then four DLUs will be required. Once the CUCM is setup for the new phone and the app has been installed, it’s very easy to enter the settings into the app.

The only catch you may run into is that the contacts on your iPhone do not have outside line access included in their phone numbers. This makes dialing from your contacts a real drag.  But you can build dial rules to get around the problem, and that’s touched upon in the Administration Guide. If you’re like me, and already have your iPhone contacts in E.164 format already (i.e., +1 416 555 1000) that will make the dial rules a bit easier, not to mention make using your iPhone seamless when you cross international borders.

In the coming weeks, I’ll show the setup process along with some screen shots, so check back.

Author: Bob Long

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2 comments

  1. Mike Reply

    Hi,

    Nice write up!

    I have the Mobile 8 running on my iphone and my UC, Ciscos walk through was easy to follow. One thing I am noticing though is the app has to be in the forefront at all times. If you try to bring up anything else it closes and disconnects immediatly even though according to apple the Iphone 4’s can multitask. If you double hit the center button and bring anything else up it will park your call or discconnect you from your phone system. It is kind of dumb that you can not do anything else except the Cisco App. The point of this app is so that you can have 2 phones, your cell and your IPT phone. So if I am doing anything else on the Iphone I will not receive a call on my extension.

    Have you noticed this or have any work around for it?

    thanks
    Mike

  2. Bob Long Reply

    Mike,

    Your observations are correct; you’ve described the operation of the Mobile 8 App. Hopefully, Cisco will leverage the multi-tasking capabilities of the newer Apple iOS releases to update the app and add the functionality you (and many of us) desire. But at the moment, the app needs to be open and in full view to function as advertised.