Mobile devices, tablets in particular, are marking another exciting phase in online conferencing, as LTE and plentiful Wi-Fi allow mobile workers to be away from their PCs. I recently had a chance to review iMeet, an online conferencing platform, and their free iMeet HD for iPad client using a third generation iPad.
I recommend that any person or organization shopping for a mobile conferencing solution be very discerning about product features, usability, and connectivity, because the mobile conferencing market is very crowded and noisy right now. iMeet HD for iPad and the iMeet conferencing platform is worthy of your attention because of its usability, features, and connectivity.
First reactionsThe iMeet HD for iPad client is a graceful and well designed iPad app. Better yet, it's consistent with the iMeet web interface, which is important for mobile workforces with users of varying technology experience. Figure A shows the iMeet opening screen. Figure A
Welcome to the iMeet HD for iPad app.
The iMeet HD Auto-Connect option is a definite selling point for this app and the iMeet platform. It instantly connects your audio through your iPad with no laborious dial-in or dial-out. You and your guests go straight to the iMeet meeting room where you're holding your meeting. I've tried a wide range of mobile conferencing apps, and the iMeet HD for iPad app has the quickest connection time from device to cloud service that I've seen yet.The iMeet platform provides you with a secure meeting room with a simple URL -- www.iMeet.com/user_name -- so there's no complicated URL for your guests to remember. It's easy to lock and unlock your meeting room directly from the mobile app. Figure B shows an initial view of an iMeet meeting room. Figure B
Inside an iMeet meeting room.
Meeting management using iMeet HD
Adding guests is a simple task that opens an email template with all the details that a guest needs to join your online meeting, including your iMeet room URL and dial in shortcuts for iPhone, Android OS, and even BlackBerry.
A growing part of my job seems to take place over online conferencing, and I make it a point to look up the other attendees on LinkedIn if I don't know them. With iMeet, you can spin the person's information cube to see their profile, photo, and contact information. This is a convenient feature, but users need to add the information themselves.
Another nice connect option is the option to call guest, which prompts the service to call a new guest for your meeting using their information from your contacts list.
Video, audio, and chat
The iMeet HD for iPad app supports streaming video, and you can use either the front- or rear-facing iPad camera during the course of online meetings.
You have the option to audio conference over a call in line or through the iPad microphone. Volume controls are easily accessible from the app, and so are dial in options. iMeet does a great job of clearly documenting all call in information in the app, which I like for mobile users.
The app also includes a chat system that's handy as a backup for those times phone connections go awry or something is better communicated via text.
My vision of the future of mobile conferencing is PC-free. I'm talking not even a laptop when I see the future. For my vision to happen, mobile conferencing apps must have easy-to-use file management tools that grant mobile users complete access to files across their cloud storage accounts.
While I find the iMeet Files dialog box easy to use, you can't add files directly from the iPad. The app lets you load up to 250 MB of files to your iMeet account for use in the meeting, but what I'm really seeking in a mobile conferencing app is the ability to add files from cloud storage accounts for use in meetings.Currently, you can email files from an iPad to an iMeet meeting room using firstname.lastname@example.org, and they appear directly in the file cabinet and are available for sharing. There's also support for adding videos from YouTube directly from the mobile app. Figure C shows the iMeet files dialog box. Figure C
iMeet files dialog box.
The iMeet HD for iPad app includes easy-to-use controls over meeting room options:
- Room Key and URL -- an easy method to secure a private meeting
- Room Name and Theme -- companies can customize with their own branding and theme
- SMS/Email Message -- lets you set SMS and email alerts for your guests, and there's a full range of dialing options (like international calling and on hold music)
Social network and app integration
iMeet supports integration with Evernote, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Twitter directly from the iMeet HD for iPad app. These integrations may or may not serve useful purposes, depending on your organization's attitudes towards the apps.The Evernote integration stands out because it enables the viewing of existing notes and creation of new notes. Figure D shows Evernote access from within iMeet. Figure D
Evernote access from within iMeet.
iMeet HD and the iPad
iMeet HD for iPad and the iMeet conferencing service are a wonderful convergence of usability, responsiveness, and connectivity, all which are necessary for an optimal mobile conferencing experience. Do you use iMeet or another mobile conferencing app in your organization? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.