Cloud

Amazon launches Chime to replace 'clunky and hard to use' video conferencing tools

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has officially launched Chime, a unified communications tool that offers video and audio conferencing tools across multiple platforms.

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Image: Amazon

Chime, a new communications tool from Amazon Web Services (AWS), could make it easier and more efficient for business professionals to join conference calls from any device. Announced on Tuesday, Amazon Chime allows users to start or join audio and video meetings on iOS, Android, or desktop.

According to a press release, Chime users can start meetings with a simple click, as well as share their screen or additional content. The goal of the product is to provide a more simple process for attending these virtual meetings, while also solving common connectivity and quality problems, the release said.

"It's pretty hard to find people who actually like the technology they use for meetings today," Gene Farrell, vice president for enterprise applications at AWS, said in a press release. "Most meeting applications or services are hard to use, deliver bad audio and video, require constant switching between multiple tools to do everything they want, and are way too expensive."

SEE: How AWS' Chime, cloud business productivity apps play into Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud battle

Once a call is initiated, Chime will call all participants so they just need to click within the app to join the call. There is no PIN required, and any attendee can mute any line to eliminate background noise, according to the release. It also doesn't take long to set up, as users merely download the app and get started.

Being that there is no PIN required, it's also easy to re-join the meeting if connectivity issues or device failure get in the way. And, if a user is running behind, they can click the "running late" button to let the other meeting attendees know they are being held up. A visual roster also shows all participants who is on the call and who won't be able to make it, the release said.

In terms of screen sharing, there isn't a big focus on a meeting "leader," as any participant can share their screen or content at any time. If users want to connect outside of the meeting, there are Amazon Chime chat rooms that allow them to work together and store content to reference later on.

Additionally, the release noted that "Amazon Chime can be integrated with existing corporate directories, and provides IT administrators the ability to manage identities and control access across an organization."

Amazon Chime Basic Edition is the free version, which gives users the ability to use voice or video calls, messaging, and chat. For $2.50 per user, per month, a company can access Amazon Chime Plus Edition with additional user management features (including email domain management), Active Directory configuration options, and 1GB of message history storage. The Amazon Chime Pro Edition costs $15 per user, per month, and adds meeting and screen share support for 100 users, including support for "mobile, laptop, and in-room video along with unlimited VoIP support," the release said.

With Chime, Amazon is entering a crowded market. In video and audio conferencing it will be competing with the likes of Skype for Business and Cisco's WebEx, while its chat and messaging features are going up against Slack and Microsoft Teams. However, if Amazon can win over some enterprises to its products, it could even better position itself as not only a cloud infrastructure provider, but a business software provider that could challenge the legacy of companies like Microsoft.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Amazon launched Chime, a cross-platform video and audio conferencing tool for businesses.
  2. Amazon Chime requires no PIN, and attendees can rejoin a meeting from any device, and share their screen at any time.
  3. The basic version is free, but the paid versions of Amazon Chime add features like user management, message history storage, and unlimited VoIP support.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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