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Conference Calling Apps and Services Update

With Enterprise Connect a thing of the past, and more attention being paid on Video Conferencing these days than audio conference calls, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what’s been happening of late with the more widely used mode of communications. At the core of all the new developments is the rising pressure of WebRTC, faster processors in mobile devices and in theory faster broadband connectivity being offered as more fiber gets deployed in the ground and faster mobile networks with LTE coming on stream. With that in mind I decided to take a look at what's new and which service providers are changing the game:

For starters, this past week UberConference updated their iOS app and it is now in the iTunes App Store. The second-generation app is a complete new app that mirrors the second edition of the product that was launched in December. What’s new in the app is the ability for users create a conference instantly, as well as schedule one in the future which was missing in the prior version. Smartly, the team at UberConference has included a full demo mode so you can try it and create conferences without even needing to create an account. The experience is faster and the new app quickly loads over 3500 contacts easily.

I also noted this week that while using the GoToMeeting app on my iPad and iPhone how Citrix has upped their game, improving the audio experience, drawing more upon the technology from former client HiDef Conferencing that they acquired creating a more robust user experience.  While not using WebRTC, GoToMeeting, like competitor WebEx, works very well over LTE at least when you’re stationery. The other key function that has been added is a fully integrated calendar acess making it very easy to join a meeting while in motion. The most recent release to version 6.0 also makes the mobile app and Mac/PC apps pretty much in sync.

Client Calliflower has been successfully tested on the Android Tablet using Opera and Chrome making them the first WebRTC browser experience on mobile from a conferencing provider. Given they were the first to originally have an app in the iTunes store this is a testament to their prowess at working with standards to deliver on the premise of WebRTC. I used the latest Android Nexus 7 tablet, and successfully made calls over both WiFi and the AT&T LTE network. In both cases the calls were clear, crisp and void of any delays.

Client Voxeet continues to make steady improvements to their app and platform. When wearing a headset the audio experience is without question the best HD audio experience around. More importantly the ability to move the participants around on the iPhone, iPad or Android, as well as on a Windows PC. Their integration of WebRTC, plus some really good audio/acoustic work has surpassed Skype in audio quality which these days not hard as the Skype experience post Microsoft acquisition hasn’t been great, but with Voxeet one on one and group calls harken back to the days when Skype audio was the standard. What's most impressive is how fast the app loads a large contact directory and how smoothly Voxeet integrates with my Facebook Friends list.

All this leads to what is Cisco really doing with WebEx? WebEx seems to have stalled, and last week on some calls I was scheduled to be on the issues others experienced and which I did led to believe that WebEx was having authentication issues as logging in just wasn’t happening either by dial up or even over the Internet.

Maybe Cisco needs to take a book out of Citrix and buy something modern.


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