by Brian Peterson, co-founder and VP of Front-End Engineering
Today we announced that UberConference will showcase its packaged app in the Google I/O Developer Sandbox on May 16 & 17. Google I/O is an annual developer conference featuring highly technical, in-depth sessions, and showcasing the latest from Google’s product teams and partners. The UberConference team has been invited to demonstrate its implementation of WebRTC in packaged apps and connect with I/O attendees developer-to-developer to answer questions and exchange ideas. Packaged apps’ cross platform capabilities will allow UberConference to run smoothly on Chromebooks, Windows and Mac, requiring code only to be written once.
Our implementation of WebRTC in packaged apps delivers a more seamless and powerful WebRTC experience to our users. Once installed, the user never has to click ‘allow’ again to enable a WebRTC connection to UberConference. Another benefit stems from packaged apps’ native-app-like capabilities. As an example, if you have a conference call starting, we can notify you on your desktop whether or not you have the browser open, and you can see or join the conference directly from the app.
If you are going to be at Google I/O, make sure to stop by and see us.
by Nick Foster, Senior Software Engineer
So, what is Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC), anyway? The idea isn’t new but people who use voice and video conferencing are beginning to hear it every day. At UberConference we use it to make it easy to join conference calls over the Internet from anywhere.
WebRTC allows real-time voice, video, and data to stream between two people using a web browser. There’s no need for plugins or third-party software, only the latest Chrome or Firefox.
Until recently, web browsers were where you did pretty much everything except conferencing - web surfing, email, watching videos. However, the biggest disadvantage of the web browser was that it was lousy at two-way voice and video calls.
That kind of real-time communication had been challenging for companies for many years because the voice and video compression-decompression algorithms (called codecs) were really expensive. Only a few companies owned them, and they charged pricey licensing fees. In addition, browsers could only request data or send it upon request, not send and receive it in real time, as video chat requires.
To understand this, consider that browsers have been evolving ever since their creation to allow us to do more and more on the web. Plugins were introduced in the mid-late ’90s, which allowed developers to play videos with flash, facilitating a move toward the beginning of video communication. Then, in 2004, the browser language HTML5 developed the <audio> and <video> tags to allow this multimedia content to live in your browser without the need of a plugin. However, real time communication (RTC) remained a challenge because browsers lacked a method to send and receive data in real time, and often the stumbling block were the expensive codecs used to interpret the media communications between users.
For WebRTC to be truly effective, everyone needed access to the high quality codecs. In 2010 Google took on the challenge and purchased two companies: GIPS and On2. This turned the VoIP market on its head.
Here’s why: GIPS was a leading provider of VoIP codecs, On2 had a video codec that rivaled the H.26 standard. And Google open sourced them both, giving the RTC industry a giant push forward.
That’s why WebRTC has been a big deal for UberConference and for all Internet users. It lets them conference in real-time without having to mess around with applications or phones or leave their web browser.
This is a huge benefit for emerging companies, who, ten years ago, would have paid significantly higher costs for hardware and services to set everything up. They can now build their companies with a much lighter - and cheaper- footprint. Now that’s something to call your CEO about.
It’s always a pleasure to speak at local events hosted by prestigious organizations such as Silicon Valley Bank, so we were pleased when Craig was invited to present at their 2013 CEO Summit on the topic: BE BOLD. Craig’s own experiences at Dialpad, Yahoo, GrandCentral and Google certainly informed his presentation but he reached further back in history to examples that resonate with us today from the likes of Helen Keller and Teddy Roosevelt.
Demoing your startup’s new product without PowerPoint is tough. Competing for an award judged by two very experienced CEOs and a highly respected VC is even tougher.
Hosted by former TechCrunch co-editor (now current DEMO Conference Exec Producer) Erick Schoenfeld, the inaugural DEMO Mobile in San Francisco had UberConference CEO Craig Walker sitting with Garrett Camp, Founder & Chairman of Uber and StumbleUpon and Chi-Hua Chien, General Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. (Yes, the UberConference team are Über users - we get asked that one a lot.)
This year’s mobile-and-productivity class included FieldLens, Tylr Mobile, TouchMail, and Altia Systems, who walked away with a DEMOGod award. UberConference CEO Craig Walker actually launched his previous company GrandCentral (today known as Google Voice) at the Demo Conference in 2006.
We’re pretty big fans of mobile here at Firespotter - so far we’ve released 4 mobile apps in the last 18 months. So, when a great mobile conference like the sold-out D:Dive Into Mobile comes up, we had to be there. Where else can you get a line on where mobile technologies are going and hear from all of the movers and shakers in mobile in a jam-packed 2 days?
Hosted by Bay Area journalists Ina Fried and Liz Gannes, in collaboration with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, D: Dive Into Mobile gave a bird’s-eye view of many of the emergent issues in the mobile space. Here are five big ones that stood out at the conference.
Facebook’s new CTO Mike Schroepfer spoke to Facebook’s biggest mobile challenge - following the migration of his company’s billion-plus users from the Web to mobile.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt gave the low-down Google’s wide-ranging mobile efforts - from Android to Chrome, Admob to YouTube. In a separate talk, Google’s Jason Spero and Millennial Media’s Mollie Spilman went over the importance of tracking user behavior for mobile ads. Spero noted that mobile refers more to a specific context, rather than a use case.
Waze CEO Noam Bardin talked about his company’s subtle advantage over Google - they’ve got 44 million users and 70,000 volunteer map editors. So far, they’ve validated a billion and a half kilometers (about 932 million miles) of roads. Note: One of Craig’s favorite apps!
Intel’s Mike Bell and Microsoft’s Terry Myerson - two brands not known for robust mobile presence - gave separate talks to argue why their company shouldn’t be counted out in the transition to the golden age of mobile strategies.
Movile CEO Fabricio Bloisi Rocha explained how the lower penetration of smartphones into Latin America market will be turned around in coming years by an increase Wi-Fi connections and cheaper prices.
Thanks again to D: All Things Digital founders Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher for hosting such an awesome conference. To stay on top of all of their mobile coverage, go here, and here’s the coverage of the entire conference.
Spencer Ante, Andrea Roesch, Craig Walker
by Susan Metz, Director of Marketing, LTech, Google Apps Premier Enterprise Partner
Learn how to add UberConference lines as “resources” in Google Calendar to quickly add UberConference meeting information to Google Calendar events.
At LTech we email, schedule, and manage our documents exclusively in the Google Apps Cloud.
As a Premier Google Apps Reseller and Amazon Consulting Partner, we’re always looking to find ways for our clients to take advantage of cloud-based business tools to help them streamline all aspects of their business.
UberConference was a natural fit for us. It allowed us to replace our old conference bridge service with a cloud-based service that was integrated with Google Apps.
Since we do all of our scheduling through Google Calendar, we decided to add our UberConference lines as “resources” in Google Apps. By doing this, we were able to “book” the UberConference line in Google Calendar through the “Book a Room” feature. The UberConference dial-in number and URL was then automatically inserted into the Google Calendar invite and sent to our customers.
The setup process only took about twenty minutes. Here’s how we did it:
We created a spreadsheet with a row for each of our team member’s UberConference phone numbers, PINs and custom URLs.
We logged into our Google Apps control panel with Administrator access and added each conference line as a “resource” to Google Calendar. You can learn more about adding resources to Google Calendar by following this link. A Google Calendar resource is anything you can schedule that isn’t an event, like a car, a computer or a bridge line.
We then changed the sharing settings for each resource to “see all event details” so that the bridge lines could be viewed and booked by all LTech team members.
When an employee is hired or terminated, we simply add or remove their bridge line resource from Google Calendar.
Now, when we need to schedule a meeting with UberConference, we simply click “Rooms,etc.” in the calendar event and click Add but our personal UberConference bridge line.
This method allows us to quickly schedule and share UberConference meeting information more efficiently because we can do it all from the Google Calendar interface.
Our guests then receive a calendar invitation with the meeting URL and phone line. When it’s time to start the meeting, we log into UberConference and click “New Conference” to send out the invites again, but guests can also just dial in with the open PIN without the conference being created beforehand.
Please tweet us at @ltech if you have a question about booking UberConference resources.
You can learn more about LTech and our services at Ltech.com or by following us at @ltech.
Here is a video of how it works:
Ever wanted to dance all night with the team from your favorite visual conference call service? Want to meet hundreds of cool people from the Bay Area startup scene, while overlooking a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay?
Next Friday night at 8pm, it’s all happening at One Ferry Plaza, on the San Francisco waterfront. And we’re bringing a ton of goodies (American Apparel t-shirts and bottle openers) to the party.
When UberConference received the call from our buddy Vasil Asarov, at StartupMonthly and The Online Marketing Institute, we knew this was a party we didn’t want to miss.
Here’s the “agenda” for the evening:
We’re giving a $10 UberConference gift card - a promo code good for one free month of UberConference Pro - to every single person who comes to the event, and you can get a cool 30% discount on your ticket, just use the discount code UC30.
The $20 ticket price is cut down to $14 - after your discount code, and every attendee will receive the $10 gift card by email.
At UberConference we strive to create the best conferencing calling experience ever, and that extends even to the smaller details like the hold music people hear when waiting for a conference call to begin. Hold music may seem more like a necessary evil than an area for innovation, but we view it as another opportunity for us to touch our users in a positive way, and maybe even make their day a little better.
The challenge with any filler music is that everyone has different tastes, so some sort of “elevator music” is usually chosen for these types of waiting-for-a-call scenarios. While this “easy listening” music is intended to be less annoying, the fact that it is heard so often actually makes it more annoying, in some cases. Combine this with the building frustration a person feels when having to wait for others to join a call, and you are left with a pretty sub-optimal user experience.
So how do you choose a default hold music if there isn’t a great option already out there? In UberConference’s case we decided to write our own. Before we launched our co-founder and Head of Design, Alex Cornell, wrote and performed a whole new song, titled “I’m on Hold”, which you can find on SoundCloud. The song has friendly, country sound with a nice little rhythm, and the lyrics have some fun with the actual experience of being on hold and the thoughts that go through people’s heads as they are waiting. Basically it is a little joke intended to lighten up the mood of a person in the common and not-so-fun situation of waiting on others.
Not a week has gone by since we launched UberConference about a year ago where we don’t see tweets on how much people like the custom hold music. It has turned out to be one of the most popularly tweeted features, and it makes us smile to see these. Thanks to all our users that have taken the time to give it a shout out. As power users of UberConference ourselves, we obviously have heard the song quite a bit, but as we continue to talk to new people on our calls that are experiencing UberConference for the first time, we often hear positive comments on the hold music and are able to appreciate the joke again from a new user’s perspective. It also softens the tension some in cases when we unfortunately are a little late to calls and people have to hear the hold music at all.
We do realize though that different people have different senses of humor and that jokes get old faster for some people than others. One of our first premium features we added back in September of last year was the ability to upload any custom hold music. We now have a new feature for all users to choose between a few default tracks of hold music. The new tracks are called Wonderblues, Light Touch, and Blue. Just go to your profile and select the hold music option you prefer, and you can even have them randomly shuffled if you want to mix it up a little. Check them out and let us know what you think.
It was awesome to sponsor the Founder Showcase, one of the top Silicon Valley startup events. That’s where UberConference was last night, on Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Campus down in Mountain View, CA.
The Founder Showcase began in 2009 as a small quarterly event but now has grown into a 500+ person extravaganza regularly attended by entrepreneurs, investors, and journalists. Startup founders can apply online to pitch at the next showcase in June.
This quarter’s Showcase taught startup attendees “The Future of Funding,” featuring smart, punchy talks by Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz (one of the companies that funded UberConference), and Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures, on where venture funding has been, since the late ‘80s, and where it’s going.
As a growing startup ourselves, we like to support events like the Founder Showcase. We understand the difficulty it takes to manage and grow a business. That’s why we created UberConference: to help make it easier for communicate with your team, customers, and partners to get things done. It’s a great fit for startups who want a communication tool that provides a high quality experience while saving them money.
If you’re a startup that missed the event, you can use the promo code “showcase” (no quotes) to upgrade your account to Uberconference Pro - limit one code per startup.