Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 .

We’ve heard a lot of requests from developers who are interested in integrating with UberConference, and we’re excited to announce that the UberConference API is finally available in a closed beta!

There are so many awesome productivity tools out there, and integrating them with quick and simple UberConference conference calls can make our workdays that much more efficient. We’re officially beginning to accept API integration requests, starting with our first integration with Kato.im.

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Kato.im is a powerful, free chat and messaging app designed for business. Kato allows users to chat, share files and communicate across internal and external teams. While Kato.im provides fast team communication, sometimes conversations need to be taken from a chat room to a conference call.

To solve this, Kato.im built UberConference into the product so users can instantly connect to a conference call, share their screen, or collaborate on files directly from their chat room. With this integration, two awesome products have come together for an integrated team communication experience.

Here’s how it works:

katoimuberconferenceAfter starting the conference, a message similar to this one will appear in the room:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 10.55.24 AM

Clicking on the link in the message or dialing the number will guide everyone directly to the conference.

 

If you’d like to get access and build an UberConference integration, we’d love to hear from you! You can email us at feedback@firespotter.com with your integration idea and company details.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 .

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” –Aristotle, “The Politics”

When you sit down and think about it, many of the greatest accomplishments of the human race are collaborative efforts. The cathedrals of medieval France. MGM musicals like “Singing in the Rain” or “Royal Wedding”. Democracy. The Renaissance. A double double cheeseburger with fries from In ‘N Out Burger.

These are things that could only have been created by a group effort – human beings working together.

Why?  Because we are, as Aristotle observed more than 2,300 years ago, social animals. We live a common life together.

So if we live a common life together and are, at heart, social animals; why do so many teleconferences not work? What, exactly, causes them to be disappointing? I think I can confidently state that it is not because we are either beasts nor gods.

What causes many teleconferences to fail is a combination of inefficient technology and basic human politeness. These are what I call “the pain points of teleconferencing.” And they are solvable problems.

1. Set an agenda. Stick to it.

Unless the teleconference is between NFL owners, nobody gets to talk about the Super Bowl.

Before your next teleconference, send out an agenda to everyone. These are the items we will be discussing, and this is the order in which we’ll be discussing them. People are busy, and while your teleconference may in fact be the most important part of their work day, it is not the only part of their work day. Nothing kills a teleconference quicker than desultory talk about the weather, the latest flu outbreak or last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. We all have other things to do today besides chit-chat right now. Stay on point, stick to the agenda, finish the call.

2. People are going to arrive late. Deal with it.

It’s just going to happen: people are going to show up late. They’ll have a million good reasons. We don’t need to hear them. We also don’t need to recap what’s been discussed already.

Think of it this way: somebody shows up late to Mass. The priest doesn’t stop the proceedings, introduce everyone, and then recap what’s happened so far. No. If you show up late, you check where in the liturgy (agenda) we are, listen in and catch up on your own.

There’s no reason a teleconference can’t operate that way either.

3. Use technology that works.

Teleconferencing technology should do the following:

— allow automatic sharing of documents during the call

— visual identification of who is speaking and participating

— late entrants can join without interrupting — or stopping — the call

If your teleconferencing system can’t do these things, your calls are going to be less effective, more painful for the callers, and, ultimately less collaborative.

We’re human beings. We’re social animals. We’re working on a problem together. Any technology you are using that disrupts collaborative work is anti-social and goes counter to who we are in our essence.

Friday, April 25th, 2014 .

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Congratulations to CEO and co-founder Craig Walker who will be receiving the 2014 Georgetown Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Outstanding Alumni Entrepreneur. Craig was chosen by the board of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance for his level of innovation and service to the entrepreneurial community, demonstration of positive impact on business, and other qualities of an entrepreneur and Georgetown graduate. The award will be given as part of Entreprelooza on Georgetown’s campus.

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 .

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We’re huge fans of WebRTC at Switch Communications–it’s used in both of our products.  One reason we love it (among many) is for the high-quality audio it provides for our customers. Using the Opus codec to transmit sound, and in our case — voice, over the Internet, WebRTC gives both Switch.co and UberConference crystal clear audio with very little delay.

In the spirit of the WebRTC Conference happening in San Jose this week, today’s post will cover what the Opus codec actually is and why we’re excited to be able to use it in our web communication products.

 

What is the Opus codec?

A codec is what translates sounds into digital data and carries it across the network to make voice over IP work. The Opus codec, in particular, is a totally open, free, and versatile audio codec, designed for speech and music transmission over the Internet. Compared to other codecs out there, Opus has the ability to adapt to available bandwidth for highest possible quality audio with low delay. Developers can use it under liberal, royalty-free licenses, making it accessible at little to no cost and easy to implement into other internet applications.

 

What Opus does for Switch.co and UberConference

When building Switch.co and UberConference, our priority was to improve the current state of business phone calls and create the best possible experience for our users. Part of this meant implementing WebRTC into our products for rich sound and high-quality calls through the browser. Opus gives us the opportunity to communicate over the Internet in real-time with superior quality, regardless of the type of network link our customers are using. We no longer need to know whether the customer’s network will support wideband audio or only narrow band. The Opus codec will determine the optimal bandwidth and fidelity settings based on the network path and continually adjust in real time. This flexibility makes it easy for us to still have high-quality business calls away from our desk and on our personal devices.
Going to the WebRTC Conference and Expo this week? Check out our CEO Craig Walker’s keynote on how WebRTC opens doors for new capabilities and offers on Thursday at 10am.