Monday, June 30th, 2014 .

IMG_5556

“I will only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster to my customers, so they may enjoy coffee at its peak of flavor. I will only use the finest, most delicious, and responsibly sourced beans.” -James Freeman, Blue Bottle CEO

Blue Bottle has grown into a network of cafes, wholesale partners, an espresso cart, and some vintage German coffee roasters. With more than 300 employees and locations in The Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York City and now, Tokyo, the growing business needed a seamless way to stay connected.

Blue Bottle’s CFO, David Bowman discovered UberConference when he dialed into his first call without a PIN number–he’s been a loyal user ever since. Bowman not only handles the company’s finances, but also has some responsibility for IT (what software the com- pany invests in and services it) as well as managing the company’s eCommerce site.

UberConference Makes Acquisitions Easier

UberConference made things especially easy for the Blue Bottle team during the acquisitions of both Tonx and Handsome Coffee in Los Angeles. Bowman was constantly on the phone with lawyers on the other side going back and forth with paperwork. He found these calls were effective and specific features of UberConference had a strong advantage over his previous service, freeconferencecall.com. There were two features of UberConference that Bowman clearly preferred up front.

First, was that UberConference gave a much more professional impression. “Tactically, I hated hearing, ‘Thank you for calling freeconferencecall.com,’” he said. “Secondly, I like the ease of dialing in with UberConference–no long PIN code to remember. The annoyance of dialing in was eliminated, and that’s actually a huge deal for us.”

UberConference Helps Connect a Spread Out Team

With a geographically spread out staff, much of David’s week involves checking in over conference calls. Each major Blue Bottle department has an UberConference line, and UberConference provides a quick way for everyone to dial into meetings. Keeping connected from The Bay Area to Tokyo can be a challenge, but UberConference has elim- inated that communication barrier.

“I love using UberConference with Google Hangouts–the controls in the sidebar are useful when monitoring large calls. There have been a couple of times where our founder has led a call to announce something, and in that case there are 50-80 people joining. When that happens, I’m able to look over everyone and mute those who need to be muted to keep the call running smoothly.”

Other factors Bowman cited were UberConference’s reasonable pricing, the integrations with Google Apps, and the thoughtfulness behind its user experience. “It’s a really solid product,” he concluded.

Read more about Blue Bottle Coffee and our other customer profiles, here.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 .

We do our best to listen to feedback from our customers, and we’ve been hearing quite a few requests to give UberConference organizers the ability to choose who receives the summary emails sent after each conference call.

We originally implemented this feature to give meetings more context. The summary emails contain links to any shared documents or recordings, correlating with meeting notes for reference. They also include interesting stats, like who was there and who talked the most and the least.

If UberConference Pro and Business organizers would rather not have the email summaries sent to every participant after the conference ends, they now have the ability to manage that in their settings.

To specify who should receive the conference summaries, go to uberconference.com/settings (when logged in), and scroll all the way down to the “Notification Preferences” section. Under “Call Summary,” you will see the option to disable or enable the conference call summary for participants or for yourself. Don’t forget to click on the “Save Changes” button on the bottom of the page.

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 1.59.14 PM

 

We’re continuously trying to make Business features more robust for our customers, and disabling call summary emails is just one of the many ways you can customize your conference calls with UberConference Business. Business users also get advanced features like custom hold music, up to 100 callers, dial out to add guests to call, local conference phone numbers, and more.

UberConference Free users still maintain control over the summary emails for themselves.

Follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop on all things UberConference! @uberconference

Friday, March 29th, 2013 .

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.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 .

Brian Peterson is VP of Product Engineering and co-founder at Switch Communications, specializing in web development, cloud services and databases. Before Switch Communications, Brian was at Google for eight years, where he spent most of his time working on the Google Voice team and leading the transition of GrandCentral’s technology onto Google’s infrastructure.  

Brian Peterson and John Rector, co-founders of Switch Communications

We built both UberConference and Switch.co on Google Cloud Platform using WebRTC. Our goal from the beginning was to bring innovation to some of the obvious problems with conference calls and business phone systems, making them relevant and useful again. We wanted to develop our products for the way we work today — faster, more mobile, and across multiple platforms and devices. WebRTC helped us do that.

WebRTC is a free, open project that enables web browsers (right now, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera) with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities.

Why is that cool?

It’s cool because it’s a way to get very high-quality, secure VoIP to your browser (for free), without having to install any extra plug-in.

WebRTC uses the Opus Codec, which offers the best audio experience out there. Not only does it give your Switch.co and UberConference calls HD audio, but it also handles dynamic network conditions by adjusting to the available bandwith wherever you are.

UberConference was one of the earliest WebRTC adopters, launching at Google I/O in 2013 — just one week after Google released it. With WebRTC implemented into UberConference, our users can connect to their calls in real-time without having to leave their browsers and make international calls through the browser at no cost.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 12.25.34 PM (2)

For similar reasons, Switch.co uses WebRTC for voice communication through your desktop. It’s available without any extra software across Windows, Mac, Chromebooks, and even Linux, and because of its cross-platform capabilities, WebRTC allowed us to deploy the Switch.co native app instantaneously across all platforms, instead of having to build separately for each one. It allows for a more streamlined experience for developers, but also lets us roll out the app faster for users on any platform.

Because Switch.co is a Chrome web app, WebRTC is already built in and users only need to have Chrome to use it. Just like with UberConference, it gives Switch.co users HD audio and lets them call internationally for free when making and answering calls from the desktop.

switch_screenshot_take_call-03

WebRTC is game changing, and it’s paving the way for whole new types of web applications like Switch.co and UberConference. We do our best to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to advancing the quality and accessibility of our products, and as the WebRTC standard becomes available in more browsers, we plan to build accordingly.

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 .

unnamedLinda Beltran is UberConference’s very own Customer Support Representative. She is an asset to our entire company and her spunk and personality is legendary to our customers and team. Last week, Linda posted a video of her son (also a big personality) and it went viral.

 

Q: Please introduce yourself to the UberConference blogosphere.

 A. My name is Linda and I am the mother of 3-year-old Matthew and his little brother Kevin (aka PaPas).

Q: You posted a video last week that’s gone a little viral. Tell us about it.

A. Like all my other videos, I initially posted this one to share with friends and family. Well, they happened to share it, and the people they shared it with shared it, and so on.  I’ve always said Mateo is an old soul. The kid definitely keeps us on our toes, and this video depicts him, well, accurately.

If Mateo feels the need and has a valid argument, he will be sure to voice it. He felt he didn’t need to eat dinner since he already had lunch, and that cupcakes were a suitable compromise.

Q: Mateo wanted a cupcake? Throw down the scenario.

A. On this particular night, I went to Gramma’s house to pick him up. Gramma told me he didn’t want to eat his dinner. I let Matthew know that we would not be having a fun night unless he ate his dinner. He found some hidden cupcakes and was on a mission to have them. After a back-and-forth of “Mommy pleassseee can I have them?” and me telling him not until he had dinner, he decided to wait until I wasn’t paying attention to use those cute eyes of his on Gramma, which was not-so-secretly hilarious.

Mommy’s spidey-sense kicked in, I grabbed my phone and thought, “Let’s see where this goes.” Gramma and I had to keep a straight face. The end result was the video. He was unaware the camera was on as I was pretending to ignore him and be busy with the phone.

Q: Why does Mateo call you Linda?

A. This summer we went on a family trip to a theme park.  We came across a lost boy, who could not for the life of him tell us his name or parents’ names. We felt horrible, and as we handed him over to park staff we realized we’d never really told our boys what our names were–they only knew us as Mommy and Daddy. We didn’t want them to ever be in the same situation and not know our names, so we taught them, and they quickly learned. This made Mateo feel a little empowered.

For the most part we are still Mommy and Daddy,  but when he is serious and wants to make sure we are paying attention, we quickly become Linda and Kenneth.

 Q: When is Mateo going to visit the UberConference office?

A. Funny you mention that. Since the video has been out, we’ve been asked by numerous friends and family members if he can stop by their offices, as requested by co-workers who saw the video. They even offered to bake him cupcakes.

Let me check his busy schedule and I will get back to you on that!

Q: If  Mateo was going to be on a conference call, who would it be with?

A. If it were up to mom, Ellen DeGeneres. If we ask Mateo, he could have a pretty serious conversation with Batman, Spiderman AND Superman. Wait, I can’t forget Ironman and the guy with the ice that goes sswwooossshhh. That would be good.

Mateo is quite a tough cookie.

He is, but I want everyone to know that he isn’t disrespectful. In an effort to raise independent young adults, we let our children have a voice. I’m a new parent and I’m learning as much from my kids as they are learning from me. The arguing started way before Mateo could talk–he would let us know he didn’t like certain shoes or clothes with his baby blabber. I love seeing a little more of their personalities as they grow. Mateo has his own spunk and is becoming his own little person. I love that about him. The boys know when mom is serious and when they can engage in some healthy debate. In an effort to raise my kids with a voice, I pick my battles and sometimes let them feel like they’ve won…or at least give them the chance to try. 🙂