Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 .

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.

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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.

To solve the media transmission problem, the WebRTC collation created a set of open protocols for browsers to expose to developers. As browsers adopt this standard and implement them, developers can quickly write RTC applications with a few lines of JavaScript code.

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.

Monday, June 30th, 2014 .

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“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.

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 .

Now you can share files from your computer within an UberConference call thanks to the new Box View, even if you don’t have a Box account.

Take any PDF or Microsoft Office file from your computer, click “share file,” choose “computer” and it will appear right in your UberConference window. The files are also sent out at the end of the call in the UberConference call summaries for easy reference.

So simple.

Box View does the hard work of transforming popular office documents and other files into HTML, so they can be displayed in a browser for UberConference users to share and discuss during their meetings. The Box View API powers the fastest, most elegant content viewing experience on the web and on mobile.

The UberConference team is at the first annual BoxDev Conference in San Francisco today to support the Box platform and their Box View API announcement. We were highlighted during the Opening Box keynote by Ryan Damico, Director of Platform at Box, as “a really interesting use case that shows how you’re taking an already great service and adding even more value on top of it.”

Over 1,000 developers and entrepreneurs attend BoxDev for exciting platform product launches, deep-dive technical sessions and thought-leadership sessions on building for the enterprise.

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Friday, February 21st, 2014 .

I have eight (8) children, now mostly grown. Two live in New York City — Brooklyn, to be exact — one lives in Washington, D.C., one lives and works on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota, one goes to college in Minnesota and another is in South Africa, and my two youngest live in Germany. I live in Berkeley, CA. The nine of us regularly do Skype Group Calls, and there is nothing I love more than seeing all eight of them in a group call. Take my word for it, they are all incredibly beautiful-looking children.That pretty much covers my need for video calling. The rest of you? I don’t really want to look at you when we talk on the phone. Nothing personal… oh, okay, it is something personal. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s just that, well, I’d prefer imagining how you look.

And here’s how I picture you: you’re looking great. Your hair is perfect and you’re dressed in a casual yet elegant manner that bespeaks the quality of you as a person.In addition, if I’m going to talk to you on the phone, I kinda don’t want to spend anytime making sure I look good. I just want to sound good. I want you to imagine me the way I’m imagining you. I want to sound smart and competent and brilliant and insightful and piercing in my analysis, or — depending on the situation — maybe a little sexy. Even if I’m wearing that ratty University of New Mexico Football sweatshirt with holes in the armpits that I got at a thrift store eight years ago, and my hair is a mess, and I haven’t showered since Tuesday. You don’t need to see that. No one needs to see that. Frankly, it’s upsetting enough to me that I look like this, and I certainly don’t want to inflict it on you.

A couple of months ago, I did a video call with my writing partner on a film project. We had never met, but had corresponded and done a lot of work together via email and Google Docs, and I felt completely comfortable with him as a partner. Then we did the Skype video call. His hair was a mess and his nose was bright red from a cold… and he was lying in bed! To be honest, that killed it for me. It felt as if I were lying in bed with him. And he was sick! I did not want to be lying in bed with a sick guy talking about the second act break. I didn’t.

“Can we continue this call tomorrow?” I asked.

“Why?” he said.

“You’re sick and in bed,” I said. “And I kinda feel like I’m in bed with you right now and I might catch what you have..” And so we ended what had been up to that point a productive call.

Look, I don’t want to come across as Mr. Fussbudget Himself, Felix Unger, and certainly the technology exists to make video conference calling simple and convenient.

But don’t you sometimes wish you were just doing an audio-only conference call? That way, all of us could be sitting in our PJs at home, and we could all be imagining that everyone else looks as good as they sound. These are smart and brilliant and handsome people I’m working with, you can think to yourself, without reality — messy hair and ratty t-shirts and dingy living rooms — ruining it for everyone.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 .

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UberConference is proud to be offered as a part of Sprint’s Google Apps for Work package. Now, Sprint business customers can optimize their Google Apps experience with robust conferencing features offered by UberConference. This builds on Sprint’s mobile-centric solution of Google Apps for Work, which is part of the as-a-service portfolio, OfficeFuelTM from Sprint Business.

“Sprint is committed to building a comprehensive mobile-centric Google Apps for Work offer and adding UberConference to our portfolio of value-added services helps us achieve that goal,” said Mike Fitz, vice president of business solution commercialization, Sprint Business. “Businesses will benefit from our combination of aggressive wireless pricing plans and robust cloud-based collaboration tools that help businesses remove obstacles for their employees and encourage them to work better together.”

Sprint offers a robust package in their Google Apps for Work suite. In addition to the great conferencing features offered by UberConference, Sprint for Business users get Carefree Cloud to help companies roll out these new products seamlessly within their company. Sprint for Business customers get 24/7 admins and end user support for both Google Apps for Work and UberConference.

In addition to their strong mobile assistance program, Sprint includes single sign-on and domain services. We look forward to hearing how the tools offered by UberConference and Sprint help make your meetings more productive.

Be sure to let us know how you’re using @UberConference in conjunction with @Sprint!