First look: Fuze Meeting extends remote presentation mojo to iPad
Modern meetings are a marvel. With strong competition in the remote presentation/conferencing product space, we now have plenty of capable and feature-rich platforms that offer affordable (sometimes free) remote meetings, most with a good Mac compatibility story to tell. The catch, of course, is that all these technologies depend on Java, Flash/AIR or a bespoke browser plugin to deliver the goods -- meaning that the iPad and iPhone are largely left out of the fun.
Given the demand, it's clear why the Adobe Connect iPhone client and WebEx player for iPad deliver meeting attendance options for iDevices; who wouldn't want to attend a web meeting from the beach? Still, if you want to host a meeting from your iPad and show off the content stored there or in the cloud, there
hasn't been a solid option [Commenters noted Mighty Meeting, which includes straightforward PPT sharing from the iPad to remote or local displays]. Now, with the introduction of Fuze Meeting HD for the iPad, there is a new contender.
Read on for the video demo & more features.
Since 4.2 and multitasking/app switching aren't live on the iPad yet, the Fuze developers got sneaky with their Dropbox interoperability feature. You can exit the Fuze app, open up Dropbox on your iPad, and then open a compatible file with the Fuze app's 'Open With' support. The Fuze app reopens, uploads the file to the cloud, then automatically rejoins your meeting and shares the content. It takes a few moments, but it's pretty slick; eventually, this same integration will leverage multitasking and possibly server-side content sharing, so it will get much faster.
You can promote other participants to presenters during a meeting, so if they're connected from their computers they can share screens and local content as well. Integrated VoIP means that you don't need to make a separate phone call to join your conference bridge; you can even use the iPad's built-in microphone in full duplex mode, if you like, and skip the headphones. The basic free Fuze account supports 2-attendee meetings, but signups through October 15 will get temporary 10-attendee accounts to put the service through its paces. Paid accounts start with a US$9.99 'day pass' or a $29 monthly account that allows 25 meeting participants. In-app purchasing is available to upgrade an account on the fly.
With an app like this, the fact that it works at all as advertised is remarkable; the fact that it works smoothly, quickly and easily is fantastic. I tested VoIP, sharing local and cloud content, movie playback; all worked great, including an HD clip that played in tight sync on both ends of the meeting. Keynote compatibility is still in beta, but it worked well (the service converts the files to a cued movie); Mac and PC clients saw exactly what you'd expect them to see.
If your day includes giving or attending remote presentations, and you haven't yet tried Fuze, this is the time. Fuze Meeting HD delivers on the promise of meeting hosting from the iPad in a big way, and it's a substantial challenge to the established players like WebEx and GoToMeeting.
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