Web & communication software

FuzeMeeting app turns iPad into videoconferencing host

FuzeBox has just released a new iPad app that promises to turn that tablet into a powerful videoconferencing machine.

FuzeMeeting ( ) is just one of several Web services—including Webex ( ), GoToMeeting ( ), and others—that enable you to participate in online meetings, via phone or video, from your Mac.

You’ve been able to participate in Fuze meetings from an iPad before, using iOS clients and the tablet’s built-in camera and microphone. But those clients have been hobbled compared to their OS X counterparts. This new Fuze Meeting HD app for the iPad narrows the gap considerably.

As before, you can initiate or join videoconference meetings from the iPad. But now those meetings can include people who are using conferencing equipment from a variety of vendors, including Polycom, Tandberg, and LifeSize. Those dedicated videoconferencing systems are notoriously incompatible with one another; you’ve typically needed big, expensive hardware in your conference room to make them work together.

But Fuze has a technology it calls Telepresence Connect, which the company says moves the processing required to make those systems understand one another to the cloud. That’s how the company can enable an iPad to communicate with all of them.

In addition to that cross-compatibility, Fuze Meeting HD app adds the ability to collaboratively annotate documents from the iPad. (You must first upload those documents to the company’s servers; better to have them there than to host them on your iPad or a Mac, which would slow things down considerably.) The FuzeMeeting service does a particularly good job of sharing graphics: The company credits a proprietary rendering engine for keeping images crisp and clear, even when you zoom in dramatically.

The new app also includes a clever, touch-based laser pointer-like cursor, which allows you to direct participants’ attention to different parts of shared documents. (Nice touch: The cursor is slight offset from where the tip of your finger is on the screen, so you can see it, too.) From the iPad app, you can also opt to record meetings; those recordings are available for listening or download within minutes of a meeting’s conclusion. In the previous version, you needed to use Skype if you wanted to participate via VoIP; the new app has a VoIP client built-in.

The updated Fuze Meeting HD iPad client is available as a free download from the App Store. But to use it, you’ll need a FuzeMeeting account. A Personal one costs $30 a month and allows you to hold meetings with up to 25 participants and 2GB of online storage for documents. A $50 Plus account ups the participants to 45 and the storage to 10GB; you also get unlimited meeting recordings. For $70 a month, you can move up to a Pro account, which allows for 100 participants and provides unlimited online storage and recording.

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