First Take: LoopUp

Ring2 was a conference call tool for mobile devices. It's recently changed its name to LoopUp, and added support for remote meetings as well as conference calls.

Ring2 was a conference call tool for mobile devices. It's recently changed its name to LoopUp, and added support for remote meetings as well as conference calls.

Web meetings sounded like a good idea — a way of presenting to people from your desk, without having to leave the office. It was cleaner, and greener. But web meetings have ended up as shelfware, licences bought and not used, or worse still, bought and just used for conference calls, missing out on delivering content to participants. Where content is shared, it's often in parallel with a traditional conference call so participants can't take advantage of the additional features of a web meeting.

Managing conferences from a smartphone

LoopUp builds on the company's earlier conference call product, turning it into a tool for building and sharing remote meetings, with a simple way of making a conference call into a web conference. The company provides mobile tools for most common enterprise smartphones (BlackBerry, iPhone and Android), with a web portal and an Outlook ribbon plugin to handle scheduling. The smartphone tool can help solve common annoyances with conference calls, helping schedule access by delivering dial-in details and making it easy to indicate if you're going to be late. There's also improved visibility, so you can see who has joined and who is speaking, as well as improved control, adding new participants and remotely muting devices when necessary. It's an approach that LoopUp says makes the web conference aspects of the tool more discoverable.

Notification popup as a participant joins

A conference starts in LoopUp's scheduling tools, where you create and share invites with built-in join details. Those messages will guide participants through connecting to a call with clear orange buttons. As soon as someone dials in to a call you'll get an alert on your phone, showing you just who has joined. There's no need to worry about access codes, as the conference can dial out and bring participants in. You can use the UI to mute participants, and to remove disruptive or unwanted attendees.

LoopUp running on a BlackBerry

In the LoopUp web portal you'll see a big orange "share my screen" button. As you reach the point in a meeting that you want to share a screen, you can just click it, choose an area to share and it's shared to all logged in users (as long as they are logged into the LoopUp web application). Image streaming is via Flash — so you won't be able to stream content to iPad.

The LoopUp web portal, during a conference

LoopUp is focusing on the enterprise market for this initial release, with a pricing model based on call minutes (though there is an option for per-seat subscriptions). Calls are priced per minute, for all the users on a call, with rates that are competitive with traditional teleconferencing services and bridges.

If you're not sure about the costs involved with other enterprise-grade services, then LoopUp is well-worth considering. It's quick and easy to use, with a good range of basic web-conferencing services wrapped around a powerful voice conference package.

Simon Bisson


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