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Amazon Chime (chime.aws)
573 points by runesoerensen 163 days ago | hide | past | web | 326 comments | favorite



The first (and personally the only) requirement I have with any chat system is that it should _not_ modify the text I enter in any way - especially if I am pasting something.

Sometimes I have to paste a line or two of code, or a few lines of a stack trace. Sometimes I have to paste a string which contains some particular set of characters. Microsoft Lync absolutely destroys the pasted text. It subtly converts the double quotes into some unicode nonsense. Then it converts some common character sets into smilies. When you copy text from Lync it is almost always guaranteed to be different from what what entered originally. God, I hate Lync with a passion.


It's like Slack's "smart" quotes feature that mangles your ascii quotes out of the box! So frustrating!


If you are on OSX, that is a feature of OSX, not Slack. You can turn it off in Keyboard settings IIRC.


Thank you! I really appreciate the clarity as I haven't seen this "Edit -> Substitutions" menu before. I have shared this learning with my friends.

If I were a developer of Slack, I would be very tempted to disable that OS functionality (similar to how Sublime Text does not seem to utilize this OS feature).


Ugh, please don't. The fact that Chrome ignores the fact that I have certain OS specific keyboard settings is infuriating.

Turn it off at the OS level if you don't want it. Don't make a decision that makes everyone else who uses the OS frustrated because functionality only exists in a subset of applications.


Agreed. I want more apps adhering to local conventions and generally being good citizens of the platform they run on, not less. It's so annoying when an application decides it knows better than my global system settings, especially when there's no way to change the behavior in question.


Also, this is in the Keyboard pane of System Preferences (where you probably want to make some system-wide changes to defaults so you don’t have to fiddle with the Edit menu in every application).


Thank you so much for this. I actually couldn't find it the first time through so I documented the whole flow with screenshots here: http://fuzzyblog.io/blog/osx/2017/02/16/getting-rid-of-smart...


My pet peeve about Slack as of late is -- is turned into a single, long-dash. Even when you're inside ` or ```.

Which leaves me juggling there on my keyboard, trying to delete one, move my cursor and add a second dash before submitting.


That's the OS, too.


On OS X just disable the dumb quotes and dashes:

System Preferences / Keyboard / Text / Use smart quotes and dashes = off


Thanks! I seriously now owe you ~3h of my life, yearly aggregated.


That's called an em-dash and it's done in the OS usually.

Source: I was a teen during the Desktop Publishing craze


I don't know Lync but googling found this...

http://superuser.com/questions/427542/how-can-i-paste-text-w...


Microsoft had a much better chat before:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Comic_Chat


If lync introduced its own font, what would it be? I had no idea this was the genesis of comic sans, but I'm so glad I do now.


Not sure how the heck I am just learning about Comic Chat and thus the creation of Comic Sans


Note that Comic Sans predates Comic Chat.


I'm with you with the Lync-hate. I've had problems with getting simple chat to work - in the middle of a chat session that seems to go well, Lync suddenly informs me some message wasn't delivered. And this happens often enough to be annoying. The web-integration (if you ping someone who is logged into Outlook web, the ping shows up in a popup window) is bad - if someone pings you within a gap of a few minutes, the original pop-up isn't re-used. There is a new pop-up, with no history. After using gmail chat, this feels regressive. And yes, there is the copy paste issue you mention. The screen-sharing is not robust - we've had so many sessions crash that we've moved to WebEx.

That the simple chat use-cases don't work well is, frankly, confounding to me.


Few years ago I've used few lines of code that I've copied from Skype. There was a hidden invisible chracter that was breaking everything, I've lost about 2 hours until I found it through a hex editor (I rewrote the pasted code and wasn't expecting for that character to be there). That character was not a part of the original message, but it was added by Skype.


I'm not sure about Lync but we got into the habit of pasting into a text file and attaching that when using Skype to send code / log snippets. Agreed that it is a major inconvenience at times.


Lync is by far the worst I have experienced.


I liked the part about Chime calling you at the scheduled start of meeting. So simple yet I had never thought of this since my org uses WebEx.

With a smart phone that would pretty well via a push notification or an actual call, but not sure how that would work when you want a join a meeting from a physical meeting room with its own AV system. I'm sure there is a way to get that set up.


Seemed like it was just a mobile join notification in the video similar to Skype for business or WebEx if you are using VoIP. No?

My company used WebEx and I could make it dial me and start up my conference line without having to go through all the regular pin entry stuff. Now we're using Lync (Skype for business) which is similar although tragically buggy. That can also dial me and sends notifications if you hook it up.

The key for these kind of apps is cost and reliability. Seems like they're advertising substantial cost reductions and better quality. If either one is true they'll likely make out really well.


Lync is still buggy? I haven't used it in about two years, but I'd have thought Microsoft would have solved those issues by now.


I must say I've been really disappointed with how often it crashes outright or has major rendering issues during screen sharing. When it works it's really convenient but 20% of meetings with screen share involved seem to have an issue. I really think quality is life or death for these products. If my company weren't a tight Microsoft partner I really doubt we'd be using it.

WebEx wasn't as convenient but at least it worked correctly the vast majority of the time.


> I really think quality is life or death for these products... > If my company weren't a tight Microsoft partner I really doubt we'd be using it.

You answered yourself - no, quality is not life and death (at least not fast death) for this product. :)


Ha you got me there


Lync is shockingly bad. You'd think that after 45 years of sending text to each other over networks this would be a solved problem by now.


Anecdotal, but I use Skype for Business every day without any bugs/issues, as does the rest of my company (~50 people, lots of remote workers + liberal WFH policy).

When there's a rare issue, its usually a headset not working, which is probably more a user or windows problem.


I don't see a lot of audio issues, but tons of problems with screen sharing and video.

My company has about 4000 users in 100+ countries so maybe it's bandwidth/scale in part. i see a lot of stuff like skypefb crashes or doesn't render correctly when you try to screen share, etc especially internationally.

Not 100% certain part of it isn't due to us cheaping out on infrastructure to run it.


Microsoft is not known for promptly fixing bugs.


Absolutely aggreed with this. We still have to pay a 5 to 10% task to get the conference call going.

Chime is the absolute good step in the right direction, however we will need need a layer on top to solve for all conference call systems.

There are three pieces that needs to be figured out to make this work well:

1. How do you deal with (non?) presence? Are you joining from the AV hardware? 2. How do you deal with PSTN? 3. How do you deal with other VoIP solutions out there.

I have a few ideas on this, especially on #2.


I wonder how Chime callback will work with back-back meetings.

ie, I'm in someone's Chime/webex, and I need to join a different one. Also does it seamlessly join multiple connections - one benefit of Webex is that I can start my meeting on the iPhone while leaving a meeting room so that others can hop on, and then have my laptop join later so I can share my screen when I hit my desk.


It can/should tell everyone at the start and tell you specifically when it's time to say bye. Depending on the time of the next meeting you could opt to join that one late... obviously triple booked will never work.


>So simple yet I had never thought of this since my org uses WebEx.

WebEx has (sort of) that capability. There is an option for it to call you when you join a meeting.


This is one of my favorite features. Using computer audio is awful especially on the go and GotoMeeting fails to recognize correctly the code I enter some 20% of the time it seems.


If there is anybody who happens to read this who is responsible for implementing the code that reads the meeting codes, please implement the following changes:

1. Make it so meeting codes are strictly forbidden from having repeating digits, by construction.

2. Make it so that when entering meeting codes, if you think you see repeated digits, consider it just one instance of that digit.

The cell system does not use literal DMTF tones to dial calls; those are played by the phone itself for the user's benefit. If the cell system used DMTF for numeric signalling, we'd all be dialing a lot more wrong numbers. (And we'd all groan when we got a new line with a number with repeated digits in it....) Heck, even on VOIP systems very well connected to the internet, I've had trouble entering 9-12 digit codes without the remote system becoming convinced I'd actually entered a 11-15 digit code. I've gotten a few strange looks before for the way I push the buttons for the codes as rapidly as possible, because, ironically, the human intuition here is exactly backwards; you intuitively think that if the remote system isn't understanding your numbers you should press the number "longer" and harder, but that actually increases the chances of the system hearing multiple instances of that number. You actually want to pound the number buttons as quickly as possible. You still can't deal with the entire number being dropped, but it's still your best chance sometimes.

....

'course, there's probably some patent out that this is in violation of. In which case you are authorized and even encouraged to use this post as part of a defense that this technique is Obvious to One Skilled in the Art. I'm not a telecom engineer.


> not sure how that would work when you want a join a meeting from a physical meeting room with its own AV system. I'm sure there is a way to get that set up.

As someone who works in video conferencing, this is often very broken. The are all kinds of compatibility issues and crappy UX. One of our core selling points is getting room systems into online meetings.


I'm sure there is a way to get that set up.

Hrm, SIP URIs maybe? https://www.wikiwand.com/en/SIP_URI_scheme


uberconference does this


+1 for Uber Conference. Discovered it about a year ago and it's by far my favorite service for work. Just wish they add video calling support soon.


That does seem great for a distributed team with fewer meetings.

As you suggest for a physical meeting or when people have back to back meetings, it would quickly get annoying.

I wonder if this also reflects that calendar apps still suck.


Enterprise conferencing software is so bad and so expensive I'm astonished it took this long for a decent competitor to come in. I'm really surprised Google didn't go all in with making Hangouts a decent competitor. I have a feeling this will make a lot of money.


Most place I've worked, we'd waste anywhere from 5-10 minutes at the beginning of every meeting just trying to get A/V systems and voice conferencing to work.

"Anyone there? Hello? Crap, someone needs to dial in as the host. OK Is everyone dialed in? Good. Oh, wait, Roger can't hear us. Roger, dial back in. OK. Hey, whoever is at the cocktail party, can you go on mute?? Thank you. All right. Who's projecting? The projector is VGA, does anyone have a laptop with VGA? How about a dongle? Great, we can see it now. Can everyone who's remote see the screen sharing? No? OK let's restart the screen sharing program. How about now? Shit, we lost Roger again! Why is the screen 640x480? Damnit, can we just use a different laptop? E-mail the presentation to Diane, we can use her laptop. Did Roger dial back in yet??"

It's almost universally an awful UX.


I worked for over a year writing software for video conferencing systems. It turns out the market has a lot of very strong solutions, but no one is willing to pay for them. The cost of building great video conferencing solutions begins to sky rocket as you reach the higher echelons of quality. The first 75% of good video conferencing is super cheap and easy to make and as you approach the 100% mark things go up exponentially. We found that most people want quality in the 95th percentile but want to pay for the 70th percentile... There will need to be some serious cost reductions, integrations, and improvements on the hardware and video encoding side before enterprise video conferencing meets the quality and price expectations that customers want.

Also important, most video conferencing solutions suffer from the same problems because they all use the same hardware just with a different software layer written on top of it. There are very few providers of video encoding and processing hardware.


So what are the strong solutions? Every high end conference room AV system I've ever seen was total garbage from a UX perspective.


If you are only looking for UX vidyo has a decent product, Microsoft's latest enterprise offering is good, HPs halo now owned by polycom is good, polycom has some cutting edge stuff that is good but very expensive.


But it's important to remember that UX is only about a quarter of the total experience.


Many value UX higher than that, but even for those who don't, 25% is still a whole heck of a lot.


If the UX is so bad that people can't make it work and have to resort to putting someone's laptop at one end of the conference table instead of using the conference room AV, then it doesn't matter how good the other three quarters of your system is.


I simply don't believe this. The cost to develop a system that isn't a horribly complex, unintuitive UX disaster is that much more expensive? We aren't talking about amazing AV quality with lag, we're talking about a system that doesn't take 15 minutes out of a meeting to get working.


There are a lot of reasons for horrible complexity.... 1. There are many ways to roll out a video conferencing system because the hardware is all commodity. Many companies will have their IT department buy all the hardware and try to deploy it using the built in methodologies for connecting conference rooms. This is usually when everyone is given a 16 digit pin number to dial into a room, this causes the dial in nightmares. There are also 3rd parties that will basically sell the same solution as the "custom IT solution" as a service. 2. If you want a decent UI experience you move from snapping commodity hardware together to building a software engineering team, software release pipeline, software updates, and all the stuff that comes along with it. This is usually done by a third party but it still costs more than the commodity solution which it is priced against 3. Once you get a software engineering team involved they have to support the different types of hardware out in production. Most companies have generations of conferencing hardware installed with different configurations throughout the company and do not want to pay for all new hardware. Now your software has to be able to implement screen sharing with 5 different codecs and all those codecs have different bugs and different communication protocols. 4. HP tried to solve this by building their own codecs and forcing all rooms to deploy with the same configurations, but this ended up being the most expensive video conferencing system in the world. It also had the best quality and best reliability.

So yes the cost to building a good ui and less complex system can be way more expensive.


Gimme your specs, I'm curious to know what meeting infrastructure you're using. I can start a vidyo meeting in about 15 seconds.


What you need there then (if you are a Windows shop - unlikely), is Lync or Skype for Business.

Despite it being Microsoft, I've found it to be the most reliable and seamless system for multi-party Audio, Video, and Screen-sharing based meetings - and I've used at some time or another in my career almost all the other big hitters in the corporate virtual-conferencing space.

Combine Lync/SfB with one of those nice multi-camera units[1] that sit in the middle of the meeting table and provide audio tracking of the speaker (the active camera switches to the person speaking) along with always-on 360 degree video as well - and it's the closest you can get to being there.

---

[1] http://www.polycom.co.uk/products-services/products-for-micr...


Our company has used 3 generations of polycom devices and they have all been terrible/unusable. Those units are just an IT nightmare because of how they are set up. The newer ones require two ethernet ports if you want them wired (because reasons?), and then also act as a weird computer joining the meeting. If you are in a room with a device, the room has to be invited and join the meeting, then you have to make sure that polycom device is set up with sound but that everything else in the room is muted or else the electronic Harpies will be unleashed. Then if you want screen sharing and video, since the video is regulated by the polycom but screen is shared on a laptop, you can potentially get the video in video in video recursive fun time which will result in fun buffering.

We have "quick" instructions on how to use these devices and they take up a whole page. Most of the devices are abandoned or just left there gathering dust while we use a simple Jabra speaker puck.

PS - Most of these experiences are with SfB. These devices are somehow worse with Webex.


Barfs.

Sorry, Lync/Skype for Business has been awful for us.

I'll be fair and state that I don't if it is Microsoft's or our tech teams fault.


> What you need there then (if you are a Windows shop - unlikely), is Lync or Skype for Business.

I've used that, and experienced comparable delays of at least 5 minutes of futzing on average to get everything working, with occasional bursts to 10 minutes.


Anecdotal, but our company uses SfB and it has been anything but good. We always have problems in voice calls (which forms the majority of use) - doesn't matter if we're all sitting on the same LAN with wired connections or on very good Internet connections away from the office. The number of disconnects, breaking audio, unable to hear someone, and of course, SfB deciding to crash sometimes after some updates - it's been terrible for people using it. The company has "saved" money by moving to it from using phone lines. Who cares about individual productivity anyway?


Having been on the other side of a Skype for Business installation I can tell you that it is extremely variable and can scale anywhere from a self-contained single server set-up[1] to a multi-region, multi-fail-over-cluster, highly available, extremely complicated set-up[2]. We had a few issues post initial install but spent the time to track them down to the point where our system was reliable and more usable than web ex and it's ilk. This is the crux of Lync, so much depends on your required set up and how well that was done.

[1] - http://bressner.com/ucbox-express/ [2] - http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=550989


Well, we're on MS Office 365 and all that it provides, including Skype. I have no idea how things could be so bad even with that (it used to be bad before with an on-premise installation too).


Skype for Business (i.e. rebranded Lync) is complete garbage.


If I could even log in to Skype for Business, that would be great.


Skype for Business is abysmal. Login credential always seem to be a huge problem using the desktop client so we just join using the web client.


Most of my customers are located in a different city than the one I live and work in. You'd think videoconferencing would be perfect for someone like me.

But no, once or twice a month I rent a car and drive ~225km to meet with them personally. I supplement these in-person meetings with phone calls.

I'm not sure I've ever had a videoconference call go perfectly smoothly, and I found that these kinds of calls added all sorts of invisible friction to the customer relationship. My goal as a service provider is to take problems away from my customer, not to add new ones or make them feel technically inept.

My travel days are long and tiring, but most of my customers actually forget that I'm not local, which is exactly how I like it.

This product looks interesting, and purports to solve some of the issues, but color me skeptical.


Do you think a video wall would help? I often wonder if it is the size of the screen that makes people feel 'distant' when using video conferencing.

Super high def full wall screen, so they can see every hair on your head with minimal lag -- I think this would work, the only thing they'd miss was a handshake.


I don't think the friction has anything to do with screen size. It's the never-ending technical issues.

Oops, you're frozen. Dang, we lost the connection. There's a really bad echo, do you hear that? Bob can't connect. Etc.

Besides, I'm not particularly handsome in HD. :-)


Why do members of an online conference need to be seen at all? What is the benefit of adding video instead of just using audio -- y'know, the medium by which actually information is exchanged?


Human beings happen to be tuned for face to face communication. They exchange a relatively low bandwidth but high importance information through facial gestures, eyebrows, eye contact, etcetera. As long as businesses relationships are still happening between such human beings, there will be a value placed on seeing each other's faces.


Yeah, I get that. I'm sure there are benefits for a purely business-oriented meeting where people are guarding their cards and trying to make deals.

But I've had to be on conferences with purely technical topics where people use cameras. There's barely even a reason for the call to begin with when specs and questions can just be sent via e-mail, so why do we need to see each other?


I'm convinced this exact scenario, bad A/V at the start of a meeting, has cost billions in lost dev time.


I completely agree. Out of all the places I've worked at and all of the developers I've talked to, not being able to work AV with TVs for presenting or conference calls is the common, almost 100% of the time an issue.

One place I worked at spent about $25,000 to get an AV system setup complete with conference calling that was supposed to make it "easy". Every single meeting without fail we'd waste 10 minutes trying to figure it out then have to bring someone from IT support who would then spend 10 minutes themselves fiddling with it.


Perhaps if expectations were set before rolling out a new system, that IT Support would attend every meeting ten minutes early to get things working, conference system decision-makers would have priorities better aligned with the rest of the organization. Of course you could plan for a "Phase 2" in which mandatory attendance would cease, but that would be based on performance rather than timing.


> IT Support would attend every meeting ten minutes early to get things working

Why must these things be so complicated that you need IT support for them? The purpose of computers is to automate and make things easier.


That's the point: they shouldn't be. A situation like that would be seen as an intolerable waste in the C-suite (with the exception of their IT support guy). However, if the status quo were for the support to be there every time, that sets up a different conversation in the executive meeting:

CEO: "Why does everything take so long to get done?"

Everyone: "We can only have 15 meetings starting at the same time, and any additional meetings must be delayed 20 minutes, because there are only 15 IT support techs."

CEO: "What?!? Is this something to do with that teleconference project? That was like a year ago!"

CIO: "That's why I've suggested to the stakeholders, most of whom are here in this meeting, that they sign off on moving to Phase 2. That way we'll have more capacity to fix the ongoing issues with desktops and printers..."

Everyone: "Absolutely not! Your techs get there ten minutes ahead of time, and usually they're still struggling to get everything working five minutes after we should have started! The system you bought is crap!"

CIO: "We've always had a great relationship with that vendor, but unfortunately their product has had a few issues..."

CEO: "I know what 'great relationship' means... I don't care if the salesmen for competing products don't have comparable expense accounts, just get something in here that works!"


Well I guess this is what the Microsoft Surface Hub promises to fix. That makes 10(or 20k) per Device please.


Unless your tied to Microsoft Products (including Skype for Business), its not worth buying the Surface Hub.


Care to elaborate? What doesn't work? Can't you use normal Skype?


Its been several months, but I recall it is really tied to Skype for Business (Lync), and having a windows domain. The office that had one of these didn't use skype for business nor had an Windows domain. It can be switched into a dumb display mode though, but performance in that mode is iffy.


why isn't Google Hangouts good enough?

I've done a lot of deals, real high value business, and meeting coordination in them, in a variety of situations and companies.


Hangouts is so strange to me (like many Google products I guess). They got a ton of traction; first release immediately was super solid and then nothing. Nothing has changed in ages. No obvious features get implemented. I would love so much to have s tile view of all participants. Ideally we would get a codec that's actually supported by hardware instead of this battery draining mess. I'd love to have an option for the video not to be cropped. I can't count the confusion that has caused over the years with people in meeting wondering why someone is only showing their forehead out why everybody but them can see multiple people on camera but they only see someone in the center. All the hard work seems to be done, but Google refuses to polish and properly maintain it. It's bizarre.


Google desperately needs an "Executive Vice President of People Actually Using Shit". Someone who's entire job is to go to demos of products that are about to ship and cancel them until they at least work well enough to pass the laugh test.

Nearly everything Google makes is just some version or another of Google Home telling your Android phone not to handle that voice prompt to add a calendar entry (which your phone can do) because Google Home is there, so that Google Home can tell you that Google Home can't add calendar entries yet.

Hey, here's Allo. We think you're going to love it. I mean, it doesn't have SMS support, so no one is actually going to use it, but other than being pointless, ain't it great?

My EVP there would have walked in, saw the first slide about a new messenger, and said, "Let me stop you here. Does it transparently bridge IP chat and SMS into one conversation like iMessage? No? OK, I'm going to lunch. I'm sure your stickers are cool and all, but pass."


Why all the hate for Hangouts? I have used it for five years to build and run my company. There is never an issue with Hangouts unless someone in the meeting has a hardware problem (meanwhile everyone else can handle the meeting). It's fast and easy for anyone to use screenshots or video. If you use YouTube Live Events, you can even have a company meeting with every person joining. We have done these once a week for years for fifteen minutes prior to lunch.

Hangouts has been amazing for us.


Hangouts was (is?) pretty good. But it hasn't been immune to Google's inability to figure out how to make a thing people want.

Initially it was IP only. Then it added SMS support. Then it added merged conversations between SMS and IP. Then it unmerged those conversations. All the while only really working well on the desktop inside a weird Chrome extension that burned through battery like kindling because there was no hardware support for encoding and decoding the video.

I still use it on my phone, but again, the only actual feature anyone really wants from a text/chat/IM program is the one that enables "I just want to send a message to Alice. You figure out how to get it to her appropriately" -- a.k.a. iMessage. If you put stickers and crap in there, sure, people will use them I guess, but the one absolute core feature anyone should expect for at least five years now is still the one Google can't figure out how to do.

And they were actually close with Hangouts at one point. Close enough, in my opinion. It lacked the automatic routing of iMessage, but just showing any message I've received from my wife in one conversation and giving me the ability to toggle how I send a reply right there in the conversation view was fine.


I think Hangouts is absolutely a viable product as it is. It just seems like it got released and then everyone moved on instead of making it better.


At one time this was a function of how Google did promotions/pay raises. I'm not sure if Hangouts got caught in that catch 22 or not but it did kill a lot of decent projects.

Had that team remained relevant they could have conceivably done a "Chromebox" Hub like the Surface Hub and given Microsoft some competition in that space.

EDIT: Ok so as is pointed out there is a chromebox for meetings. Pretty nice. Seems to be out of the Enterprise group though, is that still part of Google or is it an 'Other Bet' now?


It's out of Google "other". Accounted along with Cloud all under Diane Greene.

Also, modern GVC is fucking amazing.


We had it at my old company and it was garbage. Super frustrating to join meetings (type your automatically generated, super long meeting name on a tiny keyboard), random crashes freezes and relatively poor video quality. Another super annoying thing was screensharing had an extremely low bitrate. It was so bad that it was pretty pretty useless to demo any nice UI features or animations. The framerate was 2-5 fps.


Completely opposite experience. Where Skype and Gotomeeting would lag, Hangouts was 99% smooth. Perhaps you've got terrible firewall?

The only problem I used to have is audio would die whenever I mess with browser plugins (disabling that WebRTC feature that leaks your internal IP for privacy, and some other Googlyeish feature).


We use Hangouts pretty extensively (2300 employees) but for anything involving more than 4 people we've switched to Zoom; all of the OP's problems creep up quickly and intermittently in Hangouts.

Also we keep WebEx around for screen control, it seems still best bang/buck for that.


we use it at work. it hooks into meeting rooms' calendars and you just have to use the chromebox remote to select the right hangout in the agenda. no typing involved (unless you were doing an ad-hoc meeting, then you'd just type one of our names as the hangout name). It works quite well.


Yeah we have the same experience, I'm surprised hangouts works so badly for others. As long as you invite the chromeboxes to the same meetings as everyone else, it's super simple to operate and for everyone to join.


Does it work with non-google Calendars?


Yes. We use it with clients frequently.


Most everything you're describing is a part of the new beta hangouts.

If you're a part of a large Google Cloud account, have your IT person contact your gCloud account manager and get on the beta. Actually, if you're a part of a large account and your IT team is risk tolerant.


You're right in that 99% of them are complete garbage. However I was pleasantly surprised when my company switched to Zoom[1]. A company I had never heard of before. In terms of call quality I've never experienced anything better. Beyond that their mobile experience is almost better in terms of raw features than their desktop app (which is still very good in its own right).

1.) https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/zoom-video-communica...


Zoom is consistently garbage for us. The latency is high, the audio quality is low, and the apps have a really terrible user experience.


I wonder where the closest Zoom PoP is to you? I've had the opposite experience, Zoom worked on connections where Hangouts was terrible.


If two participants are in EU, the latency is awful. I don't get the impression they have multiple POPs.


I'm based in the EU (until Brexit anyway) and often do calls with mainland Europe. Never had that problem. Seen a high CPU warning a couple of times but it goes away. Overall I'm a fan. I have friends who use it for virtual conferences even.


Do you have people using the POTS gateways?


I use the free version out of the box to onboard new people (mostly independent coaches/consultants from around the world) as partners - see https://www.agendashift.com/partners to get a feel of geographic coverage


We use uberconference (nothing to do with Uber!) in North America and Europe (multiple countries) and it works like a charm.


I guess like every option mentioned here they all suck for someone. We have used Uberconference and the audio quality is terrible. And it's not uniformly terrible either which is even more frustrating. Some of the attendees won't be able to understand some people and other attendees everything sounds fine (although it always sounds like a poor quality cellphone conversation).

With Google Hangouts we have poor quality audio as well and at least once per day we have someone that their audio won't come thorough unless they restart their Mac.


I'm secretary for an org. We're trying to use uberconference for our executive board meetings. I like that remotes can call into conference bridge via phone.

I bought a SABRA bluetooth thingie for the room. Seems to work well.

Our results are mixed. We test out the conf room before the meeting starts. Good to go. Then weird stuff happens. People being muted. Their icon shows them talking, but no sound. People being dropped.

I don't mind the unreliability so much. 7 laws of networking and so forth.

I frikkin hate that I don't know what's broken, so can't hope to fix it. Especially DURING the frikkin meeting.


I've used Uberconference (pro) over fiber for a couple of years, and it's been rock solid. In cases where one caller is bad, the web interface will show you who is killing the call quality and lets you mute them.

Except in rare cases, I find the problems you're describing are usually a problem with the end-user, their equipment, or their network. Cheap phones, bad cell connection, bad voip, etc. An unmuted speakerphone with a noisy background can bring most calls to their knees.


We too have used Uberconference, I forget why we ditched that as well, might have been down to the cost of the thing. I actually quite liked it, the web application was solid and it encourages ad-hoc meetings.


We (2300 employees or so) use a mix of

- Zoom (larger meetings where we need it to be rock solid),

- Hangouts (for smaller / quick meetings since we are in Gsuite), and

- WebEx (for external tech support / keyboard sharing)

- Slack / Screenhero (internal chat and keyboard sharing)

Zoom has been a revelation especially with large videoconferences. Rock solid global performance.


When is Slack going to release Screenhero as part of their standard product? They swallowed the latter well over a year ago, and nothing's come of it.


The answer I received when I asked about linux support for SH may be helpful here: Instead of porting screen hero, they are (were? 6 mos ago) working on integrating the features into Slack.


I refuse to use anything that requires proprietary plugin/app. AFAIK so far the only thing that works natively in the broswer is Hangouts.


The power drain from Hangouts/Chrome is astounding. I admit it's convienent but native does have its benefits it you need a lot of video conferencing (like all day pairing)


Adobe connect allows participants on desktop to enter in the browser without software downloads aswell (http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect/meetings.html).It's expensive though. Anyone know any more inexpensive options that work natively in the browser? Would be nice to get a little list going.


Hangouts requires a proprietary plugin in Firefox on Linux. I'll use it for work, on my work computer, but I'll never use it on my personal computers for that reason.


appear.in


appear.in requires a plugin for screen sharing but otherwise, I do like it.


The plugin is dummy, required by chrome and just gives permission to share screen. Appear.in has been whitelisted on firefox and requires no plugins there.


Saw your comment too late and already made my own (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13641706).

I'm wondering what your CPU usage looks like in Zoom sessions when just participating vs. when you're sharing your screen.


Sharing screen with Zoom takes a decent amount of CPU, compared to just talking, which eats only about 5-10% from my experience.


Is this for audio only?

Which platform and hardware are you on?


Depends on what programs I have open. The ultimate combo to make my Macbook cry is running a Zoom meeting with video enabled and asana.com open.


+1 to this.

We're across 24 hours of time zones and conduct a majority of internal and external meetings over video conference. We've pretty much tried them all and Zoom has been the best.

That said, there are still things to improve, so will be interesting to compare.


We've recently switched to Zoom too, and had pretty good experiences with it.


I'll also +1 - Zoom has consistently excellent video and audio, and is a breeze to use.


Chromebox for Meetings (basically, Hangouts video conferencing in a box) is actually pretty awesome: https://enterprise.google.com/chrome/video-conferencing/

Disclaimer: I work for Google, albeit not on Chrome, and use this every day.


Yes, agreed. It is great — use it where I work (10k employees) and it was such a relief over all the conferencing solutions we tried (my team was a guinea pig for several).

The coolest thing is that the company rolled out hangouts in a weekend to 100% of the conference rooms, replacing all projectors in the process. It completely democratized remote work and remote offices since people are using Hangout by default.


I've seen almost every solution used internally at Amazon to one degree or another. It's really telling that you get a bunch of highly competent technical people in the room and they still end up fighting with the conferencing software and waste a bunch of time in the meeting trying to get everyone connected.

I'm really not surprised they built their own in the end. It's a clear pain point for companies.

That said, my current employers (not Amazon) have been using Zoom (zoom.us) and it seems to be really quite good. I've had almost no problems with it at all.


Zoom seems to be a lot better for pricing.

At a company of 12 people, our GoToMeeting bill was $15,000/yr.

But uhh, call-in rates of 1c/min/participant? That's going to add up. We would regularly have meetings of two hour duration (programming, planning) with up to six-eight attending is a $10 meeting in itself. Chicken feed compared to salaries but I could easily see pricing of up to $1k/mo with this.

Shame.


Compare the 1c per minute to the staff cost of meetings and it's not even pocket change. It's like a 1% tax on meetings.

To get a $1k meeting bill with $100k fully loaded avg participant cost or about $50/hr (way too low in metros, but let's be conservative), that's 1600+ meeting hours or about $80k/mo in staff costs.

(I see you do mention this but I wanted to call it out).

I think an interesting way to look at it is, if it can make your meetings one minute shorter than what you do now, you'll actually save.


> At a company of 12 people, our GoToMeeting bill was $15,000/yr.

Am curious how? I think it's like max $50 a person/month, and that's only for huge meetings.


Actually, I appreciate the heads up... I wonder if we're still on "older" plans that are more expensive (I don't run the billing but I do get to listen to the complaints about the cost). Because yeah, at the current plans we should be seeing a max of $7k/yr.


We've tried loads of them. Skype, hangouts, appear.in, zoom, ... They all sucked with voice and video all cutting out and getting regularly garbled etc. And finally Slack added video, and is amazing. No problems since then, Slack has solved the problem for us.


I'm not sure where the optimism comes from. I too have been surprised at how mediocre most conferencing software is, and concluded that it's probably harder than it seems.

What would great videoconferencing software look like, and what are the odds that this is it?


realtime protocols depend a lot on where are you and where are the participants, and even if you cover everything else you have random things that you have no influence on. like what route does your traffic go, how is the buffer set up on this route and so on.

i had to debug voip and outside of some simple things like not enough resources/bandwidth it can be really frustrating.


Google did and I think they do make a lot of money from it. They've just chosen to target the business sector. We have the Asus Chromebox for Large Meeting Rooms[0] in every meeting room here and it works flawlessly 99% of the time. I'm amazed how well it works. Automatically integrated with Google Calendar, so walking into a meeting room has the upcoming meetings for that room displayed on the screen. Single tap and away you go. If you need to join another meeting, simply type in the name using the remote. So easy.


Everyone has tried. If you're in SF and a BART user you will have seen at least three different ones being advertised. I believe the BlueJeans ones are still up.

BlueJeans is pretty good.


I don't know Google even today comes across as a company that does technology very well but not solutions. It's a shame that no startup took this on till now.


Best thing about Hangouts: it was rock solid and bulletproof at first, despite the clunky UI (and weird plugin system). Somewhere along the road, they removed all the crap UI, and in the process: - it became more unreliable (F5 to get sound working) - it introduced crazy bugs (says your muted, but not really!) - it remained software accelerated on mac so it kills the batt


>Enterprise conferencing software is so bad and so expensive I'm astonished it took this long for a decent competitor to come in

Have you tried http://www.justchimein.com/chime-in.html ?


> I'm really surprised Google didn't go all in with making Hangouts a decent competitor. I have a feeling this will make a lot of money.

I guess video conferencing is about to get really easy to implement over WebRTC.

So I'm guessing there will be an explosion of competitors soon.


>Enterprise conferencing software

Have you tried Cisco's offerings? Maybe I just have a really excellent IT department, but whether joining audio only, from a tablet, desk, desk phone or telepresence room it just works. It's impressive as hell.


I've used Google Hangouts at my last two companies. Overall, it worked pretty well.


We used Outlook communicator and it wasn't that bad. There were some glitches sometimes but overall it was workable.


We use hangouts at a client of mine and it works great—what else would you like to see out of it, out of curiousity?


Have you looked at Zoom(zoom.us)? We have been using it for a while now and it seems to work very well for us.


Amazon acquired Biba[0], this is that product with the backend swapped out. It's currently being beta'd internally and they haven't yet added anything over Biba the product. There are some great features planned, from what I've heard.

[0] http://www.biba.com/


I really do not like conference systems which do not work on Linux. Not everybody is using a Mac or Windows. Microsoft is also ignoring Skype and Skype for Business on Linux. This is all crap.


We are mostly Mac and Linux at my company.. give Zoom a shot, it's worked out well for video, audio, and sharing... (Europeans in this post have had latency issues though)


We (resin.io) are a totally remote company, with 50 people across 25 cities on 5 continents, and we use Zoom for pretty much everything every day, it's amazing.

I've never seen any latency problems personally - we even do a call with everybody in the company in one room every week, mostly on video, and it doesn't even blink. Drastically better than anything else I've ever tried.


I can vouch for this, used it daily for most of last year.. And we didn't have much of any latency issues with our team in Canada and 2 others in Turkey.


same here, people from all over the globe, 30+ people on a meeting, everything just works®.

and the linux client works really well (it's on aur, if you use archlinux)


For our needs, https://talky.io does the trick. It "just works" for our Linux machines (along with Mac and Windows). Never tried to use it on mobile (however apparently there's an iPhone app for it). It's peer-to-peer low-latency video chatting via WebRTC, the video quality is far better for us than our previous attempts with Google Hangouts.

Also, it's free.


Don't know about Skype for business but they are rewriting the normal Skype client for Linux.

https://community.skype.com/t5/Linux/bd-p/Linux

I didn't try it out. The old client still works. The only missing feature is screen sharing in multiple parties video calls. I'm using TeamViewer for that. Desktop sharing is much smoother with TeamViewer anyway.

The real plus of Skype over Hangout or Webex is the chat: the history is stored forever locally and I can search every message I sent. We're using a Skype group chat even when we're using TeamViewer.


Skype for Business only shares a logo and the name, everything else is Lync-as-usual: Windows-only, and sometimes not even Windows.


macOS also has Skype for Business


Old client will be turned off in a month or so.


That would be a big problem. Any link to that announcement?

Edit: never mind, I googled it https://community.skype.com/t5/Linux/Skype-for-Linux-End-of-...

(I should have googled first, asked second)

It's a problem because it seems that the new client is far from being fully functional.

Another update: The Linux client v4.3 seems to be safe. In a post on page 2 of that thread the community manager states

> At this time we are not retiring any of the existing working Linux Clients.

What they are retiring are old Windows and Mac clients

> beginning March 1, users running older versions of Skype for Windows desktop (7.16 and below) or Skype for Mac (7.0 to 7.18) will no longer be able to sign in.

Phew!


> That would be a big problem. Any link to that announcement?

No problem. I am using the new Alpha Client since three months and it is very stable and usable. The only major missing feature are video conference calls with more but one opposite, but that is actively being worked on. Looks like MS is heading for feature parity with the Windows client.


It looks like they support a web client for use on Linux for viewing meetings, at least.

https://answers.chime.aws/articles/17/supported-operating-sy...


At my current gig, it's WebEx. The Linux client supposedly does work on 32-bit FireFox using 32-bit Java. I've tried some docker containers that supposedly support this configuration, but so far I can't get anything to work.

WebEx is literally the only reason I even start up a Windows VM at work.


When I worked in a WebEx shop, I gave up on the Linux/Firefox situation and just used their Android client on a tablet or phone.


They tout security but I don't think it's open source and it looks like everything is stored on Amazon servers.

Minimally it is centralized, and you can't verify that there's no backdoor. In this day and age, that means we're both trusting their core intentions, and also trusting that some government won't step in and silently force their hand. I don't personally feel that is good enough to be considered secure anymore.


That is exactly what I thought when I read the words "secure" and "trust". If it is not open source it is neither secure nor should anybody trust it. The word used in Britain to describe a statement like that is bollocks.


Like any other hosting, if it's in the US, it must be considered compromised in these terms. That's the world we live in now.


> Like any other hosting, if it's in the US, it must be considered compromised in these terms.

s/, if it's in the US//

There, fixed it for you. Any data not under your control can and will be used against you, especially by a state wielding a monopoly on force.


"With Amazon Chime, you can feel confident you’re communicating securely."

This wording has always struck me as being awful. People felt confident investing with Bernie Madoff as well. I'd rather have confidence from proven security instead of just feeling confident.


confidence is a feeling. there's no other way to experience confidence than to feel it.


I'd word it something along the lines of: "Communicate securely with your team, confident that we've taken care of your online security via [list of reasons]". Yes, confidence is a feeling but for me it sounds better this way. Saying "you can feel confident" reads to me like "with MtGox, your funds can be secure".


Great product idea. At work we use Skype for business and it's a disaster - especially bad is it seemingly randomly says 'your device is causing poor audio quality' and mutes you. The only way to recover is to dial out and in. Before that it was the AT&T solution - such an ugly application with poor usability. If Amazon really polish this product and provide a great user experience and quality they could pick up a lot of business.

Edit: there's a problem here. Skype for business allows up to 250 participants. The AT&T solution (webex maybe) allows, I think, an unlimited number. Amazon Chime has a limit of 250 people. This wouldn't cut it for presentations in large companies e.g. announcement of annual results or divisional virtual 'town hall'


All conferenincing systems have a limit on the number of first-class participants (people who can listen and speak). Broadcast is a different problem and there are a ton of really good solutions when you have less than 250 speakers but many listeners.

There are no conferencing products, to my knowledge, that support more than 250 first-class participants over the internet in a reliable way.

If you have an example, I'd be very curious to play with that product.


So can Chime allow more than 100 listeners. I interpreted the 100 limit as a hard cut off on the number of participants irrespective of their class.


> Amazon Chime works seamlessly across your devices.

> No Linux support


Haven't looked but probably no Windows Mobile support either. I know I'm a infinitesimal user base, but the lack of support from services makes me not use them. This is one place Slack really excels and why I hate Hangouts.


Huh, I was excited until then. Onwards....


I'm definitely going to try this (even though unusable for us because of missing Linux support). We have currently settled on Zoom and it's okay, they do have Linux support.

One problem I have with all video conferencing solutions we've tried (same for my colleagues, all Mac or Linux users, sadly no Windows users to compare) is high CPU usage. I have a 2015 MacBook Pro and when I share my screen CPU usage skyrockets to 150-200% basically pegging the whole CPU. Without sharing my screen CPU usage is at 80-100%.

I have similar problems with certain videos on the web (e.g. Ted.com and others).

Is this something everyone else here sees as well? I always assumed they must because we see it across devices and products.


I wonder if it's a function of what you're sharing? I use zoom with PowerPoint and Keynote all the time and have never had my fans spin up when sharing. Haven't noticed it sharing Safari or my whole desktop either...

As a test I'm currently on a video+computer audio+full screen sharing zoom, and my overall CPU load is at <20%, with Zoom accounting for about half of that.


That's interesting. I'm mostly sharing either Powerpoint, IntelliJ stuff or just Chrome.

I more or less can't use IntelliJ any more productively while sharing my screen because it's starved for resources.


Yes, the same experience. Also a Zoom user and screen sharing in particular is a CPU and battery hog.


Someone mentioned to me here on HN that Safari uses less CPU when video/screen sharing. I have the same problem as you.

Can't use my built in microphone because the fans as blasting full power due to the CPU usage.


Their claim of "a third of the cost of traditional solutions" is an apples and oranges comparison.

The basic and plus pricing options, while cheap, are practically useless with only 2 maximum attendees and the $15/user/month pro plan is hardly "a third of the cost...".

Looks like a great product with an average price point.


GoToMeeting charges $50/month so it is 1/3 the cost of GoToMeeting, at least at the individual subscriber level.


And the price for Biba Pro (on which Chime is based) previously was $10/user/month...


I suspected they were directly challenging either WebEx or Skype for Business.


https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-more-offi...

Skype for Business is available in all Office 365 Business plans except the software-only one (ProPlus). That includes the $5/6 plan (https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-busine...) as well as the $8.25/10 plan that includes all of Office.

It's not a very good competitor on that front...


This is really cool but I wish they had more details on the Chat part of the solution. What does it look like? Can you theme it? Does it have any integrations (ala Slack)? Can you have inline pictures? Does it have a rich message API?


More importantly, does it support GIFs?


It does not. Just tried it. Displays as a static image, even when you open it in the chat window.


> Amazon Chime is a communications service that transforms online meetings with a secure, easy-to-use application that you can trust.

- Amazon, PRISM partner


"Amazon never participated in the NSA’s PRISM program." - Stephen Schmidt, CISO @ AWS

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/privacy-and-data-secur...

(Full disclosure: I work on AWS}.


>"Amazon never participated in the NSA’s PRISM program." - Stephen Schmidt, CISO @ AWS

As true as this may be, the only acceptable form of privacy guarantee is through cryptographic algorithms and open source software. Anything else is a fantasy tale.


There have been bugs in open source cryptography. E.G. Heartbleed, shellshock, etc.

There are state actors that will pay to find the bugs, or put the bugs there (and the underhand C contest shows how hard it is to find the bugs).

Open source is not an ironclad guarantee.


Closed source is an ironclad guarantee that the source cannot be audited independently.


And yet companies hire out security audits on a regular basis, frequently as a part of their contracts.

Even Windows has source available, if you pay for the pleasure.


How much more secure does a theoretical audit that never actually happens make you?


I don't believe claims of perfection were made. Merely claims of a standard of excellence.


And I wouldn't say standard of excellence--just the possibility of excellence. With closed source you can't have even that. You pretty much have to assume the worst.


Honest question: how do you feel about Google's security history?


I suspect they do a good job at a technical level, but they have interests in advertising that are at odds with my privacy interests. I also have no way to know if they are doing Dark Nefarious Things.


I totally agree with you.

From your initial comment, I got the impression that you were claiming that closed source software could not be excellent..meaning secure.

By the way, I'm a big GPL/free software nut. However, I understand the place of closed source software, and under the right circumstances, it can indeed be excellent.


This is where I've come around to appreciating the FSF's moral argument for Free software a bit more than the instrumental-utility argument of the Open Source movement.

Open Source can be bad, in terms of quality. Closed source can be good, in terms of quality.

Security is an interesting case where I don't believe that you can be trustworthy and closed. Could the code be good? Yes. Can I validate in any meaningful sense that it doesn't violate my expectations? No.

Of course it's possible to have obfuscated malicious behavior in Free/Open Source software. But, there is at least the possibility of descovery of such defects. With closed source, there isn't.


We'll have to diverge a little, then, but not too much.

In some cases, such as the security sensitive code written at Google, there are far more eyes on the code than there are with all too much of the critical, security sensitive open source code.

In my mind, it's a matter of alignment of interests.

For the cases of 'run of the mill' security questions, such as buffer overflows, password leaks and the like, Google, Facebook and I have fully aligned interests. None of us want those things in anybody's code.

Things get harder for other security questions, such as data collection, and cooperation with surveillance, legal and otherwise.

In the latter case, state surveillance, Google (and other like entities) have interests that are mostly aligned with mine, but not entirely. They're pushing back on warrant-less, Patriot Act type crap, while efficiently complying with traditional directed warrant disclosures. (As far as we know!)

Fully open source and free software will almost always have full alignment with my interests, and so is better in that regard.

As far as code-level bugs, I think the general rule is that closed source code is pretty poor at companies, with a few notable exceptions, where I think things are a heck of a lot better.

Finally: Wow, I just reminded myself that this thread talking about a new Amazon product. Crazy. (:


But at least you have a development history with open source. If there's a bug/vulnerability, its origins can be investigated.


VW executives were all lying about knowing about their emission "optimizations". You can't believe any statements.


Because you'd admit to cooperating as CISO of the biggest cloud computing platform right?


He wouldn't voluntarily make a comment lying about it either.


the NSA chief had no problem to lie dirEctly in front of Congress.


If it was classified information, he would likely not be able to admit it. After double checking, the slides do not mention Amazon.

Amazon could be involved with spying though, just not under the same program.

We'll never know for sure. What a world we live in.


Don't Google, Apple, Facebook and friends all say the same?


True or not, their word means actually nothing. I trust cryptography, not a capitalist's word.


They happily built the CIA a 600m data center though.


I imagine the collaboration would happen on a need to know basis.


And what do all the PRISM documents say?

You don't admit this as it's bad for business.


Amazon wasn't listed on the PRISM partners slide. What documents are you referencing?

EDIT:

General info on PRISM: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_(surveillance_program)

"PRISM Partners" slide: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prism_slide_5.jpg


I double checked and you're right, they are not mentioned. I could have sworn they were.

I stand corrected.


They say corporate data centers were surreptitiously wiretapped.


Having done a lot of work with financial firms in the past, I found that they're incredibly wary of any agency having access to any of their data.

As a consequence any telephony or messaging product we built had to have a self hosted deployment as part and parcel of our product offering. This meant we usually went for a Java backend which gave us great packaging and install tools. It also meant we had .deb and .rpm packages for all our products.

I can't tell you how much those packages helped. Once you start bundling up your software deployments as proper versioned installation packages you become quite spoilt in the DevOps department - it's hard to use Chef/Puppet or Vagrantfiles for software installations now!


Has this been substantiated? To my knowledge Amazon denies being a part of PRISM and the only thing a quick search reveals is that denial and Snowden criticizing Amazon for not being HTTPS by default on some of their endpoints.


Have you read Snowden's Leaks? All of the major tech companies have been on board for a long time (and that was years ago). How can you believe that a giant like Amazon will somehow magically not be part of it? It's time for the country to sharpen its critical thinking skills.


All of the major tech companies have been on board for a long time (and that was years ago).

I have read the Snowden leaks.

This is one of those times when details matter, and in those details you are wrong.

I wrote this previously[1] about Apple, but it applies here too:

The problem is that PRISM has conflated two separate things, and it is unclear how much of that conflation occurred at the NSA and how much outside.

Apple was (and is) compliant in the "release customer details with a court order" thing, which it seems is part of the PRISM data.

However, there was a second part, where the NSA got bulk access to communications without a court order. It is unclear which companies were complicit in this part. We know Google wasn't (because the NSA slide decks show how they had to intercept Google's inter and intra-data center links which were unencrypted at the time - and Google undertook a crash program to fix that).

Apple's statements are pretty clear: they say they only release information with a court order. That means they weren't complicit in bulk collection - but they may have been hacked at the time like Google was.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13517740


Yes, this is a crucial distinction and matches my understanding from what I've read of these public documents: PRISM is a program in which the NSA intercepted Internet and other communications, and then reconstructed the meaning of those communications at a higher level -- that is, interpreting HTTP requests to Google as searches, email views, and whatever else.

I did not see any evidence in the leaked documentation nor the reporting on those primary sources that the companies involved were complicit. If this evidence exists I would be very interested to know, but from Google's actions subsequent to the leaks it did not seem they agreed with the program or were complying with it, and instead took actions to oppose the program by encrypting their communications links internally, and indirectly by advocating encryption in public Internet protocols such as HTTP and SMTP.


I was under the impression that Google gave bulk access to the NSA, and the NSA wiretapped them regardless. I don't have a source to substantiate that claim though.


It doesn't even matter at all.

The US demands - through law - that any company, US and doing business in the US, give access to all it's user data upon simple subpaena by a secret court without notification to anyone, in a situation that can last for years. They're not even allowed to let you delete your data. There is no justification needed and most users are never informed this has happened, not even in the future. If you're a US citizen the time limit is measured in years (and can be extended by said secret court), if you're not a US citizen (or merely suspected not to be one), there is no time limit.

Doing "just" this to their users is what is understood in this discussion under the misnomer "not cooperating" with US spying. One can only assume that the OP has a funny sense of humor.

Given that this is noncooperation, why are we discussing who is cooperating and who is not ? This is WAY over the line, and of course means that no foreign company of any size should trust ANY US company with any amount of data.

And, frankly, it means that given the slightest disagreement in court, you should assume that all your data is public. Famously this facebook/instagram/whatsapp private messages in divorce cases, but not just that. Outlook messages of non-US citizens being picked apart by competitors because of a small non-payment vs non-delivery civil case in a non-US court has happened.

Note that the US government is famous for exploiting private sector relationships for spying and the reverse (exploiting government spying to give advantages to favored US companies).

So you should assume the worst and immediately implement basic security mechanisms (that are standard procedure at most companies now):

1) anything sent to you for any reason gets automatically deleted, especially email, unless specifically and individually prevented

2) any backup system is encrypted and the keys are subject to (1).

3) NOTHING can be put on any cloud system, for any reason without (1) implemented, and you should refuse to cooperate with external parties that insist on such a system.]

4) more strict measures are needed for director level and upward (note: legal definition of director, not just because it's used in company directories). Protocols negotiated beforehand dictate what can only be discussed over secure channels. First item on that list: anything related to any one specific employee.


Access to a single user's data is different in degree and effect to bulk collection.

I can't defend the secret courts or how long the secrecy lasts though.


I've never seen any evidence that in any leaked papers and Google has very strongly denied it.


> All of the major tech companies have been on board

and

> How can you believe that [...] Amazon [isn't] part of it?

I don't know what they say, but what you're saying here is unclear.

Do the leaks mention Amazon or not?


The closest I can see to someone asserting they do is

https://www.mhpbooks.com/is-amazon-one-of-the-companies-work...

But the thrust of that article is more suspicion that Amazon is not mentioned in the leaks and questioning the reliability of the company's word. It does cite one source, described in the article as non-mainstream, which asserts that Amazon was a part of PRISM, but that source fails to cite any leak.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article40822.html

Edit: I should mention that the first article casting doubt on Amazon's reliability is published by an independent publishing company, historically an industry that has been at odds with Amazon and harmed by its business practices.


Not sure what the long term play for Amazon is with a WebEx competitor, something likely to do with getting enterprise business, hope it works out.

In case you hadn't seen it, this is basically the anti-marketing video for how conference calls actually work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYu_bGbZiiQ


Everything else aside, I am surprised/impressed to see that Amazon has the '.aws' top level domain! Does that mean they will be now branding all their AWS infrastructure under this domain?


This pisses me off to no end. I hate how ICANN approved these product name, (mostly) single company TLDs! I think allowing this is terrible. I know it's just a DNS entry, but it's a fundamental change in the way we think of DNS and the Internet.

DNS should not degrade into AOL keywords!


I don't know. I agree with you on one hand. On the other hand, though, the second-level domain name that is typically up for purchase is all about branding. I have a hard time justifying treating TLD as special and distinct from the rest of the domain name.

After all, TLD is just the widest level of the hierarchy that DNS names allow. Why limit TLDs to countries if a particular organization has grown large enough to benefit from it, and wants to pay for it?


Well, ICANN has approved over 600 dot brand TLDs. I suspect we're going to be seeing a lot of them here in the near future.


Amazon paid a lot for that .AWS TLD ($185,000 ICANN application fee alone plus other expenses). I would imagine that this is one of the first sites of many that they'll launch on their .AWS TLD.


Are they competing with WebEx, Skype, or Slack? Looks like a compelling B2B offering from Amazon. I bet they'll have an accompanying hardware to go with this in the coming months.


Looks to me a bit more akin to Cisco's Spark, although without the video endpoints, digital whiteboard and end-to-end security.

https://www.ciscospark.com/products/overview.html

D: I work at Cisco and use Spark daily.


so cisco employees don't use webex? no wonder it sucks ...


More of a Zoom competitor.


Looks like a skype/Webex competitor


"Meetings call you" is a good idea, as is the reconnecting stuff. Who knows if anyone will use this, but even with all the supply in this market, there is still space for something that actually works well. As someone who works remotely I can't wait until this gets figured out.


We use Zoom at Userify and love it. Fantastic Linux client, too. However, it automatically calling me (and saving me time auto-dialing auth codes) would be a pretty nice feature.


So, no video conferencing in basic/plus plan (1:1 doesn't count). It's funny how many attempts there are at making conferencing software that just have audio and some basic chat.

Entry level needs video, since you can get it for free elsewhere (i.e. hangouts).


Not a bad idea. Have a poorer quality (free) version and then offer an upgrade to a higher quality stream.


Amazon's horizontal expansion is pretty fascinating. From an online stores and cloud service provider to consumer products and now b2b apps.


I absolutely love the startupish way aws launches new services. They have the whole "landing page" and marketing pitch class A, but the product is alpha if being nice.

There's long, long way to go for this thing to compete with hangout, zoom, or anything else out there.

Source: I've just tried it out, chatting with myself on native app + 2 browsers.


...application available for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows

Why not Linux?


Probably because they crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that the potential revenue didn't justify the development costs.


Don't overlook that a team might keep using something else because they need to make a conf call between 3 Macs, 1 Windows and 1 Linux (a case with a customer of mine).


I am speculating that they are probably using some Electron app. So they could have probably done Linux. I am just guessing that it's a support issue since Linux comes in so many different ways.


No screenshots of the product?


Does this feature end-to-end encryption?


I don't believe so. If you look under the FAQs and the "Security and Control" heading of the Features page, there is no mention of encryption beyond AES-256. Companies offering E2E typically like to highlight that somewhere, even in a non-technical way.

Furthermore, the security is apparently "fully managed", which to me translates to "keys securely stored on our servers, not client-side."


No Linux client? What's the advantage over WebEx then?

Both hangout and zoom can do Linux, but they aren't seen as corporate as WebEx.


Speaking of.. can Slack hurry up and buy Zoom? Aren't they pretty flush with cash? It seems crazy that they are letting this huge market (where they have a foothold) slip away to new competitors.


A better question would be: How long until AWS has a Slack competitor? That natively integrates with the entire AWS stack?


>natively integrates with the entire AWS stack

I'm not sure I see the utility in this, as Amazon resources and group chat don't really have a lot of overlap, at least for me. What would you need "integrated" into the new AWS Chat that couldn't be accomplished with a chatbot and Slack?


That's what I figured this was, before I read what it did. Someone will come up with a decent competitor one day.


The page claims it has chat and can replace your entire communications stack. Curious to see how it executes on that.


Or even put their Screenhero acquisition to good use and finally roll out screen-sharing.


I clicked through, and was accosted with a gigantic video. I wanted to close the tab right there, but I've seen this before, so I scrolled down to make the giant video go away. No dice, every single page element dances and animates and moves, and there don't seem to be any static images on the whole page. I can't scroll to a single position to read the actual text without some large part of my monitor animating in a suitably distracting fashion.

Why. Just... why? Why is this necessary?


You instantly see what the product is good for. It's something many startups fail at. If you are really interested you will endure a lot to get it.


The page wouldn't even load for me on mobile. When I tried on my desktop, I turned all JS off and it finally started working.


This looks awesome; I'm regularly told that Amazon is a horrendous place to work yet they seem to be producing great software and interesting startup type concepts all the while. Not sure how they do it? AWS is a bit of a mess, maybe it's just there that is problematic...


There are good people everywhere. There are also terrible people in every business. The best people tend to not care about money and leave to go work as paramedics or line cooks or attempt a startup .. and then end up back in software after a year or two. One day we'll get out of here.


How do they authenticate who they are when they call you? I've gotten bogus calls before from "the credit card company", so there needs to be a way to be certain you're talking to the right people.


I think it's the app "calling you", not an actual phone call.


Okay, that makes sense, wasn't completely clear from the video.

Still, they would need to somehow verify it's the right conference call, and not one set up by a phisher.


If it's anything like Slack, the call can only originate from within the application (which is isolated to the single business), so there is no chance for outside calls.


No Linux. Buh-Bye


Why is this surprising ? Just get it for iOS


Someone please do what you say and make one that's clearly better than all the other shitty dwarves out there today so the industry can standardize.

"Should we call, or Go to Meeting, or Google Hangout, or Skype, or Lifesize, or Slack, or Adobe Connect, or Zoom, or WebEx, or Chime, or..." It's getting ridiculous.

For new services: Please don't be based in the US or willing to cooperate with the US Government. Remember, "We don't snitch!" is an excellent marketing line -- I'll give you money for that. I don't trust Amazon or any of these at present.


This is the first time that I've heard Amazon really call out AWS as a name brand in a non aws-dashboard oriented product (maybe they have already in the past?) Are Chime user identities AWS IAM users under the hood?

AWS as a more consumer-facing platform probably has a long climb ahead of it but it could be quite helpful for Amazon to differentiate from their many product misses released under the Amazon name.


I don't know how any of these could compete with Zoom, in terms of their offerings. Perhaps Zoom just doesn't have enough of a big name branding push, otherwise, it is hands down a product one should use over any other. I am a free-user of Zoom and I have explored many others out there; there's just no one who come close to Zoom's offerings.


For those who tried screensharing, does it have a pointing-feature (i.e. viewer can point to something)? There's so many products out there like Skype and Hangout that don't support it and I don't understand why not, it seems pretty basic to me (just only show the arrow on platforms that support it, i.e. OSX, Windows and Linux).


Super expensive dial-in rates. $0.214 per minute in India is basically twice the ISD calling rate.


For some reason they only have toll-free for India, which explains the cost, I guess. (Still seems pretty high.)

https://chime.aws/dialinnumbers/


Wondering if you have a Plus account and setup a call if you then have remote access, group chat etc - a little unclear what happens between Plus and Basic user. if all users need to be Plus then can see this being a problem.


Only amazon would reveal a product without including any screenshots or details.


My Amazon login doesn't work. Is anyone else experiencing this issue? I just logged in on Amazon.com just fine using the same credentials (I use a PW manager). Thanks in advance.


I'm so sick of proprietary walled garden messaging systems. So now I need slack, chime, skype, hangouts, imessage, allo, facebook, etc depending on who I want to talk to.


I'm really curious how this all-in-one concept will compare to the Slack approach of chat as the central functionality augmented by a bunch of integrations with external services.


Screen sharing not being available for free is going to make us skip the free trial. We have plenty of options for voice and chat. And video just isn't that important to my teams. Screen sharing, however, is vital. And we are willing to pay, but as long as hangouts works for free, why pay?

I know everyone says hangouts is dead and Google isn't putting much work into it. But it does work. And unless they actually shut it down, it gives us what we need. Free. We don't use it for large webinars or anything, and it has its flaws, but... free. That is a really hard point to beat.


While we're on the topic of conferencing software, is there a List for Software to use when you want 4k/30p or 1080/60p?

Skype seems to not be up to the task. Our Gbit Connection is.


Have you tried Slack video?


That's only 1on1 for now. We need at least 3 people (more often 5) in a video conference.


Interesting that you pay per user per month. I wonder how it works for occasional and one-off users.

Eg if you want a vendor to join your team's chat or you use it to talk to clients.


With most (all?) of these conferencing, the host is the one that has to have an account and pay - otherwise nobody would be able to use them for support, sales calls, etc.


Plus plan: $2.50 per user, maximum 2 attendees - seriously, $125/mo for 50 users? I think they missed the mark.

Join.me: 50 meeting participants, $22/mo.


No, "user" means someone who can initiate meetings. The Pro Plan ($15/m) allows up to 100 attendees per meeting. So twice the limit and 30% cheaper :-)


When the mean attendees, they are talking about people who have full listen and talk privileges? Not just people who are listen only?


One thing I'd like to hear the official policy on is message privacy (i.e. is management reading your stuff?).

That's a personal concern I have with slack.


The Chime app for Android is very invasive. Instead of asking for permissions as they are needed it asks you to give up everything immediately.


No linux support?


So this is basically what lifesize.com has been providing for ages, sans the Linux support. Truly revolutionary I guess.


From my own experience lifesize voice and video quality is so awful that anything from an egineering company should be superior. Also the stability of the lifesize appliance is horrible. Often enough we've to reboot them before every meeting, because the microphone went dead again. The only positive point is that it works with Chromium on Linux including the window sharing extension. I hope it's of slightly better quality then webex. But I fear that is overly optimistic at least.

On the other hand Google Hangouts is for free, has from my experience a better quality and all of them ship your data to the US. If amazon offers something similar they and can offer an option that keeps your data in Europe that would be an interesting option.


Zoom competitor?


I see Amazon making a successful social network faster than Facebook making a successful market place.


Is Chime based on WebRTC in any way?


Found in Chime MacOS 3rd party licence :

  ** WebRTC; version 90 -- https://webrtc.org/
    Copyright (c) 2011, The WebRTC project authors. All rights reserved.


If they're supporting Safari, then no, not without something additional.


I wouldn't be surprised. Anyone working on it want to confirm?


I hope they don't get in the habbit of releasing -ime products. Wow that's old already


As the guy who has owned chime.tv for well over a decade, this is a bit concerning IP-wise.


Instead of a chime, you should be hearing a cha-ching!


Yes, proceeded by a bang of the gavel. Kidding, kinda.


What IP, besides the domain name? Yours redirects to some game. I don't think you have a brand to protect.


Hope it was good while it lasted


A new player in the area! Is this the first Amazon enterprise service not for developers?


They have a online email interface and a virtual workstation solution also targeted at enterprises.


I noticed that this is from AWS. Is this the first SaaS application coming from AWS?


Amazon already has WorkDocs and WorkMail in the business productivity segment: https://aws.amazon.com/products/?nc2=h_l3_bu (couldn't find a better page with the list)

I guess some of the other services in AWS could be considered as SaaS?


I would add QuickSight to that list https://quicksight.aws/


Appear.in can't be beat.


Agree it's great for small meetings (2-3 people). P2P without any server in between, works as good as your connection.

One thing that bugs me though is using it in Chrome in Mac. 50% of the times the microphone doesn't work and I have to kill coreaudiod and restart the session. I came to a point where I do it before I start a meeting just in case.

It's not appear.in problem though, it happens in Hangouts in Chrome as well


> ... transforms online meetings ...

(has no mention of collaborative white-boarding)


you can check out Acrossio for a new experience with recording and bookmarking during the meeting! www.acrossio.com


UI Seems to be inspired from goto meeting.


For simple and secure meetings, We should give Amazon chime a try.


No screenshots?


Not sure if more impressed with the product or use of a TLD of .aws


Go with the product. ICANN making dumb decisions isn't impressive.


Is it a dumb decision, or a corrupt/biased one?


Yes, yes and yes.


I didn't know there was a .aws tld..


How did they get that TLD .aws?



In soviet Russia...


No wonder Amazon is the most innovative company of 2017.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3067455/most-innovative-companie...




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