There’s a video conferencing arms race currently underway and the chief weapon is intelligence. Over the course of the past decade, we’ve seen video conferencing shift from being a prestige product reserved for the boardrooms of big business to a commercial and social service that is easily available to every computer and smartphone.
The driving force behind this commercialization is the accessibility and ease-of-use of video conferencing. Cloud-based software solutions have replaced tech-heavy on-premise products, subscription arrangements have spread out the cost of one-off product investments, and a focus on the customer experience has streamlined interfaces and automated video call features.
Now that video conferencing is easy, providers are trying to differentiate themselves by being smarter. We have platforms that automatically blur our backgrounds, webcam software that automatically frames our meetings, and video calling apps that prioritize whoever is currently speaking.
The latest example is UberConference Voice Intelligence, a feature that UberConference announced this past September. This automated speech-to-text note-taking feature makes UberConference’s otherwise hit-and-miss video conferencing platform a handy business tool.
What UberConference Offers
UberConference is the video conferencing software arm of California VoIP provider Dialpad. The company began life as an audio-only provider focused on transforming enterprise voice calling; it has since expanded its offerings to include video. That background is evident in the features and performance of UberConference. In some respects, the video platform is quite advanced. In others, it feels like a product in flux.
UberConference is a freemium service that hides its best features behind a subscription paywall. You can use the free version to make video calls with up to ten people, and you can make those calls across desktop and mobile platforms and a Google Chrome-only browser-based platform, but there are limits placed on nearly every feature.
One of UberConference’s most vaunted features—no PINs required to join a meeting—doesn’t apply to the platform’s free version.
For example, screen sharing comes standard with the desktop version but is absent from the mobile app (it’s also one of the more confusing features to use). Similarly, call recording is available for free but is audio-only. One of UberConference’s most vaunted features—no PINs required to join a meeting—doesn’t apply to the platform’s free version. Finally, free video meetings are capped at 45 minutes duration, while the subscription service gives you up to five hours of facetime and up to 100 participants.
This kind of freemium, try-before-you-buy strategy is nothing new or particularly outrageous, but it does rob video customers of the chance to test out what is perhaps the platform’s biggest selling point: UberConference Voice Intelligence.
UberConference Voice Intelligence
UberConference’s Voice Intelligence feature uses now common voice-to-text translation to automatically transcribe your video meeting. Moments after your meeting finishes, you can access a searchable, storable transcript of everything that was said. The idea is to let you leave your pen and paper (or Word doc) behind and instead focus on participating in the discussion unfolding in front of you.
It wasn’t long ago that we at VC Daily were speculating about how such administrative services could be outsourced via a third-party video conference connection and hoping for just such an automated note-taking solution like Voice Intelligence.
Last year, BlueJeans gave its users free access to its AI assistant Eva.
Not only has UberConference delivered on that promise, but they’re not even the first to do so. San Francisco company Hugo integrated its smart meeting notes app with Zoom more than a year ago. And last year, BlueJeans gave its users free access to its AI assistant Eva, which, much like UberConference’s feature, is able to create a searchable, shareable transcript of meetings.
This should probably be a cause for concern for UberConference, because BlueJeans is a far more well-rounded video conferencing platform, and is pitched at the same price point. In the video conferencing arms race, smart is now standard.
Smart Is Now Standard
UberConference is a solid video conferencing platform. Its interface is clean and intuitive, and it carries the basic video calling necessities, such as screen and file sharing, messaging, group calls, and integration with leading business tools G Suite, Office 365, Salesforce, and Slack.
If you step up to the subscription service, you can access some nice features even beyond the Voice Intelligence offering: the platform automatically dials in scheduled meeting guests, you get a toll-free number for use in the U.S. and Canada, and there’s even customizable hold music for your waiting meeting attendees.
The current push to make video conferencing meetings smarter, easier, and more automated is great for consumers.
These features aren’t enough on their own to make up for an uneven experience, however. A company like Dialpad should know better than to offer different mobile and desktop experiences, and audio-only call recording gives away the fact that UberConference is the result of a voice provider switching to video.
UberConference’s smart features are great, but as we said at the top, smart is no longer enough. BlueJeans, for example, can match that Voice Intelligence feature while providing a better basic video performance, and even free services like Skype now offer speech-to-text wizardry…and can even translate the resulting text into other languages.
The current push to make video conferencing meetings smarter, easier, and more automated is great for video consumers. It is creating a baseline of video services that now include smart features such as automated note-taking almost by default. UberConference has to improve its basic video calling functionality in order to compete because smart features just don’t impress the way they did even a few years ago when we dreamed of a virtual office assistant.