- Whiteboard supports Apple Pencil
- Free version is useful
- Quality apps available for OS X and Windows too
- Only meeting presenter can draw on whiteboard
Quick Takejoin.me is a reliable presentation tool for teams that include iPad users.
The days when a laptop was necessary to get anything accomplished are long over. For example, join.me from LogMeIn lets iPad users run a video call with multiple attendees viewing a whiteboard and documents.
The iPad login screen for join.me includes a column on the right with the options for starting a meeting, either with the subscriber’s user name or with a one-time 9-digit meeting code. To join a meeting being hosted by someone else, enter the code on this same page.
Once a meeting has been started, the presenter is taken to the hosting screen with the primary control icons across the top. Starting on the left side, the first of these allows the presenter to share a whiteboard or file, the second gives access the meeting’s audio over a phone, the next allows the user to share video/audio using their iPad’s front-facing camera.
On the right side of the screen is an icon that shows the presenter how many people are in the meeting and what their names are. Next to this is an icon that opens a chat window, as well as one to open the tools menu to start/stop recording the session or export the whiteboard as a file. Finally, there’s a button to exit the meeting.
As it stands now, join.me is a presentation tool, not a collaboration tool. The best example of this is the whiteboard in the iPad version, which is quite good in many ways, but the only person who can write on it is the person giving the presentation. If someone else becomes the presenter, the whiteboard is hidden.
There are a variety of drawing tools built into the whiteboard, from freehand drawing in a variety of colors and line widths to the ability to add lines, circles, triangles, and other shapes. Images can be imported from the iPad, and the software comes with a selection of pre-drawn icons to help with the process.
When a meeting is complete, the whiteboard can be exported as either a JPG or PDF. This file can be saved to the iPad, printed, and/or mailed to the participants.
Meetings are often called to discuss documents, and iPad users can import files in a variety of formats into join.me to be shared. We tested both Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents without issue. The only way to share images is to insert them into a whiteboard, however.
One of the features from the whiteboard made it over to the file sharing feature: the presenter can use a virtual laser pointer to indicate anything on a document. However, it isn’t possible to draw on them. Also, files can only be shown one at a time.
Needing to meet with people face-to-face is built into the human psyche, but it isn’t always possible these days, especially for teams that are spread over a wide area. join.me puts an emphasis on video chatting, with attendees appearing in small bubbles floating off to one side of documents being discussed.
These are round so they take up less space, and their locations can be changed if they are in front of something important. They move as a group, so if one video bubble is repositioned they all follow. If the group is moved to one of the screen corners, all the bubbles will stack themselves up so they are out of the way.
When no file or whiteboard is being shared, the video bubbles expand to make it easier to see people.
Connecting With iOS, Android, OS X, Windows Users
An iPad or iPhone can join a meeting, as long as they have the free join.me app installed. They can share a video stream, see the video from other users, and look at whatever’s being shared in a presentation, but can’t become a presenter.
Android users also need to download an application, but this doesn’t support the video/audio stream, and users must instead call in on a phone line to hear the presenter. Users can see documents being shared, and they can become the presenter and share anything on their tablet.
OS X users who receive a meeting invite can join in with the Safari web browser and see the documents being shared, but they can’t see the video/audio chats from other attendees or stream their own; they will have to pull out their phone to talk or hear the meeting audio.
Mac users can download a free desktop application that will let them see and share video, as well as become the presenter. Comparing this version to the one for iPad is reminiscent of a classical tablet vs. laptop comparison: the version for iOS provides an easy-to-use but limited set of presentation tools, while the desktop edition allows the presenter to share anything on his computer, but supplies few tools to make running a meeting easier.
When someone running a Windows computer receives a meeting invite, they can also join the meeting right from their web browser. If they do so in Microsoft Edge, their options are somewhat limited: they can view the whiteboard, but not the video feeds from the host and other attendees, so they will need to dial in on a phone to hear. Edge users also can’t take over as presenter. Google Chrome users, on the other hand, can share video of themselves and see other’s videos, but can’t take over as presenter.
Doing more requires installing the free join.me Windows application. This is nearly identical to the OS X version.
LogMeIn offers a free join.me account that offers screen sharing for up to 10 participants and five video feeds. Internet calling is also included, as well as up to 10 whiteboards. TANSTAFL applies here, and users of the free version will have to look at advertising.
For $20 (17€) a month, this can be expanded to 50 participants and 10 video feeds. Presenter swap, and 5GB of storage are included, plus an unlimited number of whiteboards.
Curiously, someone with a join.me account can start a meeting, hand over the presentation role, and sign out without ending the meeting. Until LogMeIn changes this, it would be possible for one group to share an account, as long as the manager is willing and able to start all meetings, even the ones she’s not attending.
There’s also a business class version that supports up to 250 meeting participants and includes 5TB of storage. This is $25 (20€) a month.
To be clear, those attending meetings don’t need an account, and it costs them nothing to use this service.
We did most of our testing of the join.me software with a 12.9-inch iPad Pro doing the hosting, and we had meetings with up to seven attendees using Windows, OS X, Android, and iOS laptops, tablets, and phones connected simultaneously. Some of these involved people in different states.
In no situation did we run into problems; LogMeIn’s application didn’t crash, and there were no noticeable slowdowns. Even an iPhone connecting over 4G LTE had no problems.
Teams that include iPad users that are looking for a reliable presentation tool should consider LogMeIn join.me. It isn’t overloaded with features, but what it does it does well.